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The Difference between “Love” and “Loves” — Explained

The Difference between “Love” and “Loves” — Explained

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Many native and non-native users of the English language avoid learning grammar because it entails technicality and complexity. Hence, you are not alone in this struggle.

If you ask a native speaker about the difference between “love” and “loves,” you may mainly get an explanation related to subject-verb agreement.

But, there is more to it than meets the eye.

The article in front of you today exhaustively discusses everything you need to know about the grammatical nuances between “love” and “loves” — with lots of useful bonus information towards the end!

So, without further ado, let’s begin.


What is the difference between “love” and “loves”?”

“Love” and “loves” differ in form and function. “Love” can either be a noun or a verb; hence, it can appear either in the subject or predicate part of the sentence. The verb “love” is used after plural subjects like “we” or “they,” while “loves” is used after singular subjects like “he” or “she.”


A grammatical discussion between “love” and “loves”

English grammar can be confusing in the sense that the “rules” could seem too technical or too boring to be appreciated by natives and non-natives alike.

For the natives, studying grammar could be tedious, irrelevant, and redundant because they, themselves, already know the language by heart.

Non-natives on the other hand may also struggle with grammar because the grammar of their first language could be way too different from English.

While natives can automatically tell the difference between “love” and “loves”, they may not necessarily know how to explain the grammatical subtleties in ample detail — not unless they are language experts or enthusiasts.

For that, our post today discusses all you need to know about “love” and “loves,” as well as other closely related concerns to these two words like collocations.

Let’s start with grammatical tidbits on “love” vs. “loves,” with more focus on syntax and morphology.


Part of speech: “Love” vs. “Loves”

The word “love” in itself, and without context, is generally a noun, although deliberately putting the infinitive “to” in front of it turns it into a verb.

“Loves,” on the other hand, can only be identified as a verb if the word is not used in context and no other linguistic elements come before or after it.

“Love” is an uncountable abstract noun that can only be used in its singular form. For this, the verb that should follow it should automatically adhere to the rules for singular subjects.

For example, we have to say “love is” and not “love are” if we have to construct a sentence in its simple present form, followed by whatever complement you want to add.


Love is blind.


Love is not a game.


Love has no definite rules.


Meanwhile, the verb “loves” is what we use after singular subjects like “Anne,” “he,” “the cat,” or “my cousin.”

English grammar prescribes adding the suffix “-s” or “-es” for singular subjects, which is one of the basic lessons we learn at school.

Due to this, we cannot use plural subjects like “they,” “we,” or “I and Carl” before the verb “loves”; otherwise, our sentence structure becomes incorrect.

Here’s how to use the verb “loves” properly:


She loves pilates.


Her mom loves gardening.


My aunt loves cooking, dogs, and kids.


By the way, the commas in the last example above are critical in making the subject “my aunt” neither a cannibal nor a dog eater. So, use your commas appropriately in writing, okay?


Verb Tense: “Love” vs. “Loves”

If we are going to particularly compare “love” and “loves” as verbs alone, the main difference between them can be explained using rules related to tenses.

“Love” is a transitive verb in English, so it needs a direct object afterward. Intransitive verbs are the opposite of transitive verbs, which means they do not need to act on direct objects to do their job.

“Love” is strictly used after plural subjects in sentences constructed in the simple present tense, while “loves” is strictly used when the subject is in the singular form.

More particularly, we use “love” after plural subjects like “they,” “we,” or “children”; “loves” is used after singular subjects like “he,” “she,” or “Stacy,” as well as “I” and “you,” which is an exemption to the rule.


Example 1 (love):

I and my sister love kickboxing and judo.


Example 2 (loves):

Kianna loves playing the guitar.


Simple present is used for talking about general knowledge or beliefs and habitual or customary activities, in which the latter could also mean things that happen repeatedly.

General truths are concepts and ideas that have been proven to be unfalsifiable like the sun rising in the east or languages being dynamic rather than static entities. 

Whereas, customs or habits include you eating breakfast at seven or getting home from work at six in the evening.

Expressing these kinds of ideas in the English language entails knowledge on how to construct simple present sentences based on stern syntactical rules.

That said, we have to be extra careful in using the correct verb form depending on the number of the subject so as not to cause any misinterpretation among audiences.


Grammatical Contractions: “Loves” vs. “Love’s”

The confusion on whether to use “loves” or “love’s” comes from the grammatical concept referred to as “verb contractions,” especially on the latter word.

“Loves” is, again, strictly used for sentences containing singular subjects as in this example: 


Valerie, my best friend, loves watching slasher films.


By the way, the phrase “my best friend” in the example above is what we call an appositive phrase — a special kind of noun phrase that  post-identifies the subject “Valerie.”

Meanwhile, “love’s” is the result of contracting or combining the noun “love” and the linking or auxiliary verb “is” — something more commonly done in casual writing and speaking. 

In grammar, contraction is the convenient attachment of two words, which is the noun “love” and the primary auxiliary verb “is” in the context of today’s topic.

For example, you can use “love’s” to shorten “love is,” as in the example below:


Love’s blind.” is exactly the same as “Love is blind.”

The contracted form “love’s” may also be used to emphasize the idea of negation marked by the adverb “not” that should come after the auxiliary verb “is.”


Love’s not greedy.” is exactly the same as “Love is not greedy.”

The emphasis on the idea of negation decreases if and when “is” and not” are contracted instead of “love” and “is” because the word “not” becomes less audible and readable.


Love’s not easy.” is more emphatic than “Love isn’t easy.”

The last possible, yet least probable, way to use “love’s” is when the word “love” is nominalized or used as a name of a person.

This time, the grammatical construct involved deals with possessive nouns or more technically known as the genitive case in language studies.

The genitive case describes the idea of ownership which is represented using an apostrophe and a suffix “-s,” such as in “Paul’s eyes” or “Cindy’s skin.”


Love’s hair color is ash blonde.” is the same as “The hair color of Love is ash blonde.”

In the example above, the word “Love” refers to a person’s name who has dyed her hair ash blonde. 

That said, we can deduce that the more complete way of saying “Love’s hair color” in the context of the given example is “the hair color of Love.”


“Love” and “Loves” Collocations

Now that we have understood the grammatical nuances between “love” and “loves,” as well as the contracted form “love’s,” let’s proceed with the phrasal level involving collocations.

Collocation is a grammatical construct used to refer to the habitual or conventional ways of using words together to form standard, grammatical phrases.

Knowing and understanding the concept of collocations is important in establishing standardized expressions that can be used in teaching languages more effectively.

Listed below are some of the most commonly confused phrases with the word “love”:


“Love of” vs. “Love for”: Telling them apart

First off, there is no single, definite way to pedantically differentiate “love of” and “love for” because the meaning that these two expressions denote are almost always the same.

But based on online text corpora or collections of written texts, “love of” appears to be used slightly more commonly than “love for.”

However, the use of “love of” has also been declining over the years, while “love for” has been used in a more stable trend.

In terms of syntactic and semantic relationships, “love of” commonly appears in front of inanimate entities, like the one below:


Jonah’s love of music has brought her to many places.

On the other hand, “love for” is often used before animate entities, such as in the following example:


Elizabeth’s love for her children is unconditional.

If we talk about the prepositions “to” and “for” alone, grammatical conventions state that “of” is often used to denote ownership while “for” denotes purpose or direction.

Hence, we may also assume that “love of” can be more likely used in expressing the possessive form of nouns like “the love of Lisa.”


The love of Lisa (or Lisa’s love) is incomparable.

However, “love for” can be more likely used before the beneficiary or recipient in the sentence, such as in the next example:


The people’s love for the king shall reign.


“In love” vs “Love”: Knowing when to use which

The easy answer to the inquiry on when to use “love” or “in love” is that “love” is quite a flexible word, but “in love” is a fixed expression.

As “love” can either be a noun or a verb, then it may appear either in the subject or predicate part of the sentence.

Nouns can be used either as subjects or objects, and verbs, well, should be placed between the subject and the object. This makes the following sentences grammatically possible:


(subject) Love is elusive for some.
(verb) They love you no matter what.
(object of the preposition) She’s doing it all because of love.

Meanwhile, “in love” is a fixed expression derived from the word “love”; it is used to describe the state of having a deep sense of affection for someone or passion for something.

“In love” commonly functions as an adverbial phrase that post-modifies a verb, just like the example below:


She is in love with you.

The sentence above meat also be formally structured into “She feels love for you” or “She is romantically attracted to you.”


“In love with you” vs. “In love to you”: Identifying the more natural option

By and large, “in love with you” is more commonly used and, therefore, more natural and grammatically well-formed than “in love to you.”

Here’s how “in love with you” works in context:


(grammatical and natural) Sam is in love with you.
(ungrammatical and unnatural) Sam is in love to you.

Although the two expressions may just differ in the usage of the prepositions “with” and “to,” “in love to you” will likely make native speakers of English cringe when they hear it.

This could be because “in love to you” may have this “objectifying” effect on the prepositional object “you” — a pronoun mostly used for animate beings rather than inanimate ones.

In a nutshell, you have to avoid indiscriminately using “in love to you” and stick with “in love with you” to prevent misconceptions and misinterpretations.


Frequently Asked Questions on “Love” vs. “Loves”


Is “love” a singular or plural noun?

“Love” is a singular noun, but more particularly, “love” is an uncountable abstract noun. Abstract nouns are treated as singular in number in English.


Should we say she “love” or “loves” you?

Based on the rules of the English simple present tense, we have to say “She loves you” because a singular subject needs to be followed by the singular verb form or the one that needs the suffix “-s” or “-es.”


Should we say mommy and daddy “love” or “loves” you?

The grammatically correct structure in the English language is “Mommy and daddy love you” because the subject is composed of two entities, which means that it is plural.



Having the urge to check the peculiarities and nuances of grammar is a good thing because it demonstrates the constant need to understand how languages work in ample detail.

That said, reading language blogs like this is a healthy, commendable activity that is better done more regularly for a more comprehensive understanding.

That’s all for now. See you next time for more interesting grammatical discussions!