What is the difference between 愛, 恋, and 恋愛? I know that they both have something to do with love but what's the difference? Thanks in advance!
Hello, sorry this is extremely overdue ><
Yes you are right — they all have to do with love. However, 恋 (koi) and 恋愛 (ren ai) are both similar, while 愛 (ai) is a bit different.
愛 is more of a general term for love as it can refer to all types of love rather than just romantic love. For instance, love between a mother and her child, love for a friend, or love for a religion. (definition)
ex. 親の愛 (oya no ai) - parental love
ex. 兄弟愛 (kyoudai ai) - sibling love
ex. 母の愛 (haha no ai) - maternal love
ex. 神の愛 (kami no ai) - God’s love
ex. 家族への愛 (kazoku e no ai) - love for (his) family
ex. 男女の愛 (danjo no ai) - love between men/women
ex. 日本に対する愛 (nihon ni taisuru ai) - love of Japan
ex. 世界への愛 (sekai e no ai) - love of the world
On the other hand, 恋 and 恋愛 are more specifically for romantic kinds of love. Both have the same kind of meaning, but 恋愛 is heavier and more serious, whereas 恋 can be that or a cuter/lighter love like puppy love. You can say 恋愛する (ren ai suru), but 恋をする (koi wo suru) is more common. 恋愛 is also used as a genre name.