There are many ways to express love, or as Spanish language speakers would say, el amor, and the word you choose should reflect the degree of affection you feel. Like any language, merely translating Spanish to English words won’t provide the cultural context you need to understand when to use Spanish words and phrases like “I love you.” For that kind of guidance, you’ll need to get beyond Google Translate and venture into learning Spanish in the context of real conversations.
Here are five ways you can express your love and devotion in Spanish along with tips for when and how to use these affectionate phrases that will help you avoid making embarrassing mistakes. And beware of public displays of affection. You’ll see them commonly on the streets or in cafes among couples in cities like Madrid or Barcelona, but in the country, Spanish people are more conservative and expectations differ.
1. Te quiero is the Spanish I love you for family
Te quiero (teh- kee-eh-ro) translates to something akin to “I cherish” in Spanish, so it’s used to indicate the close ties of love that bind friends and family. Don’t mistake this phrase for a casual expression—it’s an intimate one that shouldn’t be used with acquaintances.
2. The romantic I love you in Spanish is te amo
Looking to express romantic love? Then you should commit to te amo (teh-ah-moe) when you’ve found someone special. This expression is reserved almost exclusively for intimate partners so be wary of using it to express affection for family or friends.
3. The Spanish phrase me cases bien keeps it casual
If you’re not ready to express undying devotion just yet, me caes bien (meh-kah-es-bee-en) is a good alternative. The translation equates to “I like you,” and provides a way to express affection without serious romantic interest or commitment.
4. Te adoro implies affection in Spanish
Te adoro (tay-ah-door-oh) has nuance worth waiting for. It’s a phrase that expresses the deep affection parents have for children, or an expression romantic partners might use to describe a once-in-a-lifetime passion.
5. Use the cutesy Spanish phrase eres mi media naranja
Eres mi media naranja (air-eez-me-meddy-a-nar-an-ha) is literally saying “you’re the other half of my orange,” which may not sound like the most romantic turn of phrase at first glance. However, it’s the equivalent of calling someone your “better half” and implies that you’re not whole without them. This cute idiom is generally reserved for soulmates and spouses only.
6. Mi amore is Spanish for sweetheart
The Spanish phrase you might hear tossed around frequently is mi amore and it translates to “my love.” Many use it as a term of endearment such as “sweetheart” or “honey” and you’ll notice it used both by romantic partners and parents towards their children.
Translating terms of endearment from Spanish to English
If you’re stuck on a Spanish word and struggling to decipher the meaning, Rosetta Stone has a feature called Translations* that may help. Simply use the long-press gesture on lesson images for an instant translation and get back to expressing yourself in the language you love.
* Available for Unit 1 of English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish (Latin America).
Looking to decipher more declarations of love? Dig into Spanish love songs to discover new terms of endearment but use them in conversation cautiously.
Want to expand your expressions of love? Check out our video playlist to learn how to say “I love you” in 5 more languages.