El día del amor y la amistad
This Valentine’s Day (el dia de San Valentín or el Dia del Amor y la Amistad, the Day of Love and Friendship) and to follow Roma’s post about Valentine’s Day for Language Lovers, I’d like to talk about how to talk about love in Spanish.
When to use ‘te amo’ and ‘te quiero’?
There are many ways to show affection in Spanish. Te quiero and te amo both mean I love you, but what’s the difference? It depends on who you say it to, and where they are from.
I had been speaking Spanish for eight years before I said ‘te amo’, because I had never felt strong romantic love for someone until then. Since my early Spanish-speaking days in Costa Rica, I had been saying ‘te quiero’ to friends in person, and in emails the abbreviated tqm (te quiero mucho), and then later with my best multilingual friends from university tq1ch (te quiero un chingo). This has now evolved again to tkm (te kiero mucho) or even te kiero muxo, in the age of texting and twitter, because qu and ch take up too many characters.
Many ways to love
Whether or not you want to tell someone that you love them, or that you love dancing to reggaetón, it’s important to learn the correct verbs to convey your desired feeling of love.
Since my family is from Mexico, the information below is from my experience in that country and is not an exhaustive list of all the ways to talk about love. See the page Words to Love By for a longer list.
Telling someone you love them…
querer – The verb ‘querer’ means ‘to want’ except in this context where it is understood to mean ‘to love’ for example you could say te quiero mucho amiga to tell someone that you love them as a friend.
amar – Saying ‘te amo’ means ‘I love you’, and connotes true, romantic, and unconditional love. This is the verb that you would use with your significant other and in some cases with your immediate family.
adorar – as in English, this verb means ‘to adore’ and so ‘te adoro’ is used to show respect and love for a partner or other loved one.
desear – when said to another person ‘te deseo’ is generally used to connote sexual desire and is probably better translated to ‘I want you’ since ‘I desire you’ sounds pretty cheesy
Saying you like/love [something about] someone or something…
Here’s a reminder of how to conjugate these verbs.
gustar – used to say ‘to like’ something but literally means ‘to please’, so instead of saying ‘I like it’, in Spanish we say ‘it pleases me’. ‘Me gusta tu camisa’ means ‘I like your shirt’ and ‘me gustas’ means ‘I like you’ (literally ‘you please me’), as in I like you, wink wink.
encantar – similar to gustar but stronger, literally ‘to enchant’. But used more like love or really, really like. So ‘me encantas’ is a step up from ‘me gustas’ and ‘me encanta bailar reggaetón” means ‘I love dancing to reggaetón‘.
Now get out there and practice using some of these verbs this Valentine’s Day with the ones you love. If you aren’t ready to say it, you could always write it in a card, or get a little help from Chayanne by playing this song…