Curious how to say “I love you” in Spanish? Here are 12 expressions to share how you feel, without embarrassing yourself. You’ll learn differences between expressions so you can express yourself accurately.
Perhaps you have a love of traveling. Or maybe you want to converse with someone from a Spanish background. You might just have an interest in other languages and cultures.
Whatever the case, it is important to note that you cannot always translate literally from English to Spanish and vice-versa. (I learned that the hard way. Keep reading for my awkward and embarrassing experience.)
12 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Spanish
In this article, you will learn about the various ways to say “I love you” in Spanish.
We’ll also discuss the literal translation, as well as the proper time to use each expression. And we’ll cover terms of endearment such as sweetie, beautiful, and better-half.
By the end of this article, you will know how to give someone dear to you a compliment – the right way.
The Wrong Way to Call Someone Attractive
To start with, I’d like to share a rather embarrassing story. This happened to me years ago, back when I was in my 20’s, and my grasp of Spanish was rather limited.
One day I found myself with a group of older Spanish ladies. One of them paid me a compliment, saying how nice it was for a pretty young girl to be spending her day with older people.
Wanting to return the compliment, but not knowing exactly which words to use, I told them that they were also good-looking ladies, or at least that’s what I thought I had said.
The word I had used was “caliente.” In my mind, this word meant “hot” and would do the trick in making them feel attractive. When the ladies started saying “no, no…”
I thought this was them being modest, not knowing how to take the compliment. I didn’t know Spanish well enough at the time to understand an explanation, and they only spoke a limited amount of English.
Years later, I learned that calling someone “caliente” does not translate into hot/attractive. Rather, it means that they are “in heat” or in other words, lustful or desirous.
Imagine my embarrassment!
That’s why it’s good to know the correct way to say things…
1. Te amo
“Te amo” literally translates into “I love you.”
This is the kind of love that is shared by a couple in a deep, and committed relationship. You can also use this expression with your immediate family.
It’s taken quite seriously and is not an expression to be just thrown around. Think of it as a grand declaration of your eternal love.
2. Te quiero
“Te quiero” is another way to express your love for someone.
It’s more casual than “te amo” and can be used within the context of extended family members, good friends, or with your significant other.
Literally, it means “I want you.” This is not meant in a creepy way.
Rather, think of it more as “I want you in my life.” I think it’s rather cute. After all, who doesn’t want to feel wanted?
Te Quiero Mucho (TQM): A common variation is to add “mucho” (English: much), changing the expression to “I love you a lot”. Adding “mucho” is a quantifier, expression the level of affection for the person.
Te quiero mucho is used among close friends, family, and partners.
3. Me caes bien
Here’s another expression that doesn’t translate well. “Caes” means to fall, so “me caes bien” could translate into “you fall well on me.” That sounds borderline inappropriate.
What the expression actually means is: “I like you.”
You could also ask, “¿Te caigo bien?” That means “Do you like me?”
4. Me gustas
“Me gustas” also means “I like you,” but it is a step-up from “me caes bien.”
It can also translate as “you please me.”
So if you have been on a date or two and want to let the other person know that you enjoy spending time with them, you may want to give “me gustas” a try.
5. Te adoro
This one is as it sounds. “Te adoro” means “I adore you.”
You can say it to your significant other. You may also overhear it when a mother is talking to her baby. How sweet!
6. Te quiero con todo mi corazón
“I love you with all of my heart.” This is certainly not an expression to pull out on a first date.
However, it may come in handy should you plan on proposing.
7. Eres mi media naranja
“You are my half-orange”- as in the fruit. A corresponding phrase in English is “you are my better half” or “you complete me.”
There are various theories as to the origin of this expression.
- One is that the dome of a church is in the shape of half of an orange. If this is correct, it may show the seriousness of the wedding vows said under such a dome.
- The dome may also represent heaven. Another popular expression in Spanish is to refer to your loved one as “mi cielo,” my heaven.
- Another explanation is that no two oranges are exactly alike. So saying that someone is your half-orange is like say they are your soulmate, the only one that matches you.
8. Te amo más hoy que ayer, pero menos que mañana
“I love you more today than yesterday, but less than I’ll love you tomorrow.”
This is one of my favorite Spanish phrases. The first time I heard it was in conversation with an older friend of mine.
His wife suffers from schizophrenia, which of course has its challenges. But when describing his love for his wife, this was the expression he used. It just melted my heart.
9. Eres el amor de mi vida
“You are the love of my life.”
If you want to make a deep impression and sweep someone off of their feet, this may be the expression for you.
For some basic pronunciation, here’s some help with three expressions.
10. Me vuelves loco
Are you so in love that you want to jump up and the furniture, or sing out from the rooftops? “Me vuelves loco” or “me vuelves loca” means “you make me crazy.”
You can use it in connection with a love that is so intense that you act foolishly.
On the flip side, the same expression can be used if someone is making you crazy in the negative sense of the word.
11. La vida estariá vacía sin ti
The Spanish language can be very romantic. This phrase means, “life would be empty with you.”
If you are trying to woo someone, this might be the way to do it.
12. Este corazón es tuyo
At a certain point in your relationship, you may know that the other person is “the one.”
If you want a way to tell them that, try saying “este corazón es tuyo.” It means “this heart is yours.”
Te Quiero vs Te Amo
While they might sound similar to an English speaker, these expressions (te quiero vs te amo) are quite different.
- Te Quiero (English: I want you): This expression of love is perfect for close friends, extended family, and your significant other. Not specifically romantic.
- Te Amo (English: I love you). This is used for a spouse or your immediate family (parents, children). Depending on context, it is either romantic or very affectionate.
More Spanish Words For Expressing Affection
Here are a few words that may come in handy when showering your loved one with compliments.
Some of these words are interchangeable, but there may be variations depending on the context.
Use the words ending in “o” when describing a man. And the ones ending in “a” when describing a woman.
- Hermoso/ Hermosa: beautiful
- Guapo/ Guapa: handsome, attractive
- Bonito/ Bonita: beautiful, nice
- Lindo/ Linda: attractive, pretty
- Bello/ Bella: beautiful (more formal)
- Cariño: sweetheart, sweetie, a term of affection
- Mi amor: my love
In Spanish, not all terms of endearment translate to English. Here’s a discussion on Spanish nicknames, including terms of endearment.
Learn more about al the Spanish-speaking countries.
And here are three more posts to help you in your Spanish journey.
- Beginners Guide: Best Way to Learn Spanish
- How to Order Food in Spanish: 11 Simple Restaurant Phrases
- 9 Spanish Phrases for the Airport
Like languages? Here’s how to say hello in Dutch.
I hope this helps you to avoid some of the language mistakes that I have made. Do you have a favorite expression that I missed? Please let me know in the comments below.