When you think about Latin culture, I’m sure you think about warm people, full of life and love. Yes, love. Love and affection in every sense of the words are a fundamental part of every Latin American. And so, when learning, you’ll probably ask yourself: how to express love and affection in Spanish? Here is how!
If you don’t believe me, you can watch any reality show and you will discover men and women motivated to win the prize not for themselves, but for their families because here, dreams are never individual, they are collective. We cry and laugh watching a football match; we hug and cry on New Year’s; the birthdays of our family and friends are super important; and the lovers… Gabriel Garcia Marquez knew how to describe it best in his book Love in the Times of Cholera with lovers filling their days with long letters, songs, and poetry. If that is our culture, our language cannot be any different. That is why when Latin gave birth to Spanish, it gave us a wealth of words and expressions to communicate all the passion we have inside.
As a Spanish teacher, I always remember with love and affection how fun it is for students to discover that in Spanish expressing affection goes far beyond an “I love you,” and how uncomfortable it is for us Latinos not to have enough words to express what we feel in another language.
Spanish is rich in expressions. When you listen to music or watch movies, you will notice a lot of words to express how much we love the people around us. The language is so beautiful in that it allows you to measure your affection by using different words. For example:
Me encantas: This expression is very similar to “me gustas” It’s something you’d say on a third date with someone or in a relationship, because it means you have a crush on him or her.
Te quiero: This is a way to express “I love you.” In a romantic context, however, te quiero is not as strong as te adoro or te amo. You can also feel comfortable using te quiero with your friends and family – it’s not exclusive to romantic relationships.
Te adoro: Literally, this means “I adore you.” However, in Spanish it is another cute way to say “I love you.” Usually, you use te adoro in romantic relationships and it is stronger than te quiero. You could also use it with very, very close friends but, depending on the context, it could be awkward. With friends, it’s better to keep it simple and just say te quiero.
Te amo: This means “I love you” but it’s the special “I love you”, the strongest one. It’s that “I love you” that takes a few months in a relationship to say. Or the kind of love you feel for your wife or husband. Overall, it’s that “I love you” that you only say to that one special person. However, you could also use it to refer to close family like your children, mom, dad or sibling.
Now do you understand why when a boyfriend says to his girlfriend te amo and she responds te quiero there can be a big problem? They don’t mean the same thing.
Another important thing is that if you want to make your expression even more intense and be more romantic, you can add mucho or demasiado to the end of the expression. These translate as “so much” or “too much”, but you know, for us, there is never too much. So now you can understand and use Spanish to be as romantic as a Colombian, or understand why your Colombian boyfriend or girlfriend is so romantic.
Audio to practice
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Written by Lorena, profesora at Whee.