Te Quiero vs Te Amo: Don't Say the Wrong 'I Love You' in Spanish (2024)

Te Quiero vs Te Amo: Don't Say the Wrong 'I Love You' in Spanish (1)

June 2, 2022 by Michelle Margaret Fajkus Spanish Instruction, Spanish Vocabulary 0 comments

There is a misconception about using te quiero vs te amo when expressing the concept of “I love you” in Spanish.

Although quiero often means “I want,” te quiero can translate to “I love you” in certain circ*mstances.

The two phrases are used in different ways across the vast Spanish-speaking world. Amar means to love. Te amo is a deeper, more intense declaration of love than te quiero, but it’s not reserved only for romantic relationships.

When referring to a person, both amar and querer are Spanish verbs that mean “to love.” Still, there are certain nuances to using amar and querer with different people and in different situations.

The te quiero vs te amo issue is admittedly not super clear cut. That’s why, for non-native speakers, finding the right words to convey our love in Spanish can be a challenge. Keep reading to learn when to say te quiero vs te amo, plus a variety of other words that express feelings of love in Spanish.

Not yet ready TO LOVE someone? Learn how to say I LIKE YOU in Spanish with our blog post on the Spanish Verb Gustar.


  • ‘Te Quiero’ vs ‘Te Amo’: Infographic
  • When to Use ‘Te Amo’ vs ‘Te Quiero’
  • What About ‘Amar’?
  • Get Your Free Spanish eBook
  • Amar, Querer, Adorar, Encantar, and More!
  • Romantic Spanish Phrases
  • Do You Love Spanish?

Te Quiero vs Te Amo: Infographic

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When to Use Te Quiero vs Te Amo

If you want to tell someone you love them in Spanish, should you say te amo or te quiero? Let’s take a closer look at the different uses of these verbs to better understand when to use te quiero or te amo.

Are You a Visual Learner? Watch the Video: Te Quiero vs Te Amo

The Case for Querer

In general, the safer choice is “te quiero.” It will be understood and sound natural.

Because querer is a common Spanish verb that often means “to want,” beginning Spanish students may not realize that it can also express love.

Use querer with the following people:

  • Friends
  • Family members (using te quiero or te amo with family depends on your preference)
  • A recent relationship
  • A person you have feelings for

Commonly, querer expresses wants and desires, as in the following examples:

Marta quiere viajar a Asia el próximo año.
Martha wants to travel to Asia next year.

Quiero una taza de café.
I want a cup of coffee

But te quiero is actually the most common way to say “I love you” in Spanish!

Since its literal translation is “I want you,” it may sound a bit strong to native English speakers. In Spanish, however, it has a lighter connotation of love and care. Friends and relatives frequently say “te quiero mucho” to one another.

More specifically, querer is the light version of amar.

While te quiero expresses affection, it doesn’t have a romantic or intimate connotation like te amo does.

Te Quiero vs Te Amo: Don't Say the Wrong 'I Love You' in Spanish (8)

Querer Example Sentences and Usage

Te quiero mucho.
I love you very much

Beto quiere a Elisa.
Beto loves Elisa.

Quiero mucho a mi familia.
I love my family very much.

Ana quiere mucho a sus amigos.
Anna loves her friends.

Querer is rarely used to say “I want you” in a romantic sense. Learn more about querer and its conjugation.

What About Amar?

In regards to te amo, the verb amar— depending on the region—isn’t used as much as querer by most native speakers. To some, it might sound like something a character would say in a telenovela and not something two young lovers would say in real life. To others, it may sound like a deeper declaration of profound love for a person. Te amo is a common expression in poetry, movies, and song lyrics.

Use amar with the following people:

  • Your partner (as long as you are in love).
  • Family members

Keep in mind that te amo could come across as a little overpowering if you haven’t been with your partner for long! Amar always expresses a greater and deeper degree of affection than querer.

The verb amar directly translates to the English verb “to love” and it expresses specific sentiments like warm attachment, devotion, and deep, loving admiration between kin or couples. As a result, use this phrase within meaningful relationships or very special people.

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Amar Meaning and Uses

Similar to the English verb, the Spanish verb amar has different uses. Here are some of the most common:

Using Amar to Show Affection

This Spanish verb declares the greatest and deepest love. It is considered intimate. You can use two different grammar structures with this verb.

1. Indirect pronoun + amar (conjugated)

Te amo.
I love you.

¿Me amas?
Do you love me?

Mi mamá y mi papá se aman.
My mother and father love each other.

Throw in an adverb to modify your phrase:

Te amo muchísimo.
I love you very much.

Te amo tanto.
I love you so much.

Te amo también.
I love you too.

If you’d like to express that a friend loves someone, you’ll need to make some adjustments to the structure. Be aware that even though the English translation remains the same, in Spanish, you need to add a preposition.

2. Person 1 + amar (conjugated) + a + person 2

Marío ama a Lucrecia.
Mario loves Lucrecia.

Yo amo a mis primas.
I love my cousins.

Eduardo ama muchísimo a su esposa.
Eduardo loves his wife very much.

Using Amar to Talk About Things You Love

In some Latin American countries, such as Colombia, México, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, amar is also used to express that you like something strongly. For example:

Amo esa película.
I love that movie.

Fernando ama los museos.
Fernando loves museums.

Mis hermana y yo amamos practicar yoga.
My sister and I love to practice yoga.

In Spanish, this use of amar is informal. If you’re traveling in Latin America, pay attention to whether or not the Spanish country you’re in uses amar this way.

In some countries, such as Spain and Argentina, the previous examples would sound weird. If you want to play it safe and use standard Spanish, you should use encantar instead.

Me encantó la película.
I loved the movie.

A Felipe le encanta viajar.
Felipe loves to travel.

A mis amigos y a mí nos encanta estudiar español.
My friends and I love to study Spanish.

Learn more about verbs like encantar and gustar to express informal love.

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Amar, Querer, Adorar, Encantar, and More!

The dictionary says that either amar or querer (and even desear and encantar) translate in some contexts to the verb “to love.” However, encantar is unlike amar, in that it doesn’t have an affectionate tone. Instead, it expresses that you like something or someone very much.

When talking about objects or activities, adorar also expresses that you really like something. However, when referring to a person it would translate as “to adore.”

Me encantó el final de la novela.
I loved the end of the novel.

Adoré este episodio.
I loved that episode.

Norma adora a su nieto.
Norma adores her grandson.

So, Which Do You Say: te quiero or te amo?

Te quiero is useful for all kinds of loving relationships, including friendship, marriage, and family.

Te amo is a common way of saying “I love you” in strongly committed romantic relationships or within families.

Equally, querer and amar can be used in non-romantic contexts like the love of siblings.

The ultimate difference is that amar shows a greater and deeper affection than querer.

Romantic Spanish Phrases

Last but not least, here are some endearing Spanish terms for expressing love and affection to your most favorite people:

Mi corazón – my heart

Mi amor / mi amorcito – my love

Mi cielo – my heaven/sky

Mi vida – my life

Mi cariño – my sweetheart

Querido/a – dear

Mi media naranja – my soulmate (informal)

Alma gemela – soulmate (literally “soul twin”)

Te adoro. – I adore you.

Abrázame. – Hug me.

Besame. Kiss me.

Do You Love Spanish?

Te quiero vs te amo is just one example of the subtle nuances of the Spanish language. Cultural elements and contextual cues are key to communication. Practice your Spanish skills with our friendly certified teachers from Guatemala today in a free trial class. See how quickly and efficiently you can rock the Spanish language!

What are your favorite Spanish terms of endearment? Leave a comment and start a conversation with Spanish learners from around the world!

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Te Quiero vs Te Amo: Don't Say the Wrong 'I Love You' in Spanish (2024)


¿Cuál es la diferencia entre decir te quiero y te amo? ›

Aún así, muchos conservan que en el amor hay fases: primero está el “me gustas”, que denota un interés inicial. Sobrepasada esa fase, seguiría el “te quiero”, que no relacionan con posesión sino con una etapa intermedia, cuando el amor no es tan intenso. Finalmente, está “te amo”, el sentimiento más fuerte.

¿Cómo te amo tu meaning? ›

The English translation would be “How much I love you!”, or, better yet, “I love you so much!”, spoken by someone who realizes the immensity of their love for you. The proper punctuation would be “ ¡Cómo te amo!”

¿Que te amo meaning? ›

It just means that I love you, completely and totally.

¿Dices "te amo" o "te quiero"? ›

Los términos Te quiero y Te amo se derivan de los verbos querer (querer) y amar (amar). Te quiero y Te amo pueden significar "te amo". La diferencia es que Te amo se considera más íntimo, mientras que Te quiero se considera más informal . Dependiendo de cómo se diga, Te quiero también puede significar “te quiero”.

¿Cómo se dice que te quiero? ›

Te quiero. -I love you.

¿Qué es más fuerte que te amo? ›

¿Hay alguna palabra mas fuerte que un "te amo"? Sí: “un te odio”.

¿Como yo quiero meaning? ›

How I love you.

¿Qué linda tú eres meaning? ›

How beautiful you are! "Que linda eres". "Aren't you a cutie?"

¿Cómo te dice meaning? ›

"cómo te dices" means "how do you say yourself": it's a weird question that almost makes no sense since the object of "decir" are words, you say words, not people. It could also be "how do you say to yourself", which it makes a little more sense, but is still a weird thing to ask.

¿Qué es mi amor? ›

Mi amor es una frase en español que se traduce literalmente como "mi amor". A menudo se usa como apodo cuando una persona coquetea o es afectuosa. Mi amor se puede utilizar para referirse a personas de todas las identidades de género. Mi amor se usa típicamente para referirse a un ser querido y puede expresar amor romántico o familiar.

¿Cómo estás amor meaning? ›

How are you, love? a. How are you, love?

¿Cuánto te amo mi amor meaning? ›

"Cuánto Te amo, mi amor". "How much I love you, my darling." Te amo, mi amor. I love you, my darling.

¿Te amo en serio? ›

Se asocia con sentimientos apasionados y más románticos, y conlleva un peso y una seriedad que no viene con el casual "te quiero". Algunos usan “te amo” para expresar un amor profundo por amigos y familiares muy cercanos, aunque eso no es tan común.

¿Le dices "te amo" a tu novia? ›

Te amo in Spanish

We use te amo with family members with whom we have a strong bond, especially those closest to us such as parents, children and siblings, although it is not limited to these. You can also use it with a romantic partner for whom you have deep feelings and not just something casual.

¿Le dices "te quiero" a tu novia? ›

Te quiero means “I want you”; although the meaning is quite intimate in English, it is actually less romantic in Spanish. Te quiero can be used for friends, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or a family member to that you are close.

¿Qué significa que una persona te diga te quiero? ›

Es tener alguien que siente lo que tu sientes y vive lo que tu vives porque le importa lo que te puede estar pasando. Es tenerte en forma de pensamiento y sentimiento constante dentro de uno. Te quiero es simple como palabra pero encierra tanto detrás que sería importante decirlo más y demostrarlo más.

¿Cuánto tiempo hay que esperar para decir te amo? ›

Cada persona tiene un ritmo diferente y puede tardar más que tu en llegar a ese punto, los hombres tienden a ser más rápidos en esto. De acuerdo con una encuesta, los hombres tardan alrededor de 88 días en decirle "Te amo" a su pareja, mientras que las mujeres que tardan 134.

¿Como dicen te amo los gringos? ›

Formas de decir te amo en inglés. En inglés, "I love you" es la frase más común que se usa para expresar el sentimiento de amor.

¿Cuándo es correcto decir te quiero? ›

Sin embargo, la mayoría de las personas considera entre uno y tres meses un tiempo prudencial para realizar dichas declaraciones. En otros casos, esto puede alargarse hasta los seis meses.


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