Te Quiero vs Te Amo: Choosing the Right “I Love You” in Spanish

Which one is right for this relationship? Let's take a deep look at Te Quiero vs Te Amo so we always use the right "I love you" in Spanish.

Te quiero vs te amo?

No matter where we live or what language we speak, we always express our feelings. One of the most famous sentences worldwide to express our feelings for someone is I love you. In this post we’ll look at the best ways to say I love you in Spanish.

In English, I love you can be used with our significant partners, family, close friends, or even on a child’s Valentine’s Day treat. When we choose which expression to use in Spanish for I love you, do you know when it’s best to choose te quiero vs te amo?

Of course the right I love you in Spanish depends on the context, the person we’re telling it to, and the level of affection. It’s pretty important that you know whether to use te quiero or te amo! Are you ready to dive in? Let’s go!

To Love: Querer or Amar?

To begin with, we need to understand that when we’re talking about relationships between people, there are two translations for the English verb to love in Spanish: querer and amar.

Querer (for people) is generally used to show affection. You can use it with your family, friends, and romantic partner. While to love is a good translation for querer in English, it’s often also suitable to just translate it as to like a lot.

  • I really love my little sister. – Yo de verdad quiero a mi hermanita.
  • Patricia loves her friends so much. – Patricia quiere muchísimo a sus amigos.

Amar (for people) is also used to show affection, but the difference here is that with this word, we can show a more profound feeling than querer.

  • ¡I love my wife! – ¡Yo amo a mi esposa!
  • A good mother loves her kids with all her heart. – Una buena madre ama a sus hijos con todo su corazón.

As you can see when comparing amar vs querer, amar is stronger and more intense, while querer can be used for expressing affection with a wider range of people. That’s it!

Saying “I love you” in Spanish

I love you! What would the world be without this beautiful phrase? So how do we say I love you in Spanish? Easy! We just conjugate querer or amar and add the direct object pronoun for whoever is loved:

I love you. – Yo te quiero. – Yo te amo.

You love me. – Tú me quieres. – Tú me amas.

She loves them. – Él los quiere. – Él los ama.

So now that you know how to say I love you in Spanish, let’s get into the difference between te quiero and te amo. Here we go!

When to Use Te Quiero in Spanish

Te quiero is the softer way to say I love you in Spanish. It’s perfect for close friends, with a big range of family members, or in the beginning of a romantic relationship. Let’s take a look at when to use te quiero in Spanish.

Te quiero for good friends

When we have very good friends in our lives, te quiero is a good way to say that we love them. Remember that whereas in English we might soften the love by saying we like someone a lot, this is expressed perfectly with te quiero in Spanish.

  • You’re my best friend and I love you so much. – Eres mi mejor amiga y te quiero mucho.
  • My friends are the best, I love them all! – Mis amigos son los mejores, ¡los quiero a todos!

Te quiero for family

We can use te quiero with many members of our family. These include all the people in your family who you really care about and feel love for.

  • Thank you for the dinner, uncle, I love you! –  Gracias por la cena, tío, ¡te quiero!
  • Happy birthday dear cousin, I love you! – Feliz cumpleaños, primo querido, ¡te quiero!

Te quiero for a new romantic partner

Using this phrase with a romantic partner can be a little tricky. At the beginning stages of the relationship you should definitely just use te quiero, since it’s a much more innocent term of affection. Once the relationship develops, you can eventually tell them te amo.

Does this sound easier in Spanish? In the following examples te quiero is the perfect way to express affection as a relationship is starting out, whereas our English translations are probably too strong. Would I like you so much! be a better translation?

  • You’re so special to me. I love you. – Eres muy especial para mi, te quiero.
  • Thank you for this beautiful present, I love you. – Gracias por este precioso regalo, te quiero.

When to Use Te Amo in Spanish

As we mentioned before, te amo is pretty intense. You can always play it safe and stick with te quiero since it’s suitable for a wide variety of close relationships, though with certain people you’ll want to affirm a stronger bond by saying te amo. Let’s see which relationships can take this heavier form of I love you in Spanish.

Te amo for friends?

In most Latin American countries, people don’t use te amo to show affection to friends. It would be weird to use it that way because it can be misunderstood as having a romantic connotation.

We suggest you avoid using te amo when talking to friends.

Te quiero for family

We can use te quiero for many family members, whereas te amo is not suitable for most of them. Generally, use of te amo is reserved for the nuclear family, meaning between parents, children, and siblings. To express this love, we can say te amo.

  • Mom, I love you so much. – Mamá, te amo mucho.
  • My dad loves me a lot, I know it! – Mi papá me ama muchísimo, ¡lo sé!

Te amo with a romantic partner

Watch out, these are the magic words that you shouldn’t take lightly!

As we already advised you, don’t use te amo when you are at the beginning of a relationship with someone. It’ll probably freak them out.

Just like the first time you tell your partner I love you in English, choosing to first time to tell someone te amo rather than te quiero is sort of a big deal in Spanish too. Use te amo when you are sure that this relationship is not casual and you have the same feelings for each other.

  • Will you marry me? / Yes! I love you! – ¿Te casarías conmigo? / ¡Si! ¡Te amo!
  • I love you, dear wife, happy anniversary! – Te amo, querida esposa, ¡Feliz aniversário!

Other Verbs for Love in Spanish

In addition to querer and amar, we have a few other verbs for love in Spanish. Let’s take a look at these other common Spanish words for love.


To adore, To love

This is a very romantic and cute verb. Usually, we say te adoro when we really love someone, and that person is very special to us.

  • You’re amazing, I adore you.  Eres increíble, te adoro.
  • I love the way you look at me. – Adoro la forma como me miras.


To love, To be enchanted

We generally use this verb when we are amazed by someone or something. This is a strong expression to say that you are really enchanted.

  • Oh my God! I really love my girlfriend’s hair. – ¡Dios mío! Me encanta el cabello de mi novia.
  • I love your eyes. – Me encantan tus ojos.
  • All my friends and I love to study Spanish. – A todos amigos y a mí nos encanta estudiar español.


To like

Gustar is a very common word used when we like a variety of things. When used with people, we use it to express that we are attracted physically to someone else. It means that you are attracted to someone else’s eyes, smile, personality, and other characteristics.

  • I have always liked Juan. He’s adorable. – Siempre me ha gustado Juan, él es adorable.
  • Do you really like my brother? – ¿De verdad te gusta mi hermano?

Other Expressions for Saying I Love You in Spanish

The expressions we’ll learn here are all reserved for serious romantic relationships. When you’re ready to tell your special someone more than te amo, perhaps these will come in handy too.

Eres mi cariño

You’re my sweetheart, my sweetie

This is a very affectionate expression to call your romantic partner.

  • Sweetheart, can you help me to cook? – Cariño, ¿Puedes ayudarme a cocinar?

Eres mi princesa, Eres mi rey

You’re my princess, You’re my king

Ok, there’s no denying that this one’s pretty cheesy. But it’s a fun one for couples! We use this expression to say that the other person is unique, and they are the queen or king of our hearts.

  • Eres la princesa de mi corazón. – You’re the princess of my heart.
  • Tú eres mi rey, y yo soy tu princesa, ¿cierto? – You’re my king, and I’m your princess, right?

Eres mi cielo, Eres mi cielito

You’re my sky, my heaven

This expression is actually pretty common, to tell your partner that they’re like heaven for you. Couples usually don’t call each other using their names, and instead use expressions like this one. Cielito is the diminutive of cielo, giving it added intensity.

  • Where is my dear heaven? I’ve been waiting for him for an hour. – ¿Dónde estará mi cielito lindo? He estado esperándolo por una hora.
  • She is my heaven. – Ella es mi cielo.

Eres mi amor, Eres mi amorcito

You’re my love

This expression is reserved for that special person you are in love with. It is a very romantic and intimate expression, translating directly as you are my love. Amorcito is the diminutive of amor, used to give more passion and intensity to the expression.

  • Hello my love, how are you? – Hola amorcito, ¿Cómo estás?
  • You’re my great love. – Eres mi gran amor.

Eres mi media naranja

You’re my other half

As you can guess, this expression is reserved for when you find a person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

  • I want to marry you because you’re my other half. – Me quiero casar contigo porque eres mi media naranja.
  • Veronica is my other half, I’m sure of it. – Verónica es mi media naranja, estoy seguro de eso.

Eres mi alma gemela

You’re my soulmate

This is very similar to the previous one. We use it with that only person that has conquered our heart. There is no one else like them, just that person.

  • You’re my soulmate and I want to live by your side forever and ever. – Eres mi alma gemela y quiero vivir a tu lado por siempre y para siempre.
  • We have been married for so many years because you are my soulmate. There are no doubts. – No hay dudas. Hemos estado casados durante tantos años porque eres mi alma gemela.


With that, are you ready to choose the right way to say I love you in Spanish? We covered the main difference between te quiero and te amo: amar is much stronger and profound, whereas querer remains a safe choice in most contexts where you care a lot for someone.

In addition, we covered a few of the other useful verbs for expressing love in Spanish, finishing up with some heavier ways for expressing love to your special someone.

Well, that’s it! Now you’re ready to use te quiero and te amo in Spanish, knowing you’re using the right expression for each situation. Now go ahead and use all of these expressions with your loved ones, or tell your friends how much you loved our post!

Practice: te quiero vs te amo

Now that you’re comfortable with choosing the right expression to suit the relationship, why don’t you try choosing whether te quiero or te amo fits each of these situations?

1. Thank you for your visit, aunt Mary, _____.

– Gracias por tu visita, tía Mary, _____.

2. You’re  the perfect wife, _____.

– Eres la esposa perfecta, _____.

3. _____ so much my son.

– _____ muchísimo, hijo mío.

4. This first month of relationship has been amazing, _____.

– Este primer mes de relación ha sido increíble, _____.

5. Why do you say _____ if we’ve just been dating for a month?

– ¿Por qué me dices _____ si solo llevamos un mes saliendo?

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