Spanish Language/Te quiero vs te amo


QUESTION: I get so confused by this. I take te quiero to mean I want you and te amo to mean it love you yet I hear parents say te quiero to their kids and vise Versace frequently. Could you please explain the difference so I do not get myself in trouble. Lol

ANSWER: Hi Julie,

Thanks for your question.

Although uses do vary between Spain and Latin America, the chief difference is that 'te amo' is something that you would say to your partner in the sense of the kind of love you have between a husband and wife. 'Te quiero' is a more platonic love - the kind of love that you feel for your children, siblings, friends etc.

Although 'te quiero' literally translated as'I want you,' this is not what it actually means. It means 'I love you' but in the platonic sense of the word.

However, please note that in mainland Spain, 'te quiero' is favoured over 'te amo' and there, it is used in the sense of loving somebody in an intimate way. For example, my partner is from the south of Spain and we would use 'te quiero' to each other rather than 'te amo'. Given your geographical location, I assume that you may be learning South American Spanish. If so, then rule of thumb - stick with 'te amo' for husband/boyfriend etc. and 'te quiero' for children, friends etc.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Your explanation is very helpful and it is latin american spanish. So what is the purpose of saying "te quiero te amo."

Hi Julie,

Thanks for the follow up question. In this example, this would seem to be like a set phrase coming from somebody simply to emphasise the fact that they love somebody. By repeating the two phrases with similar meaning consecutively, the fact that they love the person is being stressed. Here, the two expressions would equivalate the same meaning whether the intention was love between partners or platonic love with children, siblings etc.

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Spanish Language

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I consider myself a native speaker in Spanish after studying the language for many years, using it on a daily basis at home and having last year obtained my DELE C2 - the highest possible qualification in Spanish from the Instituto Cervantes. I am very confident to answer any questions about the Spanish language. I can also answer specific questions related to Andalucia and the Andalucian dialect as I have a profound knowledge of this area.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) C2 (Native Level) DELE Diploma from Instituto Cervantes Grade A A-level in Spanish My partner is Spanish so Spanish is the main language spoken at home. I also spend many months in Spain (Andalucia) each year with my in-laws. I have translated and proofread many Spanish documents including CVs for art academies and translations of GCSE papers from French to Spanish for ZigZag Education.

El Pensador, Bristol University

MA Applied Linguistics BA Hons Modern Language Studies DELE C2 in Spanish. CILS C1 in Italian CELTA qualified A Level Spanish

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