HomeQ&AQuestion about "Te amo"

Question about "Te amo"

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Heidita and I had this exchange (on comment walls):

Heidita's vocabulary list: amar = to love (for couples)

Natasha said: Is amar really only for couples? I say to my baby all the time, "Te amo." Is it wrong?

Heidita said: Amar in Spain is almost never used. Especially not for family members. Only for couples and then very rarely.
I would find it very strange to hear somebody say to their baby: te amo.

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What about in other countries? When would you say "te amo"? I am particularly interested in Mexican usage.

4580 views
updated DIC 11, 2008
posted by Natasha

18 Answers

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One of my very good friends is Spanish, and when she's talking to me about a conversation she had in Spanish with someone, for example, she'll say "i said 'ya, ya, entiendo' y el ha dicho 'lo te creo'"
so, she begins to speak to me in Spanish without realising. Maybe it's because of the sentence it revolves arround, and once her mind's in that language, it carries on like that.

But back to the point, I think saying 'te amo' is more personal and intimate, as you would say to your partner, and 'te quiero' is more commonly used, although i don't think it's wrong at all to say 'te amo' to your child.

Natasha said:

Very interesting indeed. My friend will switch between Spanish & English when he's talking to me, without seeming to realize he's changed languages.

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updated DIC 11, 2008
posted by holdonhope
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I just joined the forum and found it funny (in a good way) that there is a discussion about te amo and te quiero. In the other Spanish English forums I've been on this question always brings a lot of responses. When I tell my colombiana amiga 'te amo? she tells me that I have been watching too many telenovelas.

updated NOV 26, 2008
posted by mullet60
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Very interesting indeed. My friend will switch between Spanish & English when he's talking to me, without seeming to realize he's changed languages.

James Santiago said:

This morning, I asked a gentleman here who's from Nicaragua, "How do you tell your kids, 'I love you' in Spanish'" (His children are bilingual.) He said, "Te amo." So I told him about the Te quiero / Te amo distinction that had been pointed out, and he said, yeah, that's right. "Te quiero" is better. My kids say, "Te quiero mucho, papá."What your friend did is a fascinating glimpse into the human mind and how it works. People have trouble "switching" between languages. The experts tell us that our native language is stored in one part of the brain, while all foreign languages (those learned after the age of five) are stored together in another part. I'm certain that your friend was thinking in English when he first answered you, and it took a moment for him to switch his brain gears to Spanish, at which point he realized that what he really would say is "Te quiero."This phenomenon is readily apparent in beginning translators, whose translations always sound stilted, even when writing in their native language, because they haven't yet learned how to switch, and are still thinking in the source language that they have read. For example, in Japanese technical writing it is common to say "sokutei wo okonau," which is literally "perform measurement," and that is how new translators often render it, although in natural English we would just say "measure."

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updated NOV 25, 2008
posted by Natasha
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This morning, I asked a gentleman here who's from Nicaragua, "How do you tell your kids, 'I love you' in Spanish'" (His children are bilingual.) He said, "Te amo." So I told him about the Te quiero / Te amo distinction that had been pointed out, and he said, yeah, that's right. "Te quiero" is better. My kids say, "Te quiero mucho, papá."

What your friend did is a fascinating glimpse into the human mind and how it works. People have trouble "switching" between languages. The experts tell us that our native language is stored in one part of the brain, while all foreign languages (those learned after the age of five) are stored together in another part. I'm certain that your friend was thinking in English when he first answered you, and it took a moment for him to switch his brain gears to Spanish, at which point he realized that what he really would say is "Te quiero."

This phenomenon is readily apparent in beginning translators, whose translations always sound stilted, even when writing in their native language, because they haven't yet learned how to switch, and are still thinking in the source language that they have read. For example, in Japanese technical writing it is common to say "sokutei wo okonau," which is literally "perform measurement," and that is how new translators often render it, although in natural English we would just say "measure."

updated NOV 25, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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This morning, I asked a gentleman here who's from Nicaragua, "How do you tell your kids, 'I love you' in Spanish'" (His children are bilingual.) He said, "Te amo." So I told him about the Te quiero / Te amo distinction that had been pointed out, and he said, yeah, that's right. "Te quiero" is better. My kids say, "Te quiero mucho, papá."

James Santiago said:

No me refería a hablar a los niños, sino a hablar de niños. Tendré que reescribir esa frase mejor. Me refería a esto:Quien no ama a los perros no ama a los niños.I wonder if the English in such cases might be closer to "have a love for" than to "love."A person with no love for dogs will have no love for children.Getting back to the original question, Natasha, I think you would be much better off telling your child "Te quiero." If you have any Hispanic friends, ask them in English how they would say "I love you" to their children.

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updated NOV 25, 2008
posted by Natasha
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Not to sure about mexico but I would not find it strange to say te amo, as you'd either say this or te quiero, which I prefer to use.

updated NOV 25, 2008
posted by Joanna-etienne
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Muchas gracias a todos por las respuestas. Todavía me parece extraño que en los libros de texto, "te amo" siempre se enseña.

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by Natasha
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Ves, Nati, he arrastrado a mi amigo Shrek a este hilo. Si él lo dice.....
Para el caso es igual en España. Amar se usa ,pero no en tu caso, y rara vez incluso para parejas.

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by 00494d19
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En México usamos querer para referirse a el amor que uno tiene para los padres, los hijos, los amigos, la familia, etc. Usamos amar para referirnos al amor que uno le tiene a su pareja llámese novia(o), esposa(o), amante, etc.

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by Shrek
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No me refería a hablar a los niños, sino a hablar de niños. Tendré que reescribir esa frase mejor. Me refería a esto:
Quien no ama a los perros no ama a los niños.

I wonder if the English in such cases might be closer to "have a love for" than to "love."

A person with no love for dogs will have no love for children.

Getting back to the original question, Natasha, I think you would be much better off telling your child "Te quiero." If you have any Hispanic friends, ask them in English how they would say "I love you" to their children.

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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lazarus1907 said:

Heidita said:

No puedo estar de acuerdo con esto. Se usa a veces con.. los niños y otras personas

No me refería a hablar a los niños, sino a hablar de niños. Tendré que reescribir esa frase mejor. Me refería a esto:

  • Quien no ama a los perros no ama a los niños.*

Ah....es diferente. Yo lo había interpretado así.

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by 00494d19
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Heidita said:

No puedo estar de acuerdo con esto.

Se usa a veces con.. los niños y otras personas

No me refería a hablar a los niños, sino a hablar de niños. Tendré que reescribir esa frase mejor. Me refería a esto:
*
Quien no ama a los perros no ama a los niños.*

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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No puedo estar de acuerdo con esto.

Se usa a veces con.. los niños y otras personas

Me resultaría realmente extraño oír decir a la madre de un alumno para despedir a su hijo/a:

Pedrito, recuerda que te amo.

Susi, tu madre te ama.

¡Jesús!

En el caso que nos concierne...¿considerarías normal lo que Natasha dice a su hijo'

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by 00494d19
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Mine is far from being the final word, but I have always heard members of Mexican families use querer to each other, and I don't recall ever hearing amar used in a non-romantic way among family members.

They say that Eskimos have many words for ice, so it shouldn't surprise us that Latinos have more than one word for love! grin

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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¿Refieres a la usa en España solamente, o en varios países?

lazarus1907 said:

De mi proyecto de diccionario:amar1. Sentir amor por [alguien: CDir] ? odiar.? En el lenguaje hablado se prefiere «querer», ya que este verbo resulta en general demasiado literario o formal. Romeo y Julieta se amaban por encima de todo.? Se usa a veces con Dios, los niños y otras personas, especialmente cuando se expresan sentimientos muy elevados o que se comparten con un colectivo.2. Sentir pasión o necesidad por [algo: CDir] idealizado, transcendental o indispensable, como la patria, la justicia, el peligro, el lujo, etc. Amo la música clásica.

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updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by Natasha
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