Words To Love By

Part 1: Introduction

Sculpture by Robert Indiana in Valencia, Spain
Sculpture by Robert Indiana in Valencia, Spain. Photo by Sento used under terms of Creative Commons license.

I love you. I love strawberries. The score is love all. They made love. I would love to see you.

Does "love" mean the same thing in all of the above sentences? Obviously not. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are many words in Spanish that can be translated as "love." Use the verb amar or the noun amor to translate all the above sentences, and you'll sound foolish at best.

The idea that almost any word in one language can be translated into just one or two words in another language can lead to serious mistakes in vocabulary. Similarly, the fact that literally dozens of words can be used to translate even a simple word such as "love" is one thing that makes computerized translation so maddeningly undependable. Understanding context is one key to effective translation.

Before you go further, see how many words you can come up with that can accurately translate "love" as a noun, verb, or part of a phrase. Then compare your list with the list below.

"Love" as a noun

  • afición (enthusiasm): Tiene afición por las cosas de su tierra. She has a love for the things of her land.
  • amado (sweetheart)
  • amante (sweetheart)
  • amistad (friendship)
  • amor (pure love, romantic love)
  • caridad (charity): Si yo hablase lenguas humanas y angélicas, y no tengo caridad … . If I speak in tongues of humans and angels, and have not love … .
  • cariño/a (sweetheart):
  • cero (score in tennis): Cero a cero. Love all.
  • pasión (passion, not necessarily romantic): Tiene una pasión por vivir, una pasión por saber. He has a love of living, a love of knowledge.
  • querido (sweetheart)
  • recuerdos (regards): Mándale recuerdos míos. Send him my love.

"Love" as a verb

  • amar (to love, to love romantically): Te amo. I love you.
  • encantar (indicating strong like): Me encanta escribir. I love to write.
  • gustar mucho (indicating strong like): Me gusta mucho este sofá. I love this sofa.
  • querer (to love romantically, to want): Te quiero. I love you.

Phrases using "love"

  • amarío (love affair)
  • amor a primera vista (love at first sight)
  • amor mío (my love)
  • aventura amorosa (love affair)
  • canción de amor (love song)
  • carta amatoria (love letter)
  • carta de amor (love letter)
  • enamorarse (to fall in love with): Me enamoré de una bruja. I fell in love with a witch.
  • estar enamorado (to be in love): Estoy enamorada de él. I am in love with him.
  • flechazo (love at first sight): Fue flechazo. It was love at first sight.
  • hacer el amor (to make love)
  • historia de amor (love story)
  • lance de amor (love affair)
  • me quiere, no me quiere (she loves me, she loves me not)
  • mi amor (my love)
  • no se llevan bien (there is no love lost between them)
  • no se tienen ningún aprecio (there is no love lost between them)
  • periquito (love bird or parakeet)
  • por el amor de (for the love of): Por el amor de una rosa, el jardinero es servidor de mil espinas. For the love of a rose, the gardener is the servant of a thousand thorns.
  • por nada del mundo (not for love nor money)
  • por pura afición (for the pure love of it, just for the love of it): Toca el piano por pura afición. She plays the piano just for the love of it.
  • prenda de amor (love token)
  • relaciones sexuales (love making)
  • vida sexual (love life)