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What is the best way to translate sentences like:

  • I'm so excited to see you next week!
  • He's really excited about graduation.
  • We're excited to have you come visit for Christmas.

Do emocionado and entusiasmado convey the same sentiment as excited, or are there subtle differences in meaning?

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I'll tell you one secret - at least from a linguistic point of view, Spaniards are really not likely to convey their emotions as directly as English speakers do.

Rather than

Estamos muy emocionados de que vengas por navidad

(which is absolutely correct Spanish), we would avoid words such as being emocionado, encantado, entusiasmado, or even estar deseando algo, and do some unconscious "workaround" instead, like:

¡A ver si nos vemos ya pronto, en Navidad!

¡Nos vemos la semana que viene!

This doesn't mean you can't use an affective intonation, of course :)

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But Mexicans on the other hand are more likely to convey their emotions directly. – hippietrail Nov 16 '11 at 16:49
In Colombia it's quite common to say "Que emoción que vengas para navidad" – DGaleano Jan 7 at 15:08

"emocionado" sounds a little less formal, just a little. But they both have the same meaning when they are used to translate "excited to" or "exited about"

As long as you don't translate it as "estoy muy excitado de verte la siguiente semana" it should be fine XD

However, to express a strong feeling (or emotion) you can only use "emocionado". For example, you could say:

"la pelicula fué muy emocionante" or "La película me dejó emocionado"

but you can't say:

"la película fue muy entusiasmante" nor "la película me dejó entusiasmado" (it's correct but it doesn't make much sense)

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I think emocionado is a internal feeling:

  • Estoy emocionado, no tengo palabras (I can't talk).

Entusiasmado is a feeling that you can't help but show:

  • Estoy entusiasmado, no puedo dejar de sonreir ( I can't stop smiling).
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