The words “amar” and “querer” according to RAE are synonyms; however, in Colombia, at least, “amar” is considered a stronger feeling, a highest level of love, if you can say that.

For example, I can tell a good friend of mine “te quiero mucho” but I never tell my daughter “te quiero”. I either tell her “te amo” or “te adoro”. Conversely, I don't tell my good friend “te amo”.

Another example: When you are starting a relationship with a girl, you start telling her “te quiero” and as time goes by and your feelings start to grow stronger, you start telling her “te amo”.

Regarding “adorar”, RAE does indicate that “adorar” is a stronger feeling than “amar”: 3. tr. Amar con extremo.

So my two questions are:

  1. In your country, is the word “amar” also considered a higher level of love (for lack of a better description) compared to “querer”?

  2. Assuming it does, how would you say “te amo” in English? (I only know “I love you” but I feel that it lacks something...)

  • Related: spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/407/…
    – jrdioko
    Jan 25, 2012 at 15:47
  • @jrdioko Thanks, indeed related. This site didn't suggest it but I still think my question is somewhat different to the one you linked.
    – Icarus
    Jan 25, 2012 at 15:53
  • Adoro is to warship "adoro a Dios"
    – Rose
    Aug 19, 2016 at 12:37

3 Answers 3


In connection to Laura's answer, I don't think that "amar" is nearly out of use in Spain. It does belong to a different register of speech, though, than "querer". For example, when I talk with my wife, I tell her "te quiero", but rarely (possibly never) "te amo". "Querer" belongs to colloquial speech, whereas "amar" belongs to a more poetic and cultivated register. "Nos amábamos de un modo inexplicable en aquellos días" is a sentence that employs "amar" with clear poetic connotations; you would probably find it in a novel or other literary work rather than hear it in the street.

So, in summary, and according to my experience, "amar" is alive and kicking in Spain, but not necessarily in everyday's colloquial language. This doesn't mean it's out of use.

With regard to "adorar", again, is a very strong word, and therefore is often used to convey extremely strong feelings or in a poetic or exaggerated setting. One can say colloquially "adoro las manzanas" to express that he/she loves apples a lot, and this usage is pretty common in Spain from my experience.

  • Beyond the style aspect (colloquial vs poetic) would you consider amar as a stronger feeling than querer or not at all?
    – Icarus
    Jan 25, 2012 at 16:28
  • 1
    @Icarus: If you are speaking colloquially, then "amar" would convey a stronger feeling than "querer", definitely. If, on the contrary, you were writing a piece of literature, than I'd say they are equivalent. What's more, in this case you probably wouldn't use "querer" at all but "amar" all the time.
    – CesarGon
    Jan 25, 2012 at 16:32
  • @CesarGon: This may be the case in Spain, but it is totally wrong as a use of the word in Spanish. Every single couple I know from Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, and Colombia use "te amo" because they feel a very strong kind of love between each other. Also "adorar" even though your example is accurate some people, especially very religious ones, use it exclusively in reference to God. Apr 30, 2012 at 21:37
  • @SergioRomero: That is fair enough. I made clear in my answer that I am speaking about Spanish in Spain. I am aware that language usage varies greatly across regions, so it may well be different elsewhere. No problem with that.
    – CesarGon
    Apr 30, 2012 at 22:08
  • I like this answer. In Mexico te amo might feel cursi or stilted for some people and they would feel more comfortable with te quiero. Sep 24, 2019 at 6:37

In Spain "amar" (at least in my area - Mallorca) is nearly out of use and we use "querer" for all the situations you proposed, if you want to emphasize you add "mucho" or "muchísimo"

  • Quiero mucho a mis hijos
  • Quiero a mis amigos

"Adorar" is used as "amar in extremo" but never seriously, always ironically or with sarcasm or joking.

  • "Te quiero, te adoro, te compro un loro" (I love you, I adore you, I'm buying you a parrot) it's a "usual" joke.

  • Another example could be someone after joking or beig clumsy or... "pero me quieres igual" (But you love me anyway) "Sí, te adoro" (Yes, I adore you).

  • +1 @Laura Thanks. Let's see if other participants on this site confirm that amar is falling out of use in other regions of Spain.
    – Icarus
    Jan 25, 2012 at 16:04
  • I also think that amar is not very used. You can hear it in films and such, but not in everyday use. Regarding adorar, I think it is used without an ironical tone, but it is not used much, either. In fact, I would say it's more usually used in the "gustar de algo extremadamente" meaning, rather than the "amar con extremo", or even, taking the second meaning of adorable (encantador), as encontrar adorable.
    – MikMik
    Jan 26, 2012 at 9:52
  • @MikMik Maybe it's more regional than we think? If someone says to me "adoro las manzanas" it wouls sound strange or an enormous exageration...
    – Laura
    Jan 26, 2012 at 18:36

Te quiero = I love you
Te amo = I'm in love with you

Querer is to care, have an interest.
Amar is romantic love, it's a stronger deeper feelings of love.

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