One of the reasons to study Spanish is the possibility to meet and communicate with people who don’t speak your native language. What an enriching, mind-opening, and fun experience it might turn out to be!
Through Spanish, you can make new friends, and – who knows – maybe even find the love of your life. Just like I have.
The way we talk to people we care about: our parents, children, friends, or life partners, is full of affection.
“Hi, buddy, how is it going?”
“Be careful, sweetie, it is dangerous,”
“Good morning, baby, breakfast’s ready.”
For those of you who have Spanish speaking friends or whose significant others come from Spain or Latin America, I’m sure you’d like to know some typical terms of endearment to include in your daily conversations.
How to Express Your Affection towards a Friend in Spanish
Friends are, without the slightest doubt, one of the best things that can happen to you in life. Making Spanish speaking friends is relatively easy. Both Spaniards and Latin Americans tend to be open, easy-going, helpful, kind, and fun to be around.
At first sight, they might even seem a little overwhelming. They are padding you on the shoulder, kissing you on the cheek, asking about your personal matters, telling you about theirs whether you care or not, or inviting you to their homes two days after they’ve met you.
If you come from a rather reserved culture and like to have your personal space respected, it might all come as a bit of shock. But then you get used to it. You even learn to enjoy it.
Test Your Spanish Knowledge 👇
Do you want to see some common ways friends express their affection to each other in Spanish? Here are a few examples:
- 🇪🇸 amigo / amiga – 🇬🇧 friend (male / female)
- 🇪🇸 amigazo – 🇬🇧 good, old friend
- 🇪🇸 amiguito – 🇬🇧 pal (to a child)
- 🇪🇸 chamo, güey, weón, viejo, compa – 🇬🇧 buddy, pal, mate, dude (slang words in different countries)
- 🇪🇸 amistad – 🇬🇧 friendship
- 🇪🇸 (mi) querido / (mi) querida – 🇬🇧 dear
- 🇪🇸 Te quiero mucho – 🇬🇧 I love you (also like you or care for you) very much
- 🇪🇸 Eres el / la mejor – 🇬🇧 you’re the best
- 🇪🇸 No sé qué haría sin tí! – 🇬🇧 I don’t know what I would do without you
- 🇪🇸 Siempre puedes contar conmigo – 🇬🇧 You can always count on me
🇪🇸 ¡Qué bueno verte de nuevo, amiga! Te he echado mucho de menos.
🇬🇧 How good to see you again, girl! I’ve missed you a lot.
🇪🇸 ¡Tanto tiempo, amigazo! ¿Cómo has estado?
🇬🇧 Long time no see, mate! How’ve you been?
🇪🇸 Gracias por escucharme, amiga. ¡Eres la mejor!
🇬🇧 Thanks for a friendly ear / for being such a good listener, my friend. You’re the best!
🇪🇸 ¡Me muero de ganas de verte, amiga! ¡Tengo tanto que contarte!
🇬🇧 I can’t wait to see you, girl! I have so much to tell you!
🇪🇸 ¿Qué piensas hacer este fin de semana, güey? – typical for México
🇬🇧 Hey, mate, what are you planning to do this weekend?
🇪🇸 ¡Tomémonos unas chelas, weón! – common slang in Chile
🇬🇧 Let’s have a couple of pints, mate!
🇪🇸 ¡Hola, mi querida! ¡Te ves estupenda!
🇬🇧 Hello, my dear. You look splendid!
Spanish Terms of Endearment Between Lovers
When you fall in love, your words become kind and tender. You always compliment your better half, calling them sweet and affection-filled names.
“Love”, “Darling”, “Honey”, “Babe”, “Sweetheart” – there are so many terms of endearment that you can use in English to let your partner know how much you care for them.
Spanish is filled with similar expressions, too:
- 🇪🇸 (mi) amor – 🇬🇧 (my) love
- 🇪🇸 amor de mi vida – 🇬🇧 love of my life
- 🇪🇸 cariño – 🇬🇧 darling, honey, hun
- 🇪🇸 bebé – 🇬🇧 baby, babe
- 🇪🇸 (mi) rey / (mi) reina – 🇬🇧 (my) love
- 🇪🇸 (mi) cielo – 🇬🇧 literally (my) heaven
- 🇪🇸 linda, hermosa – 🇬🇧 pretty one
- 🇪🇸 preciosa – 🇬🇧 precious (to a woman)
- 🇪🇸 guapo / guapetón – 🇬🇧 handsome
- 🇪🇸 flaco / flaca – 🇬🇧 skinny one
- 🇪🇸 negro / negra – 🇬🇧 literally: black, can be translated as “chocolate-skinned”,
- 🇪🇸 mi luz – 🇬🇧 my light
- 🇪🇸 mi sol – 🇬🇧 my sunshine
- 🇪🇸 mi vida / vida mía – 🇬🇧 my life
- 🇪🇸 mami / papi – 🇬🇧 mommy / daddy (used mainly in the Caribbean countries)
Some of these words sound more romantic than others, some can be used as a pick-up line, and some (gordo, flaca, negra) have an every-day, known-you-all-my-life quality to them.
I hope the examples below will help you to get a better grasp of what sounds well in what context:
🇪🇸 Buenos días amor, ¿cómo dormiste?
🇬🇧 Good morning, my love; how did you sleep?
🇪🇸 ¿Puedes ayudarme en la cocina, cariño?
🇬🇧 Can you help me in the kitchen, darling?
🇪🇸 Te ves preciosa con este vestido, mi reina.
🇬🇧 You look gorgeous in this dress, my queen.
🇪🇸 ¿Cómo te sientes, mi vida?
🇬🇧 How are you feeling, my life?
🇪🇸 ¡Oye, guapo! ¿Cuándo nos vamos a ver de nuevo?
🇬🇧 Hey handsome! When are we going to see each other again?
🇪🇸 Gracias por las flores, mi cielo, ¡me encantaron!
🇬🇧 Thanks for the flowers, my heaven (honey), I loved them!
🇪🇸 Trae unas pizzas, papi, que tenemos invitados.
🇬🇧 Bring some pizzas, daddy (love), we have guests.
🇪🇸 ¿Por qué no vamos a bailar esta noche, flaca?
🇬🇧 Why don’t we go dancing tonight, skinny one?
How to Address Children with Affection in Spanish
Most of the time, when you talk to little children – whether they are or aren’t your own – caring and sweet words just come naturally, don’t they?
How to talk to a child in Spanish with love and affection?
First of all, you’ll need some of these words:
- 🇪🇸 cariño – 🇬🇧 honey
- 🇪🇸 mi niño precioso / mi niña preciosa – 🇬🇧 my precious little boy / little girl
- 🇪🇸 nene / nena – 🇬🇧 baby boy / baby girl
- 🇪🇸 corazón – 🇬🇧 sweetheart
- 🇪🇸 (mi) pequeño/ pequeñín – 🇬🇧 (my) little one (to a boy)
- 🇪🇸 (mi) pequeña – 🇬🇧 (my) little one (to a girl)
- 🇪🇸 (mi) tesoro – 🇬🇧 (my) treasure
- 🇪🇸 changuito – 🇬🇧 little monkey
- 🇪🇸 (mi) muñeca – 🇬🇧 (my) doll ( to a girl)
- 🇪🇸 (mi) princesa / (mi) principe – 🇬🇧 (my) princess / (my) prince
- 🇪🇸 señorita – 🇬🇧 young lady (a loving and slightly formal term to address a little girl)
- 🇪🇸 mijo / mijito – 🇬🇧 my son (usually used by the elderly when addressing boys or younger men)
- 🇪🇸 mija / mijita – 🇬🇧 my daughter (usually used by the elderly when addressing girls or younger women)
🇪🇸 Paula, cariño, ya es hora de acostarse.
🇬🇧 Paula, sweetie, it’s bedtime.
🇪🇸 ¿De quién es este niño precioso? ¡Es de la mamá!
🇬🇧 Whose precious boy is this? He’s mommy’s!
🇪🇸 Juanito, mi tesoro, come un poquito más.
🇬🇧 Juanito, my treasure, eat a little more.
🇪🇸 Y esta señorita tan grande? ¿Es Paloma? ¡Cómo has crecido, mi niña!
🇬🇧 And this tall young lady? Is this Paloma? You’re so grown, my child!
🇪🇸 ¿Dónde le duele, pequeñín?
🇬🇧 Where does it hurt, little one?
🇪🇸 Ayúdame a levantarme, mijo, que me duele mucho la espalda.
🇬🇧 Help me to stand up, my son, for my back hurts a lot.
🇪🇸 Cuando yo tenía tu edad, mijita, no usaba faldas tan cortas.
🇬🇧 When I was your age, my daughter, I didn’t wear such short skirts.
Diminutive Form and How to Use It to Expresses Endearment in Spanish
The diminutive form, so widely used in Spanish, is a great way to express affection.
You can start off by making the name of the person sound “little”. You achieve this by adding or replacing its ending with “-ito”, “-ita”, or “-itos”. As a result, people will know that you are calling them in a friendly way.
Carlos will become Carlitos
Juan will turn into Juanito
Paloma will change to Palomita
🇪🇸 Hola Carlitos, ¿qué tal tu fin de semana?
🇬🇧 Hi, Carlos, my friend, how was your weekend?
🇪🇸 ¿Me puede prestar su sierra eléctrica, Juanito? Se la devuelvo de inmediato.
🇬🇧 Can you lend me your electric saw, Juan, my friend? I’ll give it back right away.
🇪🇸 Te tengo un regalo, Palomita.
🇬🇧 I have a gift for you, Paloma, my friend.
You can also shorten the name of someone who is dear to you, just like you do in English (Bob, Mike, Will, etc.)
Just to show you a few examples:
Sofí is short for Sofía
Ale for Alejandra or Alejandro
Pancho for Francisco
Joaco for Joaquín
🇪🇸 Sofí, ¿me ayudas con la tarea de física, por favor?
🇬🇧 Sofi, can you help me with the physics homework, please?
🇪🇸 Hola, Pame, ¿cómo estás?
🇬🇧 Hi, Pame, how are you?
🇪🇸 Un gusto verte, Pancho!
🇬🇧 Nice to see you, Pancho.
Many other popular terms of endearment in Spanish originate from the diminutive form of nouns:
- 🇪🇸 hijita / hijito – 🇬🇧 little daughter / little son
- 🇪🇸 (mi) chiquito / pequeñito – 🇬🇧 my little one (to a boy)
- 🇪🇸 (mi) chiquitita / pequeñita – 🇬🇧 my little one (to a girl)
- 🇪🇸 (mi) princesita – 🇬🇧 (my) little princess
- 🇪🇸 gordito / gordita – 🇬🇧 (my) princess
- 🇪🇸 osito / osita – 🇬🇧 little teddy bear
- 🇪🇸 conejita – 🇬🇧 little bunny girl
- 🇪🇸 pollito – 🇬🇧 little chicken
- 🇪🇸 bichito – 🇬🇧 little bug
- 🇪🇸 mami – mamita / papi -papito – 🇬🇧 little mommy / little daddy
- 🇪🇸 corazoncito – 🇬🇧 sweetheart
- 🇪🇸 angelito – 🇬🇧 little angel
🇪🇸 Ven, bichito, vamos a jugar.
🇬🇧 Come, little bug, let’s play.
🇪🇸 Carlitos, papi, te ensuciaste entero otra vez.
🇬🇧 Carlos, little one, you’re all dirty again.
🇪🇸 No llores, corazoncito, ya lo vamos a solucionar.
🇬🇧 Don’t cry, little sweetheart; we’re going to solve it somehow. (To a child or any other loved one)
🇪🇸 ¿Quieres que te prepare un rico almuerzo, princesita?
🇬🇧 Do you want me to prepare a delicious lunch for you, little princess?
To be honest, the use of diminutive form in Latin America seems a little excessive. Virtually anything here can become little and cute:
🇪🇸 té – tecito – 🇬🇧 little tea
🇪🇸 café – cafecito – 🇬🇧 little coffee
🇪🇸 agua – agüita – 🇬🇧 little water
🇪🇸 cintura – cinturita – 🇬🇧 little waist
🇪🇸 mano – manito – 🇬🇧 little hand
🇪🇸 papel – papelito – 🇬🇧 small piece of paper, a slip
🇪🇸 ¿Te ofrezco algo para tomar? ¿Un tecito, tal vez?
🇬🇧 Can I offer you something to drink? A tea, perhaps?
🇪🇸 Cristobal, dáme tu manito, hijo. Vamos a cruzar la calle.
🇬🇧 Cristobal, give me your hand, son. We are about to cross the street.
Using USTED to Express Endearment in Spanish
One of the main challenges English speakers face when learning Spanish is the two different formality levels that this language has, expressed by the pronouns “TÚ” and “USTED.”
We normally use “TÚ” when we talk to a friend, a sibling, or a peer in an informal and non-binding context.
“USTED”, on the other hand, implies respect and a subordinate-superior relationship. It can also be used between people who don’t know each other.
Curiosingly, you can also show love and care in Spanish by addressing people with “USTED”.
Have a look:
🇪🇸 Amor, se ve muy linda usted hoy.
🇬🇧 Love, you look very pretty today (ma’am).
🇪🇸 ¿Necesita que le ayude, amorcito?
🇬🇧 Do you need me to help you, baby (sir)?
🇪🇸 No se preocupe, mi reina, todo va a salir bien.
🇬🇧 Don’t worry, my queen (ma’am), everything will be fine.
🇪🇸 Lo siento mucho, mi vida, pero no lo podré acompañar.
🇬🇧 I’m very sorry, my life, but I won’t be able to go with you (sir).
🇪🇸 Váyase a descansar, mi cielo.
🇬🇧 Go rest, my darling.
🇪🇸 Le tengo que decir algo, mi amor, pero no se enoje, bueno?
🇬🇧 I have to tell you something, love (sir), but don’t get mad, OK?
In some Spanish speaking countries, “USTED” can be even used to a child:
🇪🇸 Mucho gusto, señorita, ¿cómo se llama usted?
🇬🇧 Nice to meet you, young lady; what’s your name (ma’am)?
🇪🇸 Venga, cariño, le voy a limpiar las manitos.
🇬🇧 Come, sweetie, I’ll clean your little hands.
🇪🇸 Siéntese derecho, mi niño.
🇬🇧 Sit straight, my boy.
I was quite startled at first when my husband used this formal way of speaking with me. Now I am used to it and I understand that what lays behind it is affection.
Terms of Endearment in Written Spanish
Are you working on a love letter for a girl you’ve met in Argentina, jotting a few words for a family in Peru or writing an email to a friend in Mexico? Perhaps you’ll make use of these common phrases of affections:
- 🇪🇸 querida mamá – 🇬🇧 dear mom
- 🇪🇸 con todo mi amor – 🇬🇧 with all my love
- 🇪🇸 con cariño – 🇬🇧 with affection
- 🇪🇸 cariñosamente – 🇬🇧 affectionally
- 🇪🇸 (te mando) muchos saludos – 🇬🇧 (I am sending you) many greetings
- 🇪🇸 (te mando) un fuerte abrazo – 🇬🇧 (I am sending you) a tight hug
- 🇪🇸 (te mando) un beso grande – 🇬🇧 (I am sending you) a big kiss
- 🇪🇸 Te extraño – 🇬🇧 I miss you
As you can see, the Spanish language offers a wide array of possibilities when it comes to expressing affection. I hope you all, just like me, fall in love with this language and its people and get plenty of opportunities to use the words and phrases I showed you today.