There are two ways to say “I love you” in Spanish. One uses the verb querer and one uses the verb amar.
I love you.
Te quiero. (using querer)
I love you.
Te amo. (using amar)
Which one you should use depends on what country or region you’re in. Some countries might use one or the other. Some countries use both. If both are used te amo will almost always mean a deeper and stronger way of saying “I love you.” You’ll probably hear te quiero thrown around more than te amo since it’s not as strong.
In some areas you can use te quiero for your family, lover or spouse but only use te amo for your lover or spouse, not for family or friends. Maybe one way to explain the difference is saying te quiero is like saying “I love you” and te amo is more like saying “I’m in love with you.” You can say “I love you” to your family and friends but you are not “in love with” your family and friends. Again this is only in some countries because in some other countries they do say things like “amo a mis padres” (I love my parents).
In some countries saying te amo comes across as corny, like something from a cheesy telenovela. It’s not commonly heard and is mostly something from poetry or literature.
One thing you can be pretty sure of is “I love you” is thrown around more freely in Spanish speaking countries than in Western countries. In countries like the US it’s looked at as a big step in a relationship when someone says it. It’s not as big of a deal in the Latin culture. So if somebody tells you “te quiero” sooner than you expected to hear it, it doesn’t carry as much weight to it like if someone in the US said “I love you.”
A lot of people say “I love you” in the context of missing somebody who you aren’t with at the moment. You can go here for how to say “I miss you” in Spanish.
Go to this post for how to say “I like you” in Spanish.
Some more love in Spanish:
Do you love me?
I love you so much.
Te quiero mucho.
teh kee-her-oh moo-choh.
I love her.
I love him.
She loves you.
Ella te quiere.
eh-yah teh kee-ehr-eh.
He loves you.
Él te quiere.
EHl teh kee-ehr-eh.
I’m in love with you. (to a girl)
Estoy enamorado de ti.
ehs-toy ehn-ahm-oh-rah-doh deh tee.
I’m in love with you. (to a guy)
Estoy enamorada de ti.
ehs-toy ehn-ahm-oh-rah-dah deh tee.
The point of no return: Marry me in Spanish.