They don't call it a romance language for nothing. Apart from sounding beautiful spoken, Spanish has a few ways to say, "I love you," and each has a different meaning. Say "te quieres" to close friends and family members and reserve "te amo" for your significant other. Other variations on "I love you" are "te necesito," "te adoro" and "estoy enamorado."
In English, we would say "I love you" just as easily to a parent as we would to a spouse. However, the Spanish language differentiates between romantic love and friendly, family oriented love. "Te quiero" is pronounced "tay key-air-oh" and is used more among close friends and family members. "Quiero" is a conjugation of the verb "querer," which means "to want." Although the phrase literally translates to "I want you," the phrase doesn't necessarily have the same sexual undertones as it would in English. Say "te quiero" to express affection for a friend, parent or family member.
Say "te amo" (tay ah-moh) when you want to convey a deep sense of romantic love. "Amo" is a conjugation of the verb "amar," which means "to love." Save this one for you spouse or soul mate. Think of "te amo" as what you say at that critical juncture in a relationship when you realize she is "the one."
Variations on "I Love You"
There's a variety of other ways to say "I love you" in Spanish. "Te adoro" (ah-door-oh) means "I adore you," and "te necesito" (tay ness-eh-see-toh) means "I need you." A more formal way of expressing romantic love is to say, "Estoy enamorado" (es-toy en-ah-moor-ah-doh), which translates to "I'm in love." If you're female, say "enamorada" instead of "enamorado." An informal, fun way of communicating friendly affection is to end a conversation by saying "besos y abrazos" (bey-sohs ee a-brah-sohs). It translates to the phrase "kisses and hugs" and has a similar connotation as it does in English.
If you want to spice things up, use a more complex sentence or phrase to express your love. For example, "Te amo y quiero estar contigo para siempre" translates to "I love you and I want to be with you forever." You also might say, "Siempre pienso en ti," which means "I always think about you." If you want to ask if the person loves you back, you might ask, "Me quieres?" or "Me amas?"