San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Terms of Endearment: Tell Them You Care

After wading through an endless list of negative words and expressions (TT, Oct. 2), it’s time, as the old song goes, “to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the alternative and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

So, for all of you sweet-tempered souls out there, here is a catalog of kindness, courtesy and consideration.

Remember again that to use an adjective or noun to describe someone in Spanish, it is first necessary to decide whether to use ser or estar, that is whether or not it is an innate characteristic or a product of circumstances:

¡Estás muy enamorado! (You are really in love!)

Eres muy enamorado. (You are a very romantic person.)

There are a number of verbs that can express pleasure, approval and love. One of the most commonly used to express love or fondness toward another person, an animal and even a thing is querer (a). This is confusing to the English speaker because the basic meaning of querer is “to want,” and to say “I want you” in English means something entirely different:

Te quiero mucho. (I love you very much. I am very fond of you.)

El Dr. Martínez quiere a todos sus pacientes.(Dr. Martínez cares about all his patients.)

The word amar (to love), on the other hand, may also be used, but it is a more intense expression of love than querer and is usually reserved for special relationships such as marriage partners, parents, children and, of course, lovers.

To express sexual desire, the verb of choice is desear, or there’s always “Quiero hacer el amor contigo” (I want to make love to you).

Here are some other upbeat verbs:

adorar – to adore

alegrarse de/que – to be happy about/that, e.g. Me alegro de su buena suerte (I am happy about your good luck), Se alegró que fuera niña (He was glad it was a girl) caer bien a – (literally, to fall well to) to make a good impression on, e.g. Su esposa me cayó bien (His wife made a good impression on me; I liked his wife)

encantar – to enchant, a way to say you love or are crazy for someone or something, e.g. Me encanta el cine (I love the movies)

encariñarse – to become fond of, e.g. La niña se encariñó con el cachorro (The little girl became fond of the puppy)

estar de maravilla – to feel great

estar loco/a por – to be crazy about

fascinar – to fascinate, a way to say you love or are crazy for someone or something, e.g. Me fascina Costa Rica (I love Costa Rica)

disfrutar – to enjoy, to have the benefit of, to make the most of

divertirse – to have a good time

gozar – to take pleasure in

gustar – to be pleasing to (use for “like”),e.g. ¿Te gustan los gatos? (Do you like cats?)

quedar bien a – to come out well, to look good (to)

ser muy gente – to be a nice person

ser los ojos de alguien – to be the apple of someone’s eye

tener mucha chispa – to be a livewire, to be witty

verse bien – to look good

Here are some nouns and adjectives you can use to make someone happy. You probably already know some of them, but it’s nice to have others in reserve:

acogedor (adj) – cozy

agradecido/a (adj) – grateful

alegre (adj) – cheerful

amable (adj) – nice, kind

amigable (adj) – friendly

amor (n) – love, also used as an affectionate nickname

bella gente (n) – nice person

belleza (n) – beauty

bondad (n) – goodness

bonito/a (adj) – pretty

buena gente (n) – nice person

cariño (n) – affection, used as an affectionate nickname

cielo (n) – heaven, used as an affectionate nickname

confiable (adj) – trustworthy

corazón (n) – heart, used as an affectionate nickname

culto/a (adj) – cultivated, educated

dichoso/a (adj) – fortunate, blessed

digno/a (adj) – worthy

diosa (n) – goddess, said of a beautiful woman

divertido/a (adj) – comical, fun

divino/a (adj) – divine

dulce (adj) – sweet

educado/a (adj) – polite, well-bred

encantador/a (adj) – charming

fantástico/a (adj) – fantastic

ganador/a (n) – winner

genial (adj) – brilliant, great

gozo (n) – deep pleasure, joy

gracia (n) – charm, grace (also religious sense)

gracioso/a (adj) – charming, attractive

grandioso/a (adj) – great, wonderful

guapo/a (adj) – good-looking, handsome

gusto (n) – pleasure, taste

hermoso/a (adj) – beautiful

honrado/a (adj) – honest, honorable

humilde (adj) – humble (a much honored trait here)

inteligente (adj) – intelligent

lindo/a (adj) – pretty, also used as an affectionate nickname

listo/a (adj) – ready, bright, clever

mamita, mamacita (n) – “baby” (referring to a woman)

maravilloso/a (adj) – wonderful

papito, papacito (n) – “baby” (referring to a man)

precioso/a (adj) – darling, also used to address a beloved person

reina (n) – queen, used to address a beloved woman

simpático/a (adj) – likable, congenial

tierno/a (adj) – tender, sensitive, loving

tuanis (adj) – “cool”

vacilón/a (n, adj) – joker, humorous

valiente (adj) – brave, courageous

Some exclamations:

¡Felicidades! – Congratulations!

¡Qué lindo (bonito, etc.)! – How pretty (nice, wonderful, etc.)!

¡Qué dicha! – How lucky!

¡Qué chiva! – How beautiful or handsome (slang used in opposite sense)!

¡Muy amable! – How nice of you!

¡Con mucho gusto! – With much pleasure! You’re welcome!


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