Spanish is a language full of terms of endearment that are used at all levels, and love phrases in Spanish often involve these words to address friends, family and romantic partners. If you are relatively new to Spanish, It is important to know which ones to use with whom, to avoid making a fool of ourselves!
Many women use “linda” (“lovely one”) or “corazón” among themselves just as a warm way to address each other. It conveys care and affection and is used as widely as among coworkers. However, note that the masculine equivalent, “lindo” does not work in this context. “Bonita” would also be a good word to use among women. Bear in mind though, men using these exact same words -“linda”, “corazón” or “bonita”- on the opposite sex immediately acquire a more romantic twist.
“Cariño” (dear) and “amor” (love) would be words you’d use to address your significant other; “eres un ángel” (“you’re an angel”) works for both sexes and is equally romantic. “Mi vida” (“my life”) is also very common especially in Mexico and Central America, just as “mi tesoro” (“my treasure”), which is used for both romantic and simply affectionate purposes.
A very special trait of Latin culture that may be shocking to English speakers is the use of race and physical appearance as terms of endearment. “Chino” literally means “Chinese” but is frequently used to address all Asians more as a term of endearment than an offensive word; the same goes for “negro” (black). Diminutives are used a lot to soften the words, so you have “chinita” or “chinito” and “negrito” and “negrita”. Some countries in Latin America even use “gordito” or “gordita” which is strictly a term of endearment –be careful with this one, it literally means “fat one”!- and is by no means offensive if used among loved ones. Remember these words are all charged with affection, and hearing them from a Spanish speaker is supposed to be nice and warm, so think twice before getting offended or answering back!
Love for food in Latin culture also shows in love phrases in Spanish. For example, “Bombón” is literally translated into chocolate (“caja de bombones” means “box of chocolates”) and is often used in the far south part of Latin America such as Argentina and Uruguay. Another example would be “Caramelo” which literally means “candy” or “caramel” and the equivalent to “sweetheart” in English. “Mi terroncito de azúcar” (“my sugarcube”) would be another word, especially used among Mexicans. However, the best example would be “Media naranja” (“half orange”), and is the one phrase in Spanish to refer to your other half.
Want to be a bit bolder and really get in the Latin passion thing? Try “mamacita rica” (hot mama) or “papacito rico” (hot papa) which definitely has a sexy edge to it, especially in Central America. “Mami” and “Papi” are less sexual and more day-to-day romantic ways to call your sweetie.
The list goes on, but with these few words to start with - do you have any more of your own?