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Spanish compliments: the guide for romantic & platonic situations

Compliments spread positivity. Using them is a great way to make new friends, subtly reveal your romantic interest toward somebody, or simply be nice to colleagues, acquaintances, or even strangers.

Everybody loves receiving compliments and Spanish speakers are no exception. So you shouldn’t let anything stop you from complimenting others —not even the fact that they only speak Spanish.

By the way, if you want to learn Spanish, check out this Spanish course.

Romantic Spanish compliments

Knowing some romantic Spanish compliments is useful in many situations, for instance when writing a love letter in Spanish.

Spanish compliments for a woman

Spanish compliments for women tend to be related to their physical beauty.

Here are some Spanish compliments for a beautiful girl:

« Eres hermosa/Estás hermosa. »

This is the most basic and literal way of saying “you’re beautiful” in Spanish.

As you may already know, the Spanish language has the verbs « ser » and « estar ». They’re both translated as “to be” in English, but there is a nuance:

Therefore, « ser feliz » is not the same as « estar feliz ».

However, whether you say « eres hermosa » or « estás hermosa », there is not much difference. If the girl is all dressed up for a special event or has just come out of the beauty salon, or if you haven’t seen her in a long time, you would say « estás hermosa ».

But if you say « estás hermosa » in other situations, no one would really take it to mean that you thought the girl looked beautiful only in that moment and not always.

If you want to tell her that she looks particularly beautiful today, you can say: « te ves hermosa [hoy]».

« ¡Qué guapa! ¡Qué bonita! »

The compliments « Guapa » and « bonita » work as “hermosa” in practice.

« Guapa » means “handsome”. Not many people call women “handsome” in English, but this doesn’t sound weird to most Spanish speakers. If it does sound weird, it’s because the word might not be used in their home country. For example, « guapa » is not common in Uruguay and Argentina (but it is in Spain).

The meaning of « bonita » is closer to “cute” when it’s applied to people, and it’s more natural to use it as a compliment for young women. Therefore, “¡Qué bonita!” is an exclamation that you could translate into English like, “How cute!”.

« Linda » (or « preciosa » )

« Lindo/a » is often listed as a synonym for “hermoso/a”, but in daily usage, the word “lindo/a” isn’t that powerful. If you think that a girl is attractive, you can say that she is « linda ». If she is really attractive and you really like her, you would say that she is “hermosa”.

Anyhow, they’re both adequate as Spanish compliments for a girlfriend or romantic interest. They only vary in their level of intensity.

Note that Spanish speakers can say that a girl is « preciosa », but this doesn’t literally translate as “precious”. In Spanish, « preciosa » is a way of saying that a girl is very cute or pretty, but it doesn’t directly say anything about her value (unless you’re talking about gems instead of people).

« Estás buena » (or « estás rica » )

In this case, the distinction between “ser” and “estar” makes a huge difference.

« Ser bueno/a » is a positive personality trait related to a person’s skills (she/he is good at something) or to their kindness (she/he is nice to others).

« Estar bueno/a » , instead, means ‘being hot or sexy’. If you tell a girl « estás buena », you’re still appreciating her physical beauty, but in a more sexual manner.

« Rico/a » is used in several Spanish-speaking countries as a synonym for ‘sexy’. Again, « estás rica » would mean that she has sex appeal.

Depending on the occasion, this might sound a little blunt in Spanish, especially if you don’t know the girl that much, so make sure that this is what you want to tell her before you choose your words.

Spanish compliments for a man

In the Spanish-speaking world, women also tend to compliment men due to their looks or their sex appeal, especially if there is a romantic or sexual interest. So ellas can also say “estás bueno”, “estás guapo”, “¡qué bello!”, “te ves muy bien” (“you look very good”), etc.

There are no Spanish compliments that are 100% for a man. All you have to do is change the gender of the praising word that you’re going to use (remember that Spanish is a gendered language).

But let’s say that your man is wearing a nice suit. In this case, you can tell him that he looks “elegante”, which means elegant. A slender and refined young man can be called a “buen mozo”.

Then, there are regional adjectives like “fachero” (meaning that he has facha: a good appearance or a good physical presence), which are only used in Argentina and Uruguay. (related article: Rioplatense Spanish )

Other than that, you can compliment specific parts of a man’s (or a woman’s) body or other visual attributes.

Here are some examples of how to do that:

Spanish English
Qué bonita sonrisa What a gorgeous smile
Me gustan tus manos I like your hands
Tienes unos ojos muy bonitos You have very beautiful eyes
Tienes un cuerpo hermoso You have a beautiful body
Bonito cabello Nice hair
Qué bien te queda esa camisa That shirt looks nice on you

Non-romantic compliments

Of course, not all compliments conceal a romantic interest behind them. Spanish speakers compliment each other all the time and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re attracted to each other.

Romantically or not, there are many things that you can admire in a person, apart from their body or their looks. For example, you can admire (and praise) somebody’s personality traits.

Here are some examples of these:

Spanish English
Eres listo/a (or inteligente ) You’re smart
Eres una buena persona You’re a good person
Eres una persona muy interesante You’re a very interesting person
Eres muy simpático You’re very friendly
¡Eres tan ingenioso/a! You’re so witty!
¡Eres tan divertido/a! (or gracioso) You’re so funny!
¡Qué amable! How kind of you!
¡Qué dulce eres! You’re so sweet!

If you would like to compliment the way that somebody does something, you can say phrases like:

Spanish English
Hablas inglés muy bien You speak English very well
La fotografía que tomaste anoche es muy buena The picture that you took last night is very good
Tienes mucho talento You are very talented
Hiciste un gran trabajo You did a great job
Eres un gran actor/una gran actriz You are a great actor/actress
Eres muy bueno/a en esto/eso You are very good at this/that
Me gusta tu acento I like your accent
Tu comida es deliciosa Your food is delicious
Lo que pintaste es espectacular What you painted is spectacular
Eres increíble You are amazing
Deberías hacerlo profesionalmente You should do it professionally
Te admiro I admire you
Estoy orgulloso/a de ti I am proud of you

Spanish terms of endearment

Sometimes, romantic compliments are not enough for Spanish-speaking couples. When they’re already close to each other, they can use terms of endearment, just like English-speaking couples do.

These terms are used to express affection when they address each other in many kinds of conversations.

Just like in English, Spanish terms of endearment are not limited to people with a romantic relationship but also extend to other relationships based on affection. But let’s start with the romantic terms of endearment first.

Romantic terms of endearment in Spanish

Here is a list of romantic terms of endearment in Spanish:

Spanish terms of endearment for friends and family

Spanish terms of endearment for friends and family are very regional. Let’s take the word “dude”. The Spanish version of this word depends heavily on the Spanish-speaking country of the person who is translating. We have:

Mexican parents may say «mijo/mijito» or «mija/mijita» to their sons or daughters. These Spanish terms of endearment are contractions of «mi hijo/a» or «mi hijito/a», meaning “my child” and “my little child” respectively.

They could also call them «chaparrito/a» (meaning “shorty”). But in Argentina, they could call them «nene» or «nena» (literally meaning “kid”).

As for parents, Latin American children from certain countries might call them «viejo» or «vieja» («viejos» if they are referring to both of them). They often start addressing them like this in their teenage years and continue for the rest of their lives.

Contrary to what you may think, «viejo» (meaning “old man”) is not offensive to the father, and «vieja» (meaning “old woman”) is not offensive to the mother —not if it’s their children who are saying it. Don’t you say «vieja» to random ladies, even if you know that they have children!

What should you say if a Spanish speaker compliments you?

Spanish speakers do not say “thank you” when they get addressed with a term of endearment, but as in the English-speaking world, it’s always appropriate to say “thank you” when you receive a compliment.

“Thank you” in Spanish is «gracias», but you can also say «muchas gracias» (thank you very much) or «muchísimas gracias» (“thank you very much” with a higher level of intensity — for those cases in which you’re really thankful).

Plus, you can compliment the person back if you say «Gracias, tú también eres muy…» (“Thanks, you’re very (...), too”).

Here are some additional phrases to express thankfulness in Spanish:

Spanish English
Gracias por el cumplido Thanks for the compliment
Gracias por el halago Thanks for the praise
Gracias por tu amabilidad Thanks for your kindness
Gracias, eres muy dulce Thanks, you are so sweet

There are many contexts in which to use Spanish compliments. Perhaps the next time you write an email in Spanish you might include some.