Verbs of Emotion in Spanish

If you are struggling to express your feelings in Spanish, maybe you need to learn more about the most common Spanish verbs used to express emotions and how to use them.

List of Spanish emotional verbs

In Spanish, it’s important to learn the conjugations of each verb in order to use them correctly. Is that emotion part of the present, or does it describe how you felt in the past? Is it an emotion of yours, do you share it with a group of people, or are you talking about anyone else’s feelings?

Take a look at these examples and how the verbs change according to the personal noun and the tense.

Table: List of Spanish emotional verbs
Verb Example
Amar / Encantar
(To love)
Amo (or me encanta) el queso
(I love cheese)
(To hate)
Ella odia eso
(She hates that)
(To thrill)
Se entusiasmaron con mi idea
(They got excited about my idea)
(To enjoy)
Yo disfruto mucho viajar
(I really enjoy traveling)
(To surprise)
Me sorprende tu reacción
(I’m surprised at your reaction)
Arrepentir / Lamentar
(To regret)
Me arrepiento de/Lamento no haber visto esa película
(I regret not watching that movie)
Enojar / Enfadar
(To get mad)
No sé por qué Juan se enojó conmigo
(I don’t know why Juan got mad at me)
(To enrage)
Se enfureció cuando se percató de que le estaban mintiendo
((S)he got enraged when (s)he realized that (s)he was being lied at)
(To bother or to annoy)
Me molestan los ruidos fuertes
(Loud noises bother me / I’m annoyed by loud noises)
(To cheer up / make happy)
Tu padre y yo nos alegramos de que hayas aprobado ese examen
(Your father and I are happy that you passed that test)
(To sadden)
Nos entristece dar esta noticia
(It saddens us to share this news)
(To be afraid)
Paula le teme a la oscuridad
(Paula is afraid of the dark)
(To scare)
Me asusté cuando vi que no había nadie
(I got scared when I saw that nobody was there)
(To like)
A mi madre le gusta tejer
(My mother likes knitting)
(To dislike)
A Raúl le disgusta trabajar los fines de semana
(Raul dislikes working on weekends)
(To embarrass)
Me avergüenza tu actitud
(I’m embarrassed by your attitude)
(To disgust)
Me asquea el pescado crudo
(Raw fish disgusts me)
(To bore)
Su discurso nos aburrió
(We were bored by his/her speech)
(To tire)
A cierta edad, te cansas de ir de fiesta
(At a certain age, you get tired of partying)
(To amuse)
Claudia no se divierte fácilmente
(Claudia is not easily amused)
(To worry)
Me preocupa tu situación
(I’m worried about your situation)
(To envy)
Hace eso porque te envidia
((S)he does that because (s)he envies you)
Calmar / Tranquilizar
(To calm down / soothe / chill out)
Fue un caos, pero nos calmamos enseguida
(It was chaos, but we calmed down right away)

Now, let’s see more Spanish verbs that are not inherently emotional, but can be used to express your emotions in Spanish.

By the end of this article, you will be aware of the different ways to express your feelings in Spanish so that you don’t always rely on the same kind of sentences or structures.

“Ser” and “estar”

Let’s remember the difference between “ser” and “estar”. Although they are both translated as “be”, in Spanish, it’s not the same “ser feliz” than “estar feliz” — even if they both mean “to be happy” in Spanish.

Ser refers to a constant state that is part of yourself. Thus, “ser feliz” refers to being happy in a more general way, not in a particular moment. However, if something great happened to you, you wouldn’t say “soy feliz” but rather “estoy feliz”.

¡Acabo de ganar la lotería! ¡Estoy tan feliz! I’ve just won the lottery! I’m so happy! [right now]
Soy feliz desde que cambié de trabajo I’m happy [on a regular basis] since I’ve changed jobs

Most adjectives derived from Spanish verbs of emotion are used along with the verb “estar” because emotions are temporary.

Table: Adjectives derived from Spanish verbs of emotion
Verb / Adj. Example
Enojarse (to get mad or angry)
Estoy enojado contigo.
(I’m mad at you.)
Sorprenderse (to get surprised)
Estoy sorprendido de que haya pasado esto.
(I’m surprised that this happened.)
Arrepentirse (to regret)
Estoy arrepentido de lo que hice.
(I regret what I did.)
Avergonzarse (to be embarrassed or ashamed)
Estoy avergonzado de lo que hice.
(I’m ashamed of what I did.)
Calmarse (to calm down)
Estoy calmado, a pesar de todo.
(I’m calm, despite everything.)
Asustarse (to get scared)
Estoy asustado por lo que pueda pasar ahora.
(I’m scared of what could happen now.)

You could end all of these phrases with “pero no lo estaré por siempre” (but I won’t be [ashamed, scared, etc.] forever). That statement, though, is implicit in the verb “estar”.

Does this mean that you should always express your feelings with the verb “estar”? Not exactly, it depends on what suits you better or what better reflects what you are actually feeling.

Keep reading.

The verb “tener”

You don’t always need to use an adjective to express your emotions in Spanish because you can say that you have a certain feeling instead.

When you are feeling hungry, in English you would say that you are hungry, but in Spanish you can either say “estoy hambriento” or “tengo hambre” (which literally means “I have [the feeling of] hunger”).

But sometimes, depending on the emotion that you want to express, it sounds more natural to use the verb “tener” than “estar”. There is not much difference between “tengo hambre” y “estoy hambriento”, but for example, Spanish speakers do not really have an adjective to say that they are cold. Therefore, “tengo frío” is the only option that sounds natural.

Something similar happens with heat. The verb “acalorar” (to get hot) exists, but you are more likely to hear “tengo calor” than “estoy acalorado”, at least in some Spanish-speaking areas. There is no difference in terms of correctness, but there might be a difference in terms of usage and how natural it sounds in everyday conversations.

How does the verb “tener” work?

The trick to learn the correct usage of the verb “tener” to express emotions is becoming able to extract the abstract noun related to the emotion —that is, the name of the emotion itself.

As we were saying, in Spanish you can have hunger (hambre), cold (frío), heat (calor). But you can also have fear (miedo), anger (ira or bronca), rancor/hard feelings (rencor), joy (alegría), jealousy (celos), sorrow (pena), tiredness (cansancio), exhaustion (agotamiento), embarrassment (vergüenza), discomfort (molestia or incomodidad), or simply a bad mood (mal humor).

Here are some examples of how you’d use these terms in a sentence.

Table:The verb “tener” vs. the verb “estar” for expressing emotions in Spanish
Using the verb “tener” Using the verb “estar”
Tengo mucha bronca por la forma en que me habló. Translation: I’m very angry about the way (s)he talked to me. (Literally: I have much anger…)
Estoy muy enojado(a) (“embroncado” is not a common word) por la forma en que me habló.
María tiene vergüenza de subir al escenario. Translation: María is embarrassed to go on stage. (Literally: María has embarrassment…).
María está avergonzada de subir al escenario. (Doesn’t sound as natural as “tiene vergüenza” in this case).
No tienen tanto rencor, después de todo. Translation: They don’t have a lot of hard feelings, after all.
No están tan rencorosos, después de todo. (Doesn’t sound as natural; normally, “rencoroso” is used with the verb “ser” to describe a personality trait).
Es mejor que no le hables hoy, tiene un mal humor terrible. Translation:You better don’t talk to him/her today, (s)he has a terribly bad mood.
Es mejor que no le hables hoy, está de mal humor / or malhumorado(a). (“Terrible” does no longer fit in here).
Clara tiene mucha pena por la muerte de su mascota. Translation: Clara is sorrowful due to her pet passing away. (Literally: Clara has a lot of sorrow).
Clara está muy apenada por la muerte de su mascota.
Tu madre tiene miedo de que te pase algo malo. Translation: Your mother is afraid that something bad will happen to you. (Literally: your mother has fear…)
Tu madre está atemorizada de que te pase algo malo
(“Atemorizada” comes from the noun “temor”, which is similar to “miedo”. There is no emotional adjective for “miedo”; “miedoso” is a personality trait, not an emotion)..
Tengo un cansancio tan grande que creo que me dormiré aquí mismo. Translation: I’m so tired I think I’m going to fall asleep right here. (Literally: I have a tiredness so big [as a synonym of intense] that…)
Estoy tan cansado(a) que creo que me dormiré aquí mismo.
(“Grande” does no longer fit).
Carlos tiene celos de Omar. Translation: Carlos is jealous of Omar (Literally: Carlos has jealousy of Omar)
Carlos está celoso de Omar.

The verb “sentir”

This is the first verb in this list that is exclusively related to emotions. It is another alternative to express your feelings directly telling the other person that you feel that way.

You are not cold. You don’t “have cold”. You feel cold. In Spanish: no estás frío, no tienes frío; sientes frío. And what is the difference between these three? There is hardly any. In terms of correctness, there is none.

In terms of usage, it depends on the case. Maybe if you talk about how you feel, it could be viewed as something more personal or intimate. But it really depends on what you are saying.

How do you feel right now?

Me siento feliz I feel happy
Me siento confundido(a) I feel confused
Me siento relajado(a) I feel relaxed
Me siento estresado(a) I feel stressed
Me siento cansado(a) I feel tired

As you can see, the verb “sentir” works similarly to “estar”, given that you could also answer to the previous question with “estoy feliz”, “estoy confundido(a)”, “estoy relajado(a)”, “estoy estresado(a)”, “estoy cansado(a)”...

It’s important to note that the verb “sentir” can also express how you perceive a certain situation. It can also be used to express predictions. For example:

Laura siente que fue ruda contigo. Laura feels/has the feeling that she was rude to you. (Perception)
Siento que estaré bien mañana. I feel/have a feeling that I’ll be fine tomorrow. (Prediction)