Do you really know how to express emotions in Spanish? Feelings and emotions are a huge part of our everyday lives. At any point in time, you’re probably feeling something: tired, hungry, ecstatic, bored. Being able to use the appropriate Spanish vocabulary to talk about the feelings and emotions you are experiencing will help you connect with people on a deeper level, express yourself more accurately, and become more familiar with the language.

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But First: What Are the Differences Between Emotions and Feelings in Spanish?

Emotions and feelings are very similar, but they’re not quite the same.

Emotions are larger and more ambiguous than feelings; they can cause changes in both our mental and physical state, and they’re typically more intense than feelings. Feelings are based more on logic and reasoning and are more fleeting than emotions. Feelings can even be classified as one part of an emotion.

But don’t worry—whether or not you want to describe an emotion, a feeling, or both in Spanish, you’ve come to the right place!

Just like in English, there’s more than one way to express emotions and feelings in Spanish. There are several common verbs of emotions in Spanish.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the most common constructions that are used to express feelings and emotions in Spanish.


Emotions in Spanish: Estar + Adjective

In Spanish, the verb estar, which means “to be”, is often used to express feelings.

The formula we use to talk about feelings in Spanish is estar + adjective.

Make sure that the adjective agrees with the subject in gender and number! If the subject is plural, the adjective must be plural. If the subject is feminine, the adjective must be feminine.

Here are some examples:

  • Estoy cansado. (singular, masculine subject)
  • Está aburrida. (singular, feminine subject)
  • Están orgullosos. (plural, masculine subject)

(Some adjectives don’t need to be adjusted for gender, like: feliz, triste.)

⚠️ ¡Ojo! Be careful not to use ser when you want to express feelings in Spanish.

Although ser also means “to be”, it’s used to refer to unchanging characteristics—not more fleeting concepts like feelings and emotions. In fact, using ser instead of estar often changes the entire meaning of the sentence:

  • Estoy aburrido. (I’m bored.)
  • Soy aburrido. (I’m boring.)

Here’s a big list of emotions in Spanish to help you out:



Sentir and Sentirse

Both sentir and sentirse can be translated as “to feel” in English, which makes it a handy verb for talking about feelings and emotions. But they each have a subtly different meaning: you typically use sentir to talk about what you feel, and sentirse to talk about how you feel.

Another way of thinking about this is that sentir is usually used with nouns (jealousy, happiness, boredom) while sentirse is usually used with adverbs and adjectives (jealous, happy, bored).

Here are a couple of examples to help you make sense of this:

  • Siento mucha alegría al ver el sol depués de un invierno largo. (I feel so happy to see the sun after a long winter.)
  • Me siento feliz porque he comprado un libro nuevo. (I’m happy because I bought a new book.)

When you want to ask someone how they feel, you’d use the verb sentirse.

  • ¿Cómo te sientes? (How do you feel?)
  • ¿Cómo se siente (usted)? (How do you feel?) (formal)


Tener + Noun

Sometimes, the construction tener + noun is used to talk about feelings and emotions in Spanish.

Unlike the construction estar + adjective, the noun does not need to agree with the subject. In other words, you don’t change the ending of the noun to –o or -a. The only thing you change in this construction is the conjugation of tener to agree with the subject.

Here are some other examples of this construction:

  • Tener celos (to be jealous)
    • Tiene celos de su amiga. (She’s jealous of her friend.)
  • Tener calma (to be calm)
    • Todos tienen calma. (Everyone is calm.)
  • Tener esperanza (to be hopeful)
    • Tenemos la esperanza de que regresará nuestra serie favorita. (We’re hopeful that our favorite show will come back.)
  • Tener vergüenza (to be embarrassed)
    • Cuando tropecé, tuve vergüenza. (When I tripped, I was embarrassed.)


Poner and Dar

In English, we often say that something “makes” us feel a certain way.

For example: “Going to concerts makes me nervous”.

We can think of these as feelings that are “given” to us. To express these “given” feelings in Spanish, use the verb poner with a reflexive construction OR the verb dar.

Common dar phrases that express feeling and emotion:

  • Dar miedo (to “give” fear)
    • Me da miedo conducir por la noche. (It scares me to drive at night.)
  • Dar vergüenza (to “give” shame or embarrassment)
    • Nos da vergüenza cantar en un escenario. (It makes us embarrassed to sing on stage.)
  • Dar asco (to “give” disgust)
    • Las cucarachas me dan asco. (Cockroaches disgust me.)
  • Dar igual/lo mismo (it makes no difference)
    • Me da igual si vamos al cine ahora o luego. (It doesn’t matter to me if we go to the movies now or later.)

Common phrases with poner that express feeling and emotion:

  • Ponerse nervioso (to make nervous)
    • Ir a conciertos me pone nervioso. (Going to concerts makes me nervous.)
  • Poner triste (to get sad)
    • Me pongo triste cuando mis amigas salen sin mí. (It makes me sad when my friends go out without me.)


Emotions in Spanish using the Subjunctive

Using the subjunctive to express emotion is pretty advanced, so if you’re a beginner Spanish learner, don’t worry if you can’t wrap your head around this one quite yet.

The subjunctive is used to express opinions, desires, wishes, denial, and disagreement (among other things), so it’s often used to express feelings and emotions in Spanish.

Here are some examples:

  • Espero que te guste. (I hope you like it.)
  • Quiero que seas feliz. (I want you to be happy.)
  • Espero que todos estén bien. (I hope everyone is relieved.)
  • Me molesta que nunca me llames. (It bothers me that you never call me).

Spanish is an expressive language, with tons of ways to communicate how you’re feeling. Now, when you’re ready to share your emotions and feelings, you know what to say!


Next Steps

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