As I've understood it, in Spanish there's a difference between using amar for people and encantar for things. Is there a similar difference in Latin?

This page describes the difference: https://spanishskulduggery.tumblr.com/post/146287986437/whats-the-difference-between-encantar-and-amar

Excerpt from page above:

What's the difference between encantar and amar? I'm never sure which one to use when talking about a person you love versus a book or movie you love.

querer and amar are more typically used for people, and adorar or gustar/encantar is used for things

Using amar with things feels really flamboyant like you can LOVE to do things like amo leer but that’s much stronger than me encanta leer “I love to read”

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    Welcome to the site! Please consider summarizing the linked page here in your question. I will not follow an external link to understand what a question is about, and many others will have similar reservations.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


The Latin word amare, which is of course the root of Spanish "amar," can be freely used both of people and things. When talking about people, it can refer to romantic love, as in the famous line:

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus

(Catullus, Carmen 5)

Or it can just refer to general affection, or inclination towards a person. In that meaning it is found in Cicero's letters, for example: Metellus est consul egregius et nos amat (Ad Atticum 1,18). It is often quite bland, and has an additional meaning "to be indebted to someone." That is also the source of the well-known interjection amabo te (please), which therefore does not mean "I shall love you," but in fact "I shall be obliged to you."

When talking about things, it can refer to abstract concepts (amo verecundiam, Cicero Ad fam. 9,22; prout ipse amabat litteras, filium erudivit, Nepos Atticus). It is not that easy to find (classical) examples for amare being used in connection with concrete things, although I think they must exist. However, one of my favourite Latin proverbs (almost certainly Neo-Latin) is: Feles amat pisces, sed aquas intrare recusat.

Amare mainly competes with diligere. The difference is that amare stands for passionate and irrational love or affection, whereas diligere for love resulting from holding someone or something in high esteem; however, this is just a tendency, and diligere is on occasion used for sensual love as well.

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    Another one to add to your list: si me amas does not mean "if you love me," but "if you are inclined / if you see me as a friend" or something else in one of those general areas. But Cicero was not batting his eyes at Atticus when writing thus!
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 2:31

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