How to say I love you in French? Learn nuances of love in French, from friendship to romantic love, French love expressions + avoid cultural misunderstandings.
First, let’s see the typical translation for “I love you” in French.
1 – How To Say “I Love” You In French?
The typical translation for “I love you” is “je t’aime”.
Like it is often the case in French, the pronunciation of “I love you” will change slightly depending on whether you are saying “je t’aime” in a very enunciated manner, or just saying “je t’aime” casually, like you would when speaking in a relaxed environment.
So “I love you in French” is “je t’aime”. It’s not false, but it’s far from being complete.
I love You In English
In English, the verb “to love” is confusing because it expresses a variety of feelings. You can say “I love you” to someone you are in love with, but also to your parents, your pet, or even to a friend to express friendship.
I love You In French
I love you in French has two standard translation:
- Je t’aime (enunciated) – je t’aime (modern French pronunciation)
- Je vous aime (enunciated) – je vous aime (modern French pronunciation)
Note how the pronunciation changes in everyday spoken French. I invite you to follow the link to read my article if you’d like to know more about the way French is really spoken today… But I digress.
When talking to one person, say “je t’aime”. The “t'” stands for the direct object pronoun “te” which refers to the “tu” – you, familiar form.
When talking to several persons (like your parents), or someone you are being formal with (which is a bit unlikely when you are declaring your love, but not impossible – more about tu versus vous you in French), you need to use the “vous” form: to say “I love you”, you then say:”je vous aime”.
Furthermore, in France, it is not common to say “je t’aime” to a friend. You’d need to add an adverb to keep it on a friendship level: “je t’aime beaucoup, je t’aime bien…” More about this later in this article.
You could say “je t’aime” to a member of your very close family, such as your child, a sibling, or your parents, or even a pet, but usually, “je t’aime” translates as “I am in love with you”, not just “I love you”.
2 – How To Answer I Love You In French?
The typical answer to I love you in French is “moi aussi“: me too.
Hopefully, this is as simple as that.
If you don’t share the love feeling, it’s a bit more complicated… See below in the paragraph “I like you versus I love you in French”.
3 – Different Ways To Say I Love You In French
So we’ve seen that the common way to say I love you in French is either “je t’aime” or “Je vous aime”. But let’s see how to nuance I love you.
All the audio recordings will feature modern spoken French pronunciation.
- Je t’aime de tout mon coeur – I love you with all my heart
- Je suis amoureux/amoureuse de toi – I’m in love with you
- Je t’aime passionnément – I love you with passion
- Je t’aime à la folie – I’m crazy about you
- Tu es l’amour de ma vie – you are the love of my life
- Tu es mon grand amour – you’re my biggest love
- J’ai eu le coup de foudre pour toi – it was love at first sight
- Je te kiffe – I love you / I fancy you using actually an Arabic term that is nowadays quite commonly used in modern spoken French, especially by younger people.
- JTM – pronouncing it like the letters [jé té aim] – comes from texting in French and popular among young French people and teens.
4 – Alternative Ways To Say I Love You
Sometimes, you have strong feelings about someone, but you’re note quite ready to drop the L bomb! Although we’ll see below that it’s not as big a deal in France than it is other countries, you may need alternative to I love you in French.
I’m going to give you these expressions in the “tu” form since nowadays, it’s quite likely you’d say “tu” to someone you’re in love with.
- Tu me plais (beaucoup / énormément) – I fancy you, I’m fond of you
- Je te kiffe – I love you / I fancy you using actually an Arabic term that is nowadays quite commonly used in modern spoken French, especially by younger people.
- J’en pince pour toi – I have a crush on you
- Je suis fou/folle de toi – I’m crazy about you
- Je suis dingue de toi – I’m crazy about you (a bit more colloquial)
- Je suis épris(e) de toi – I’m taken by you (quite formal)
- Tu m’as tapé dans l’oeil – you made quite an impression on me
- Je suis morgane de toi – pretty poetic slang – I’m crazy about you. French singer Renaud made this expression quite popular.
- Je ne peux pas vivre sans toi – I can’t live without you
- Je brûle pour toi – I’m burning (with love) for you
- Mon coeur s’enflamme en pensant à toi – my heart turns to flame when I think of you
- Je t’adore – I adore you – very used, a very good alternative to not say “I love you” in French…
- Je suis à toi – I’m yours. Why did I enunciate this one? Well, a “glided” pronunciation didn’t sound good to me here. So I record what I would say.
- Tu es tout pour moi – you’re everything for me. Same remark.
Of course, you could always find more ways of expressing your love / attraction in French, but I listed here the most common and relevant in today’s world expressions. “Je t’ai dans la peau” – I got you under my skin for example is an old-fashioned expression. It would sound silly if you were to use it seriously nowadays.
That’s why you have to be careful with articles with lists of expressions: without the right context, you could be making a big faux pas! This is why I highly recommend learning French in context: my French audiobook learning method is illustrated with an ongoing novel, entirely recorded in French (featuring both enunciated and modern spoken French pronunciations), and follows the Parisian life of Mary and her friends from their teen years to their forties… It includes young romances and life-long love stories!
5 – How To Express Your Love In French
There are many cute love nicknames in French. Follow the link to my article with audio for a longer list, but here are some French love names that work for both men and women.
- Mon amour – my love
- Mon ange – my angel
- Mon trésor – my treasure
- Mon coeur – my heart
- Mon canard – my duck – yes, I know… wait, it gets worse…
- Mon chou – my sweet bun (un chou à la crème is a cream filled puff pastry) – “mon petit chou” is also quite common
- Mon chouchou – comes from “mon chou”
- Doudou – no literal translation – it sounds very bad in English but we use it a lot in French! The origine is Creole French and it means sweety, darling…
- Mon lapin – my rabbit
- Mon poussin – my chick
Now, words have their limits. The best way to express you love in French may be in loving gestures, and thoughtful acts, such as being encouraging, being there for your loved one, checking up on him/her regularly, sending texts… of course, the occasional bouquet of flower is also appreciated!
6 – How To say I Like You Versus I Love You In French
Let’s compare how to say I like you versus I love you in French: how to differentiate friendship from romantic love.
In both cases, we are going to use the verb “aimer”.
- J’aime Paul – I am in love with Paul (love)
- J’aime beaucoup Paul – I like Paul a lot (friendship)
The difference between like and love? the adverb “beaucoup” !
I understand this is really weird for a student of French: “beaucoup” usually makes the verb stronger. And one can argue that to be in love is stronger than to like as a friend…
Yet French is weird this way. Add an adverb to the verb “aimer” and you’re staying in the friend zone!
So depending on the context of course, saying to someone:
- Je t’aime bien
- Je t’aime beaucoup
- Je t’aime énormément
- Je t’aime de tout mon coeur (with all my heart)
could still mean the person is fond of you, but as a friend…
Many French love songs and movies have a dialogue along these lines:
- Est-ce que tu m’aimes ?
Are you in love with me ?
- Euh…. je t’aime beaucoup…
Well…I like you a lot…
Or to quote the song from Zazie, “Chanson d’ami” from the album “Made in Love”:
Je ne t’aime pas : je t’aime bien
I am not in love with you: I like you
7 – S/he Loves Me, S/he Loves Me Not In French 🌼
Listen to my daughter Leyla when she was 4 years old telling the French version of “s/he loves me, s/he loves me not”, a child’s game where you pick up the petals of a flower (usually a daisy).
The French game goes:
Il/elle m’aime un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie… pas du tout!
S/he loves me a bit, a lot, with passion, s/he’s crazy about me… s/he doesn’t love me at all!
A – French Love Poem
Ma main est une fleur
Mes doigts sont les cinq pétales
Dis moi jolie petite fleur
Est-ce que ma maman
M’aime de tout son coeur ?
Elle m’aime un peu, beaucoup,
Passionnément, à la folie,
Pas du tout.
Pas du tout ??
Vilaine petite fleur !
Je sais que ma maman
M’aime de tout son coeur !
Note: Leyla says: “une main est une fleur” instead of “ma main”… little mistake.
Then she says “mes doigts Y (for “ils”) sont les cinq pétales” – that’s common spoken French for you!
B – English Translation of the French Love Poem
My hand is a flower
My fingers are the five petals
Tell me pretty flower
Does my Mom love me with all her heart ?
She loves me a little, a lot,
Not at all.
Not at all ??
Naughty little flower!
I know my mom
Loves me with all her heart!
Awwwwwhhhh. my heart melts each time I watch this video… Moi aussi je t’aime de tout mon coeur ma Leylounette chérie !
Now let’s see with whom it’s OK to say “I love you” in French.
8 – Is It OK To Say I Love My Pet in French?
You can use aimer without an adverb with your immediate family (parents, siblings, children, pets) to say that you love them (not that you are in love with them), but NEVER with your friends.
People would understand if you said “j’aime mon frère” that you love your brother, but are not in love with him.
However, if you said of your friend Anne “j’aime Paul”, she would think that you are in love with Paul.
Use “j’adore Paul, j’aime beaucoup Paul” as explained above.
9 – How To Translate To Be In Love In French?
If you really wanted to be clear and express you are in love with someone, you could use the expression: “être amoureux/amoureuse de + name” (careful, not “être en amour” which they use in Canada, but not in France).
J’aime beaucoup Paul, mais je ne suis pas amoureuse de lui.
I like Paul a lot, but I’m not in love with him.
It’s a bit redundant, but it’s very clear :-)
10 – Nuancing Friendship In French
Let’s see how to nuance friendship feelings in French, from total dislike to great friendship, keeping it all on a friendship level.
Let’s be clear: we are talking about friendship here, not romantic love, not being in love!
- Je déteste Paul – I hate Paul
- Je n’aime pas Paul – I don’t like Paul
- Je n’aime pas beaucoup Paul – I don’t like Paul much
- J’aime assez Paul – I kind of like Paul – he is Ok with me – it’s rather positive
- J’aime bien Paul – I like Paul – this is the one you need to memorize to say “like” for friendship
- J’aime beaucoup Paul – I really like Paul, I’m fond of him – as a friend.
- J’adore Paul – I loooooove Paul (but still as a friend)
11 – To Like Something
To talk about liking/ enjoying/ loving things we also use the verb “aimer”.
J’aime le chocolat.
I like / love / enjoy chocolate.
12 – J’aime ça ≠ Je l’aime
If someone asks “est-ce que vous aimez le vin?” (do you like wine in general), you cannot answer “oui je l’aime”.
You have to say “oui, j’aime ça”.
When talking about things in general, either repeat the thing in your answer, or use “ça”.
You may use an adverb to modify your verb, it’s more eloquent.
- Est-ce que tu aimes le vin ? (wine in general)
- Oui, j’aime beaucoup le vin.
- Or oui, j’aime beaucoup ça.
But you cannot replace “le vin” in its general value by a direct object pronoun like le or les. I don’t know why…
When talking about a precise thing, it’s OK to use a direct object pronoun.
And much more common to answer with an adverb to modify aimer.
- Est-ce que tu aimes ce vin rouge ? (this red wine = a particular one)
- Oui, je l’aime beaucoup.
I would not say “oui, je l’aime”. Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t sound good to my ear. I would use an adverb in my answer.
I am sorry I cannot be more clear about a rule… but I don’t think there is a rule! I believe this is just an evolution of the language and falls under expressions more than grammatical rules.
13 – Use French Adverbs To Nuance “Aimer”
When someone asks you if you like something/someone, it’s customary to offer a nuance in your answer and use an adverb.
- Est-ce que tu aimes le vin ?
- Oui, j’aime le vin… Is a little flat… childish almost.
We’d use “bien, beaucoup…” to nuance the answer:
- Oui, j’aime bien/ beaucoup le vin (or ça).
Except when you are talking about being in love with someone, as discussed above… Then you need to use “aimer” by itself, without any adverb.
14 – The Crazy French Word For Love🤪
The French word for love is l’amour.
But what is so weird about love in French is that it is masculine in the singular, and feminine in the plural !!!
- Un grand amour = a big love
- Des amours tumultueuses = difficult love
Love is definitely crazy!
15 – Love In French – Watch Out For The Pronunciation
You need to watch your pronunciation for “l’amour”, love in French. French students often mistake:
Quite a trap!
16 – French Love Expressions
There are many expressions with the word love in French:
- faire l’amour – to make love.
- le grand amour – true love
- un amour interdit – forbidden love
- un premier amour – first love
- un amour de jeunesse – first love, love when you where young
- une histoire d’amour – a love story, a love affair
- un philtre d’amour – love potion
- filer le parfait amour – to be happily in love
- l’amour-propre – self esteem
- L’amour rend aveugle – love is bling
- Vivre d’amour et d’eau fraîche – to live on love alone
17 – French Love Vocabulary
- L’amour – love
- L’amitié – friendship
- Je t’aime – I love you (using tu)
- Je vous aime – I am in love with you (using vous)
- Je l’aime – I am in love with him/her
- Je suis amoureux / amoureuse de toi, lui, elle, vous… – I am in love with you, him, her, you
- Tomber Amoureux / amoureuse – to fall in love (not tomber en amour which is used in Canadian French but not in France)
- Est-ce que tu veux sortir avec moi – would you like to go out with me ?
- Est-ce que tu veux (bien) m’épouser – would you marry me? The bien here is optional, and means “are you willing to marry me”, but it’s what we traditionally say.
- To kiss – embrasser, s’embrasser. WATCH OUT !!! Not “baiser”… I’m sorry to be vulgar but you need to be aware that “un baiser” is fine, it’ a kiss, but “baiser” as a verb nowadays means to f..k.
- A kiss – un baiser, un bisou – I wrote a whole article on the subject of French kisses.
- Les fiançailles – engagement
- Se fiancer – to get engaged
- Un fiancé, une fiancée – someone you are engaged to. But sometimes used to say someone you are just dating.
- Le mariage – marriage, wedding (only one R in French)
- Se marier avec quelqu’un – to get married with someone
- Épouser quelqu’un – to marry someone
- Un marié – a groom
- Une mariée – a bride
- Un mari / un époux – a husband
Watch out between un marié, une mariée, un mari…
- Une femme (pronounced “fam”) / une épouse – a wife
- Un/ une partenaire – a partner. Mostly used for gay couples in French.
- Un compagnon / une compagne – a partner as used in British English : someone you live with but you are not necessarily married to.
- Un amoureux / une amoureuse – a sweetheart
- Un petit-ami/ un petit-copain – a boyfriend
- Une petite-amie / une petite-copine – a girlfriend
- Watch out! “un amant” means a lover, as in someone you have sexual relations with or you are cheating on your spouse with. So not to be used lightly in French.
- Mon chéri, ma chérie, mon amour… there are plenty of French terms of endearments: I suggest you read (and listen) to my article about the French love nicknames with audio.
- Joyeuse Saint Valentin – happy Valentine’s day.
- Tu veux être mon valentin / ma valentine ? Would you be my valentine?
18 – Valentine’s Day In France
Valentine’s day in France is only for people who are romantically in love. In the US, it’s common for kids to give valentines to their friends, their teachers… It’s not the case in France.
Except from that, Valentine’s Day in France is pretty much about the same thing: offering flowers or chocolate, going out in a romantic restaurant. It’s a day to show your romantic love and appreciation for your loved one.
19 – Saying I love You In France – Not Such A Big Deal
In many American sitcoms, saying I love you seems to be a very, very big deal. A milestone in the relationship.
It doesn’t seem to be quite strong a deal in France. Of course, saying I love you is never something you say lightly, but it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal. According to France 2, 8% of French people would be ready to say “I love you” on the first day!! Yet, France 2 also says many French feel comfortable saying “I love you” within two months of the relationship (Frenchmen: 88 days, Frenchwomen 134 days!)
20 – What About Dating In France ?
Well, this was a big shock to me when I arrived in the US. I had no idea what “dating” meant.
I understood of course a man and a woman could be interested in each other in a romantic way, let me reassure you.
But I was not aware that accepting to go out to dinner with a man alone gave the signal that I was possibly romantically interested in him.
Nor did I know about this first date, second date and third date business.
In France, it’s very common for a girl to go out to dinner with a male friend. Even for a married woman to go out with a male friend who is single.
I wrote a whole article about dating in France and the culture around it. I invite you to follow the link to read it.
21 – How To Say “Would You Like” In French
Finally, to ask the question “would you like to…” we don’t use the verb “aimer”, but the verb “vouloir – to want”.
It’s yet another example of why translating doesn’t work.
Read my blog post about using “vouloir” and making invitations in French.
Voilà, I hope this lesson clarified things about the use of the verb “aimer” and how to say I love you in French.
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