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.
How To Say “I Love” You In French?
The typical translation for “I love you” is :
- Je t’aime (enunciated) – je t’aime (modern French pronunciation)
I love you using “tu”.
- Je vous aime (enunciated) – je vous aime (modern French pronunciation)
I love you using “vous”. More about tu versus vous you in French
Like it is often the case in French, the pronunciation will change slightly depending on whether you are speaking in a very enunciated manner or using a casual French pronunciation.
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, or a friend to express friendship.
It’s not the case in French.
I love You In French
je t’aime really translates as ‘I am in love with you’.
To keep it on a friendship level, you need to ADD an adverb: “je t’aime beaucoup, je t’aime bien…” I understand it’s counter intuitive but that’s what we do in French!
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.
How To Answer I Love You In French?
The typical answer to I love you in French is “moi aussi“: me too. It’s as simple as that.
Now, here are other phrases to express your love in French.
9 Ways To Say I Love You In French
Let’s see how to nuance I love you.
All the audio recordings below 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.
13 Ways to Avoid I Love You in French
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.
- Tu me plais (beaucoup / énormément) – I fancy you, I’m fond of you
- 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.
You will find longer lists on the internet but watch out… expressions are not timeless… Saying “Je t’ai dans la peau” – ‘I got you under my skin’ for example is not an expression we use seriously today. One can use it to be over-dramatic, or as a joke.
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!
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!
10 Ways To Say My Love In French
There are many cute love nicknames in French. Follow the link to my article with audio for 44 French love nicknames. 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!
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!
Pronunciation of Love In French
You need to watch your pronunciation for “l’amour”, love in French. French students often mistake:
Quite a trap!
11 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
30 French Love Words
- 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?
I Like You ≠ I Love You In French
Now let’s see 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! Add an adverb to the verb “aimer” and you’re staying in the friend zone!
To say you like or love someone as a friend, say:
- Je t’aime bien
- Je t’aime beaucoup
- Je t’aime énormément
- Je t’aime de tout mon coeur (with all my heart)
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
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: Je suis amoureux/amoureuse de toi – I’m in love with you (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.
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!)
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.
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.
To know more about Valentine Day in France, I invite you to read my article.
I’ll end this long article with a video of a love poem said by my daughter.
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!
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!
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 !
Voilà, I hope this lesson clarified things about how to say I love you in French.
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