Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 37): le verbe – aimer (l’usage)


One of the most common French verbs is aimer. It is a regular -ER verb, requires avoir in the compound sentences, and can mean “to like” or “to love.”

Aimer means “to like” or “to love” when followed by a noun or infinitive.

J’aime Paris. I love Paris.
Il aime les chats. He likes cats.
Aimes-tu voyager? Do you like to travel?

When aimer is followed by a person, it means “to love” or “to be in love with.” You can use aimer to mean simply “love” with your family, but with other people, it means “in love,” so if that’s not what you mean, you will need to qualify it.

J’aime Luc (mon frère). I love Luc (my brother).
Il aime Chantal. He’s in love with Chantal.
Je t’aime! I love you!

To say that you “like” or are “fond of” someone, qualify aimer with an adverb such as assez, bien, or beaucoup. These adverbs make aimer less strong, so they can be used with friends rather than family and lovers.

J’aime assez Paul. I kind of like Paul.
J’aime bien Anna. I like Anna.
J’aime beaucoup Étienne. I really like Étienne.
Je t’aime bien. I like you.

The direct object pronouns le, la, and les can only be used with aimer when they refer to people.

Je l’aime! I love him/her!
Je l’aime bien. I like him/her.

When the direct object means “it” (replacing a non-human noun or a verb) you cannot use a direct object pronoun; you must use the indefinite demonstrative pronoun ça.

Aimes-tu le tennis? Oui, j’aime ça.
Do you like tennis? Yes, I like it.

Nous voyageons beaucoup, nous aimons ça.
We travel a lot, we like it.

Je t’ai écrit un poème – tu aimes ça?
I wrote you a poem – do you like it?

In the conditional, aimer is a polite way to make a request or state a desire.

J’aimerais partir à midi. I would like to leave at noon.
Aimeriez-vous manger avec nous? Would you like to eat with us?

The pronominal verb s’aimer can be reflexive or reciprocal.

Reflexive: to like oneself

Je m’aime en bleu. I like myself (how I look) in blue.
Il ne s’aime pas. He doesn’t like himself (has low self-esteem).

Reciprocal: to be in love, to love one another

Nous nous aimons. We are in love.
Penses-tu qu’ils s’aiment? Do you think they are in love?

Here are some common expressions using aimer:

aimer à la folie – to be madly in love
aimer autant – to be just as happy (with, that), to prefer
aimer mieux – to prefer
Qui aime bien châtie bien (a proverb) – Spare the rod and spoil the child.
Qui m’aime aime mon chien (a proverb) – Love me, love my dog.


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