The comparative constructions is usually "moins...que" so something is "less loved than" in the French rather than "loved less than" in English. The object is placed before the verb, though, so if you think of where the object would be in English (incorrect in French) you have, "J'ai moins aime [them] qu'elle," which follows the structure "moins..que"
I hope that makes sense, and I am not a native speaker. That is how I learned comparatives way back when. We move all our comparative words around in English.
moins is an adverb
In French an adverb usually follows the conjugated verb. Thus, in all compound tenses adverbs are placed right after the auxiliary and just before the past participle.
A compound tense is where an auxiliary is required, such as the passé composé The passé composé is made up of a conjugated form of the auxiliary être [to be] or avoir [to have] + the past participle of the verb.
Tu as bien travaillé. - You worked well.
Elle est vite partie. - She left quickly.
Ils ont beaucoup aimé le film. - They liked the movie a lot.
Quelqu’un a mal fermé la porte. - Someone closed the door badly.
Tu as beaucoup changé.- You have changed a lot.
J'ai déjà entendu cette chanson. - I have already heard that song
If the conjugated verb is in the negative, the adverb follows the negation.
j'ai trop mangé. Je ne vais pas bien dormir. - I ate too much. I am not going to sleep well.
tu n'as pas beaucoup mangé! Juste de la soupe! - you didn't eat too much. Just some soup
However, some longer adverbs ending in -ment may follow the past participle.
Il s’est rasé rapidement. - He shaved quickly.
Elle s’est habillée élégamment. - She dressed elegantly.
@nicholas_ashley, please forgive me for responding. I believe that the question may be more specific. I should have said something months ago when I was starting Duolingo. There are a great number of Americans (a very large percentage), who simply do not know the basic principles of grammar. I have known MANY people who were afraid to ask questions for fear of being judged. I would imagine many people are learning languages as a way of also trying to learn about their own. Duolingo has made one critical error in assuming that it's students would all ready know what they say about following things are: Noun, Verb, Adverb, Adjective, Participle, Tense, etc. etc. Grown people of industry have expressed ignorance of these terms- oh they usually know nouns and verbs are- but many don't. You can show them a sentence and ask them to point to an adjective, and they look like a deer in the headlights. Mocking them, as others sometimes do, does Not remedy the situation. Duolingo Should Have A Level (at the beginning), To Define Each Term. Teach The Student How To Identify Each Term. And Explain Why The Term Is Needed. If you do those things, then I guarantee you that the number of people dropping the course later in, will significantly decrease. I hope enough people, and the right people read this post and can accomplish this positive change. It IS about education, is it not? Perhaps a category for this in Tiny Cards would be a good way to start this?
Kevin, I totally agree that lack of grammar training hinders adults when they learn a second language.
But I also see that Duolingo wants to de-emphasize grammar to some extent. They follow more a naturalistic approach and also a translation approach to language acquisition.
Personally, I find a combination to be helpful. Presently, I'm relying mostly on Duolingo but supplementing with other sources (as well as this forum) to learn lists and rules of French grammar.
More to your point, I think people with little background in even English grammar would do well to study elsewhere for a few days. A site for learning ESL(English as a Second Language) might be useful for them, or even a middle school English textbook.
At any rate, I'm sure you agree, one of the perks of studying a foreign language is that we learn so much about our native tongue.
Finally found this on P.368 of "Foundations of French Syntax":
... the ambiguity of a sentence like (199), and its English counterpart, can be represented as in (200):
(199) Jean admire Jacques plus que Paul
(200) a) Jean admire Jacques plus que (Jean admire) Paul<pre>
b) Jean admire Jacques plus que Paul (admire Jacques)</pre>
In English, the interpretation in (200b) can be made explicit by using the dummy verb do: John admires Jack more than Paul does. However, in French, we must repeat the verb and represent the redundant complement by a pronoun (usually with expletive ne):
(201) Jean admire Jacques plus que Paul ne l'admire
With just the audio, how can you know that the "les" is feminine, so needs the agreement for "aimees"? And how can you know that the "elle" at the end is not "elles"? Not that any of them make easy sense, but I'm just puzzled as to how you're supposed to know these things with so little to go on. . .I know how you feel, xiongnu1987!
The adverb (in this case moins) always comes after the verb. In the case of compound tenses, the adverb comes after the auxilliary verb. This explains it fully: http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa060300.htm
It would be "her" if the meaning was, "I loved them less than I loved her". If the meaning is, "I loved them less than she did", then it should be "she". (Although, in fact, because many Anglophones are a bit fuzzy on subject/object in this situation, most people will actually say, "than she did" to make it clear)
What I don't know is if there is a similar distinction to be made in constructing the French sentence. Anyone?
I was marked wrong for "I loved them less than she". In formal English, the sentence would read: "I loved them less than she (loved them)." Another meaning could be: "I loved them less than (I loved) her." Are there two different ways of expressing these meanings in French?
This rule is explained very well here:
In French, there are 3 main verbs to express fondness for something. "aimer bien", which translates to "like" or "enjoy" ex: "J'aime bien cette fille" = "I like this girl" ex: "J'aime bien être ici" = "I enjoy being here" "aimer", which can either translate to "(really) like", or "love" ex: "J'aime ce tableau" = "I (really) like this painting" ex: "J'aime cette fille" = "I (really) like/love this girl" "adorer", which can either translate to "love" or "adore" ex: "J'adore ce film !" = "I love/adore this movie!" ex: "J'adore cette fille" = "I love/adore this girl"