TNs, Extra: Aimer, aimer bien, adorer, and other appreciation verbs.

It is essential for beginners to learn about the grammar and, even more importantly, the meanings and uses of appreciation verbs. When it comes to feelings, nobody wants to goof-up, be misunderstood, nor hurt feelings or offend sensibilities.


There is one important rule to know about the direct object of such appreciation verbs as aimer, aimer bien, adorer, apprécier, préférer, détester, haïr, respecter, admirer: Whenever the object is a count noun, a mass noun, a concept or a plural noun, the definite articles (le, la, l’, les) are most often used, not to specify the object but to generalize it.

  • J’aime le chocolat. — I like chocolate.
  • Je préfère l’histoire à la fiction. — I prefer history to fiction.
  • Je ne déteste pas les ordinateurs. — I don’t hate computers.
  • Je respecte les personnes âgées. — I respect older people.
  • Je n’aime pas la violence. — I don’t like violence.

These cover statements may also be understood as one-time opinions about specific things, so if the context allows, the definite article “the” can be suitable before the object. Also remember that only indefinite (un, une, des) and partitive (du, de la, de l') articles disappear and are replaced with de in front of the direct object of a negated verb, as in Je n’ai pas d’ordinateur or Je ne mange pas de chocolat.

Another rule is that appreciation verbs can be followed by an infinitive without a preposition or a subordinate clause with a verb in the subjunctive mood.

  • J’adore regarder les oiseaux. — I love watching birds.
  • J’admire que tu sois si patiente. — I admire that you are so patient.

”I love you” is Je t’aime.

To properly express our feelings in French, we have two main verbs: aimer and adorer, which translate to “like” and “love”, depending on the object and other elements of the language, especially adverbs.

When you love someone, you say je t'aime.
When you like someone, you say je t’aime bien.
When you like something, you say j’aime ça or j’aime bien ça.
When you like doing something, you say j'aime faire ça or j'aime bien faire ça.
When you love something, you say j’adore ça.
When you love doing something, you say j'adore faire ça.

Among human beings, l’amour is love and the verb is aimer. This applies to romantic relationships and family bonds, and extends to pets.

  • Cette femme aime sa fille, je le sais. — This woman loves her daughter, I know it.
  • Si tu aimes ton petit chien, nourris-le bien. — If you love your little dog, feed it well.

To clear any doubt, you can also use être amoureux/amoureuse to mean “to be in love”.

  • Je suis amoureux/amoureuse d’elle/de lui. — I am in love with her/him.

If the feeling is not love, the verb aimer needs an adverb like bien or beaucoup to weaken aimer and thereby state that the feeling is not “love” in the romantic sense. However, this does not preclude sincere commitment and affection.

  • J’aime bien notre comptable. — I like our accountant: as coworkers, we get along well.
  • J’aime beaucoup mon ami Fred. — I very much/really like my friend Fred: we are good friends.
  • J’aime énormément mes tantes et mes oncles. — I very much/really like my aunts and uncles.
  • Je t’aime beaucoup. — I like you very much (Not “I love you very much”).

To evidence the difference between aimer and aimer bien when the object is a person, we can quote the song from Zazie, « Chanson d’ami »:

  • Je ne t’aime pas : je t’aime bien.— I am not in love with you: I like you.

When it comes to animals and things or concepts, aimer and aimer bien are not significantly different and several adverbs can be added to better qualify our feeling.

  • J’aime (bien) ton blog. — I like your blog.
  • J’aime vraiment/beaucoup/énormément cette émission. — I really like/like this show a lot/very much.

Adorer for exaggeration

In ancient times, adorer was the verb of choice for gods or idols. Nowadays, using adorer mostly denotes enhancement, magnification or embellishment of an otherwise milder feeling.

  • Ma femme, je l’adore. — I adore my wife.
  • J’adore ta nouvelle cravate ! — I love your new tie!
  • J’ai toujours adoré les fourmis. — I have always loved ants.
  • J’adorais Michael Jackson. — I loved Michael Jackson.
  • Je t’adore quand tu me fais rire. — I love you when you make me laugh.

Other appreciation verbs

Préférer is synonymous with aimer mieux but their constructions are different.

  • Je préfère le vin à la bière. — I prefer wine to beer.
  • J’aime mieux le vin que la bière. — I like wine better than beer.

Détester and hair are synonymous, but due to its somewhat difficult conjugation, haïr has become uncommon. Another synonym of détester is avoir horreur de, which does not imply any fear, unlike the faux-ami “to have a horror of”.

  • Je déteste / Je hais / J’ai horreur des épinards. — I hate spinach.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

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January 21, 2019


very useful. thanks

January 22, 2019

Very useful indeed. Many thanks.

January 24, 2019

I’m not sure how I understand chocolat as a concept noun, a count noun or a plural noun

February 2, 2019

The rule applies to any noun, count nouns and mass nouns as well.

You can like "le chocolat" as a mass thing or "les chocolats" as individual treats.

February 3, 2019


March 15, 2019

Tres utile et pratique. Merci beacoup

March 24, 2019
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