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"aimer bien", "aimer" and "adorer"

  • 1855

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"
August 23, 2013



The problem is that Duo seems unable to make up its mind, sometimes it refuses J'aime bien, and sometimes it demands it, I find it impossible to know which is required. That said, your examples are brilliant and greatly help in a real life situation! You have solved a problem that I've had for a long time. Many thanks, have a lingot.


Well, don't you feel there are many other ways to say you love or like somebody or something in French? What about: J'aime beaucoup. J'aime assez. J'aime vraiment. J'aime un peu. J'aime passionnément. J'aime à la folie. J'aime totalement…

Many adverbs can change the basic meaning of the French verb "aimer."

There are less possibilities with "adorer" J'adore absolument (ex: J'adore absolument ce qu'il fait) J'adore vraiment (ex. J'adore vraiment la musique)

There are also some interesting phrases to notice: Je suis fou de (Ex: Depuis que je l'ai vue,je suis fou d'elle.) Je suis passionné de (Ex. Je suis passionné de littérature américaine) Je craque pour (familier) (Ex. Je craque pour cette fille, elle est vraiment incroyable!)

Let's not forget body language. Word stress, a large smile, or a shrug can totally change the meaning of a word or a phrase.

And, last but not least, let's not forget figures of speech. I think especially to the understatement and to the overstatement. Example of overstatement: Question: Tu as aimé ma tarte aux pommes? Answer: J'ai adoré ! (With a big smile!)

Example of understatement: Question: Tu es amoureux d'elle? Answer: (With a shrug) Je l'aime bien.


I would add a precision: I would only say the sentence "J'aime cette fille" about my girlfriend and if I speak about a friend I'll use "J'aime bien cette fille" or "J'adore cette fille" (if I really really like her as a good friend).


So, you mean that in both directions? It is only your girlfriend about whom you would say that sentence and it is this expression (of those above) only, that you would use when talking about your girlfriend?

Just to be safe ...


Well, first, if I'm talking about my girlfriend I'll probably not say "cette fille" but call her by her name ;) Nevertheless :

  • if I speak about a friend : "J'aime bien cette fille" < "J'adore cette fille"
  • if I speak about my girlfriend : "J'aime ma copine" / "J'adore ma copine". But in the particular case of the boy/girlfriend, there's no the comparison thing for me. "J'aime ma copine" = as lover & "J'adore ma copine" as friend (also).


Where would 'I quite like' fit into this discussion? It could mean 'I like a lot' or 'I like somewhat' depending on your background. In the States, 'quite' is normally used to temper the strength of the emotion, in the sense that I don't want to commit myself. 'I quite like their music' would mean that yes, it's OK but I I'm not entirely sure. In the UK on the other hand, 'I quite like ...' is often used to mean that I like it a lot. I translated 'j'aime bien' as 'I quite like, which could actually mean either, and gets me off the hook from just translating as 'j'aime'.

  • 1855

"I quite like their music" translates to:

  • J'aime assez leur musique.
  • J'aime plutôt leur musique.
  • J'apprécie plutôt leur musique.


That's funny! My experience with 'quite' has been the opposite! In your above examples, I would switch the locations. (Another way to say it would be that--in my experience--Americans use 'quite' more like 'very' and Brits use it more like 'pretty.') But of course, this has little to do with French!


not exactly correct: in general, j'aime = i like, j'aime bien = i really like (or i like a lot) and j'adore = i love but when expressing romantic feelings one would actually say j'aime. How poetic: we use the least to express the most (called a "litote"in stylistic) and that's probably why French is (supposed to be) the language of love.


"aimer bien" is a tricky one.
"bien" is about quality (or manner), not intensity, and I think that why the strength of "aimer bien" compared to "aimer" is not so clear and depends of the situation. For example there is no problem with "aimer beaucoup" which is stronger than "aimer" because "beaucoup" is about quantity/intensity.

Once more I fear that there is no general rule that applies to all cases...
But still a first rule (no about "aimer bien") : "aimer" < "aimer beaucoup" < "adorer".
Now the "aimer bien" case.. Well first partial rules :

  • if "aimer" as the meaning of "to love" then adding "bien" will change the meaning to like. So it's not exactly that it's less intensive, only that it's a different type of affection.attachment;
  • "aimer bien" + infinitive verb "aimer" + infinitive verb : "J'aime bien être ici" "J'aime être ici".

Ouf... Remy's examples are correct! :)

After that... it's really subtle and may be depend on the interpretation of each one/on regionalism ? For me, if there is no special intonation or context, I have this extra rule : If it's about something general, "bien" reduces the intensity also : "J'aime bien les pulls écarlate" "J'aime les pulls écarlate".

If anyone find some "official" statement (like an Académie Française remark) about this, I'll be happy to have it, even more if it says I'm wrong! ;)


Re "For example there is no problem with "aimer beaucoup" which is stronger than "aimer" because "beaucoup" is about quantity/intensity."

Maybe different French people think of this in a different way?

AucunLien: http://www.duolingo.com/#/comment/1258671

  • Using aimer with a person as an object will almost always be understood as in romantically, so you add an adverb to make the distinction. Even 'beaucoup' actually tames the emotion in that case :)

Avistew: http://www.duolingo.com/#comment/523079

  • It is a case of "aimer" being considered something absolute. As a result, anything you use to qualify it can only weaken it, because it's less pure. So even "Je t'aime beaucoup" (I like you a lot) would actually be less strong than "Je t'aime" (I love you).


I quite agree with them. ;) When love goes for a romantic relationship, it becomes really tricky to add something to aimer. ;)


does French have any usage to describe "I love you so much." / "I do love you."?


Not sure about "I love you so much" but you might be looking for "aimer à la folie" => "to be madly in love".

So "Je t'aime à la folie" would translate as "I love you madly".

Nowadays, that comes across a bit corny in English, but I think (just an impression, could be wrong) a lot less so in French.


je t'aime tellement est une traduction possible


The irony of 'bien' being lesser than without it. InEnglish, it'll be the exact opposite.


I though that "J'aime bien" means I really like.... Is this incorrect?

  • 1855

Yes, it is. "Really like" translates to "aimer vraiment" (or "aimer beaucoup").

Ex: "I really like this music." translates to "J'aime vraiment cette musique"


No you should know that " aimer " alone is always the strongest and generally include some romantic feelings, Good luck


In the Duolingo lesson that brought me here, I was told that "Le peuple aime la liberté" cannot be translated "The people love freedom," but has to be "The people like freedom." I would love to hear whether the French speakers in this thread agree with that. Can "The people love freedom" be rendered only as "Le peuple adore la liberté"?


adorer: to worship rendre un culte à


Which one is stronger, aimer or adorer?


Thanks so much, Remy and Jrikhal for very useful examples and discussion, this really makes it clear.


Just as an example, to say I don't like my sister, would I say je n'aime pas bien ma sœur? Would je n'aime pas ma sœur (without the bien) also insinuate I don't love her?


I think the latter has a stronger sense than the former


Whereas I would say that the former tells us that you don't like her, but the latter tells us that you do not love her, but leaves the question of whether you like her unanswered.

Just to complicate matters, I would say that it's possible to dislike one of your sisters, yet still love her, because she's family!

So I guess the former leaves the question of whether you love your sister unanswered, which may or may not have been your intention.


It can also mean, I enjoy this! or I like this!, etc.


Also - I was corrected today and the answer was given as ‘the people likes freedom’ Come on guys at least get the english correct it is the people like - people is a singular collective nous and the verb should agree. How long is this error going to sit there?


Thank you for this excellent explanation!

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