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Remember that French is a language per se, not a translation of English. In English, you say "I am hot/warm" and in French you say "j'ai chaud".
After the verb "avoir", "chaud" is a noun (= warmth), so the French say "j'ai chaud" to express their experiencing/feeling warmth.
The same type of phrase is found with other "experiences", constructed with "avoir" + noun (and no article):
- j'ai froid = I am cold
- j'ai faim, j'ai soif = I am hungry, I am thirsty
- j'ai peur (de) = I am afraid (of)
- j'ai confiance = I am trustful/confident
- j'ai honte = I am ashamed
On top of it "je suis chaud(e)" means: "I am enthusiastic".
And the translation for "he is hot" (= sexy) is "il est sexy" (not il est chaud)
I accept that French will never be a literal translation of English, but how are you supposed to learn the language when the conventions appear to change at random? Everything I have learnt so far has told me je suis = I am and J'ai = I have. Of course, I could have used logic to deduce that this sentence was "I am hot", but that doesn't mean I would have understood WHY it was that way.
I find it incredibly dispiriting. Just when I think I am beginning to understand, the rules change.
I may have some errors here but this is what I can think of... j'ai faim --I'm Hungry (I have hunger) j'ai soif -- I'm thirsty ( I have thirst) j'ai peur -- I'm scared ( I have fear) j'ai honte -- I'm ashamed ( I have shame) j'ai sommeil --I am sleepy (I have sleep) j'ai horreur de --I hate ( I have horror ) j'ai chaud -- I am hot (I have hot) j'ai froid -- I am cold ( I have cold) j'ai raison-- I am right (I have reason) j'ai tort-- I am wrong (I have wrong) j'ai vingt ans-- I am twenty years old (I have twenty years) j'ai envie de -- I want (I have envy) j'ai le mal de mer-- I am sea sick (I have sickness of the sea)
Hopefully the progression will help illustrate that this is a rule, just a bit of a confusing one. It is just that in french the way that they are communicating the thought it that they are in a state of (having)+ (this feeling or condition). I think it is not to difficult to see the connection when you look at<pre>
"I have shame" and "I am ashamed" as the same idea. I do not know if there is another way of saying ashamed in french other than to say "I have shame" You just need to open your mind a bit and the connections between verbs become apparent. It is not black and white. I hope this helps!</pre>
The difference is that French addresses them using a different kind of expression, using a noun (some say adverb), not an adjective. Whereas French says "J'ai chaud", the equivalent English expression is "I am hot/warm". English does not say "I have warmth". There are many such expressions using "avoir" in French and "to be" in English.
- J'ai faim = I am hungry (not "I have hunger")
- J'ai vingt ans = I am twenty (years old) (not "I have 20 years")
- J'ai chaud = I am warm/hot (not "I have hot")
Translating to English is more than literally equating the words to another language, but translating from an idiom in one language to the equivalent idiom in the other language.
I know you know this, but for the sake of other readers: when we say the French say "I have hunger", of course they don't say that but they do say "J'ai faim". So pardon me for picking on that point. If we say that "avoir" is always "have" then we are no longer thinking about what the French sentence means. We must first consider what the sentence means (thinking in French, not after trying to figure it out by a word-for-word literal translation to English). It is only then that we can find an appropriate and natural expression in English. English speakers do not say "I have hunger", "I have thirst", "I have twenty years", etc. We say, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I'm twenty years old.
If you say 'je suis chaud' it means 'I am hot' in the sexual sense. Equally, if you say 'je suis froid' it means 'I am cold' as in 'I am frigid.'
Basically if you 'have' something (like cold, hunger, heat, thirst) then it is a temporary thing that can pass. Whereas 'I am' speaks more to a point of character or temperament.
So, this is the same kind of construction as 'I am hungry' - I have hunger. J'ai faim. You wouldn't say 'I am hunger', or 'I am thirst' ('j'ai soif' means something entirely different from 'je suis soif.') I mean you could say that, but you would be stating that you were a metaphysical entity.
Basically, the French just think in a slightly different way about things like hunger and thirst, experiences of the external world. Other languages construct these ideas in the same way - for example, Irish, and other romance languages.
Hope that helps clear it up a bit!
i constantly mess this one up and always forget to use avoir, and all my friends here in the french alps tease me (they say 'je suis chaude' means 'i'm in heat' in the sexual sense. i didn't realize the inverse was true as well with froide. so i'm just realizing that i've been telling everyone all month i'm frigid. yay!
There are a number of expressions that use "avoir" in French but "to be" in English. They are considered to be idiomatic and are not to be translated literally, i.e., you never translate "J'ai chaud" as "I have heat" but "I am warm/hot", "J'ai soif" is not translated as "I have thirst" but "I am thirsty", etc. http://french.about.com/od/expressions/a/avoir.htm Using "avoir" in these expressions indicates that the feeling or condition is a transitory one. Using "être" indicates a defining characteristic, a state of being. So "J'ai chaud" = I am (i.e., feel) hot, whereas "Je suis chaud" (where "chaud" is an adjective) is a very informal/familiar expression meaning "I am hot/randy/horny" or "I am enthusiastic".
- J'ai faim = I am hungry.
- J'ai vingt ans = I am twenty years old.
- J'ai soif = I am thirsty.
- J'ai froid = I am cold (or) I feel cold.
- J'ai chaud = I am warm (or) I feel warm/hot.
In standard English, "to feel" is a stative verb and is not used in the continuous sense. http://esl.about.com/od/grammarstructures/a/g_stative.htm
"j'ai chaud/froid" is about an inner sensation (feel) of warmth/coldness. It is idiomatic.
Similarly, other 'inner sensations" use the verb "avoir" and a noun: "j'ai faim, j'ai soif, j'ai peur, j'ai envie...". In some cases, it is possible, but far less common, to use the verb "être" with an adjective, as in English:
- j'ai faim = je suis affamé(e) = I am hungry
- j'ai soif = je suis assoiffé(e) = I am thirsty
However, "je suis chaud(e)" means "I am enthusiastic" and "je suis froid" - that is rarely used with "je" - let's say "cet homme est froid" = this man is cold (= the contrary of 'warm and friendly').
"le lait est chaud / la soupe est chaude" is just a descriptor like "white" or "good".