Talking About Love in French : Aimer, Adorer, Préferer, Détester

talking about love in french how to say i love you

Ah, l’amour.

Throughout history, French has been considered the language of love.

I’m not sure, what made France the most romantic country in the world – is it the sound of the language, their seductive personalities, or their skill to enjoy the pleasures of life?

From the courtly love from medieval times to French New Wave in cinematography, the french language is meant to be the language for love.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the French have many different ways of saying “I love you.” and expressing love.

Today, we’ll cover different love expressions that fit a variety of love situations.

talking about love in french saying i love you

Like vs Love in French

The first common misunderstanding comes from the fact that French has one word for like and love. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t differentiate between two degrees of love.

They are just expressed in different ways. Here is how they differentiate between the two meanings.

To love somebody


To like somebody

aimer bien

To like somebody very much


To love something


To like something

aimer, aimer bien

  1. To say l love you, in French say Je t’aime
  2. To say l like you, in French say  Je t’aime bien
  3. To say l like something (coffee), in French you say J‘aime le café
  4. To say l love something like coffee; you say J‘adore le café or J’en suis fou or Je craque!
  5. To say that coffee is  outstanding you sayC‘est une tuerie! or C‘est dingue!

How to Conjugate Verbs Aimer and Adorer

The verb aimer belongs to the 1. group of regular French verbs, ending in -er.

Present- verb aimer

tu aimes
il aime
nous aimons
vous aimez
ils aiment

To see how aimer conjugates in other modes and tenses, take a look at the Conjugator. 

The verb adorer belongs to the same regular group of verbs, and therefore, has the same endings as aimer.

Ways to Say “I Like You” in French

To express your appreciation for another person, you may choose one or more translations below.

Je t’aime bien

In English, the literal translation of this phrase would be ‘I love you well’, which may not make much sense. However, literal translations can be misleading.

The phrase Je t’aime bien is essentially a softer version of Je t’aime.

Je t’aime bien is the right phrase to use when you want to show someone you like them rather than love them.

Je vous aime bien

This is another important phrase to learn so you can tell people who aren’t close friends that you like them too.

The same as je t’aime bien, but with the informal pronoun ‘you’ (tu) replaced by the formal pronoun ‘you’.

Using this phrase is appropriate if you want to express your love for a teacher, coworker, or some other non-family member or close friend.

Je t’aime

Sometimes, especially in lighthearted situations, the phrase  Je t’aime can be sufficient to express that you like someone.

In the same circumstance, you can also use je t’aime beaucoup to express a friendly sentiment.

Use this phrase with care though, as it can be interpreted as a declaration of love. It is never appropriate to use the phrase “I love you” if the person to whom you are speaking is not familiar enough for you to say it.

Tu es sympathique (sympa)

A good alternative to saying you like someone is to tell them that they are nice (sympathique – often shortened to sympa in speech).

Tu es genial

Genial means that someone is great or awesome.

When someone shows thoughtfulness or has just done something nice for you, this phrase is typically used. It is often used as an expression of gratitude.

Asking “Do you like…” in French

Do you like is the closed-question type and the expected answers range between “Yes, I like it”, and “No, I don’t like it”.   To ask such a question, use the good old French inversion method.

Aimes-tu la cuisine italienne?

Do you like Italian food?

The second question type Elles aiment Paris ? is made using only the rising intonation at the end which makes it a rather informal question type.

Aiment elles Paris?  / Elles aiment Paris ?

Do they like Paris?

Expressing Preferences in French

To express preference is to like something more than something else.

In French, we would normally use sentences like these when talking about preferences:

Je préfère l’Italie.

I prefer Italy.

Préférer is a French first-group verb meaning “to prefer.” The verb can also be translated as “select” or “opt for,” depending on the context.

Préférer follows the regular tense pattern of the first group of verbs but has certain accent changes that need special attention.


je préfère
tu préfères
il préfère
nous préférons
vous préférez
ils préfèrent

Je préfère la France à l’Italie.

I prefer France to Italy.

What if You Don’t Like Something ?

Here’s how to say you don’t like something :

Je n’aime pas le pomme de Terre.

I don’t like potatoes. 

If you are looking to express a higher degree of dislike:

Je n’aime pas du tout la viande.

I really don’t like meat at all.

When you feel strongly about something you dislike

Je déteste les chiens.

I hate dogs.

Nous détestons le froid de l’hiver.

We hate the cold in the winter.

The verb détester, belongs to the first group of regular verbs in French, finishing in -er.


je déteste
tu détestes
il déteste
nous détestons
vous détestez
ils détestent

Is French Your Coup de Foudre?

Since it’s a language of love, let’s learn to express love in French.

After today’s lesson, you will be able to express your feelings on different occasions and toward different people, from friends to lovers.

Many learn French because of business or moving to France, but for most French learners it’s about falling in love with the French language and culture.

We believe French is your coup de foudre.

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