Coucou à tous c’est Caroline et c'est reparti pour un nouvel article. In this article, I would like to focus on the French verb aimer. It is pretty straightforward to use. You just add the thing that you like (whether it’s a thing or an action) right after it. I know you’re all very capable of doing that. :)
You may also know that when you don’t want to repeat a noun or a group of nouns in a reply, you can replace it/them using le, la or les, depending on the gender and number. So, for example, let’s take tu aimes le fromage ? (do you like cheese?). We could simply reply oui j’aime le fromage, but it’s redundant. In this case, we end up using the word fromage twice and French people don’t like to repeat things at all. So, what we do is use the rule that I just talked about. We replace le fromage with le because it’s masculine and singular. Thus, we end up with the response oui je l’aime (yes, I like it). That should be correct, right? We followed the rule.
Well… it is grammatically correct. However, you’ve just told the whole world that you have a weird fetish for cheese. You see, je l’aime doesn’t actually mean “I like it.” Instead, it means “i’m in love with him/her,” or “in love with it” if you do in fact have a fetish for something.
Essentially, in English, you have two verbs: ”to like“ and ”to love.” Thus, it’s much simpler to differentiate between the various feelings that fall on the spectrum of love. In French, however, we have only one verb: aimer. Therefore, you will need nuance to express all of these different shades of love. And that’s exactly what we will learn today: how to properly use this verb depending on the object of your affection. However, keep in mind that je l’aime is reserved just for your loved ones.
So, let’s start with that: how to talk about people without unintentionally declaring your love to everybody. Now, you already know that you can’t use je l’aime for your friends. Even saying j’aime Marie is not the same as “I like Mary.” The trick here that turns love into friendship, is to use modifiers: words like beaucoup, vraiment and bien.
So, if you want to talk about your friend Mary and how awesome she is, you should say j’aime beaucoup Marie. You could also say je l’aime beaucoup if she was already mentioned in the conversation and you didn’t want to repeat her name. The same goes for je l’aime vraiment and je l’aime bien. It works perfectly and you won’t create any misunderstandings. The other solution that you have is to use the verb adorer. This verb never means that you’re in love and you don’t need a modifier to use it. You can just say j’adore Marie or je l’adore; it will automatically indicate friendship.
Now, let’s move on to objects. We’ll do this in two parts. The first category is when you talk about something in general, or about a group of objects. Examples of this are jazz music, science-fiction books, Italian food and dresses. Here, we are not talking about a specific item. So, we will use a sentence structure that is a bit different, but still super easy. Since we’re talking about something very general, we can’t use le-la-les. I know that sounds like I’m telling you to forget grammar here, being that when you say “I like jazz,” it is translated as j’aime le jazz, with a definite article. Thus, it seems logical to use le in the shortened version of the sentence. However, while this is grammatically correct, it isn’t what French people say. Instead, because it’s a broad category of objects, we will use the little word ça. Let’s take the example of science-fiction books:
- Est-ce que tu aimes la science-fiction ? Oui j’aime ça.
- Est-ce que tu aimes les robes ? Oui j’adore ça.
Here, we use the word ça because we are talking about science-fiction books in general. We are not talking about a particular author, nor the books that are in your living room.
On the other hand, if you were to talk about a specific writer or a specific book, such as The Hunger Games, this would fall into the second category. As a result, we wouldn’t be able to use the word ça. Instead, we will once again use the structure that we used to talk about people in a friendly way. Do you remember? Je l’aime with a modifier. So, let’s have a look at what we could possibly say about Stephen King:
- Est-ce que tu aimes Stephen King ? Oui je l’aime beaucoup, c’est un super auteur.
You could also use je l’adore without any modifiers, being that adorer never means “love.” Now, how about The Hunger Games trilogy?
- Est-ce que tu as lu Hunger Games ? Oui j’ai tout lu. Je les ai beaucoup aimés.
Here, we use les because there are three books, so it’s plural.
If you’re not really sure and can’t decide whether it’s a specific object or a category of objects, I have a tip for you. In French, it’s possible to use the verbs aimer and adorer just by themselves. It may sound a bit weird because in English you can’t really say “I like!” or “I love,” but in French it’s totally fine. So, if we take our previous example:
- Est-ce que tu aimes la science-fiction ?
you could just reply Oui j’aime. Similarly, if you wanted to talk about The Hunger Games, you could say:
- Est-ce que tu as lu Hunger Games ? Oui et j’ai adoré.
See? Super easy.
Let’s finish now with our last category: how to talk about situations and actions. By this I mean “eating cheese,” “running” or “going to the movies,” for example. Here, we will use that little word that we used when talking about a category of objects: ça. Let’s take the example of going to the movies:
- Tu aimes bien aller au ciné ? Oui j’aime ça mais j’y vais pas souvent.
or talking about running:
- Tu aimes courir ? Oui j’adore ça.
Don’t forget that it’s possible to use modifiers with the verb aimer. So, it’s completely OK to say j’aime bien ça or j’aime beaucoup ça.
A little warning: when you talk about a place, you can’t use the words ça or le-la-les like you did with je l’aime bien. Instead, you will have to use aimer or adorer as standalones. For example, if you are talking about London:
- Tu as deja visité Londres? Oui et j’aime beaucoup.
OK guys, that’s it for today. I’m sure you weren’t expecting a simple verb like aimer to be so full of surprises! As usual, a little challenge is waiting for you. I’m looking forward to having a chat with you in the comments section about your answers to my quizz.
A la prochaine fois !