May 23, 2024

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Aimer – The French Word for ‘Love’ and ‘Like’

French is the language of love. It has given us so many sexy words like panache, rendez-vous, liaison, femme fatale, chic, je-ne-sais-quoi. You might find it strange then, to discover that the French have only one word for both to like and to love. The word is aimer, which comes from the Latin amor, meaning ‘passion’ or ‘love’.

How to pronounce aimer

Don’t be tempted to pronounce it like the English word ‘aim’. The first part of the word sounds pretty much like the way we say the letter ‘m’. The final syllable is pronounced a little like ‘ay’, but shorter. To say ‘I like’ or ‘I love’ you drop the final syllable and say ‘j’aime’. To help you remember this all important French verb, you could imagine yourself drooling over a diamond in a jeweler’s window and saying ‘gem’ – the pronunciation being quite similar to ‘j’aime’.

French words related to aimer

You probably know the French word for ‘friend’ – ami. This word is derived from aimer but doesn’t mean ‘lover’ – that would be ‘amant’. However, the noun ‘love’ is amour – ‘I’m in love is je suis amoureux. Another French word you would instantly recognise would be amicale – ‘friendly’.

Making the difference between ‘I love’ and ‘I like’

You can use aimer to talk about the things you like: j’aime le cinema, j’aime le chocolat, j’aime visiter les monuments. If you really want to show that you are crazy about something, you could say j’adore instead. Nothing wrong with a little exaggeration, the French love it!

On the other hand, if you said to someone, je t’aime it could well be interpreted as ‘I love you’ and might send them running if they had no idea of your amorous intentions! You can weaken the intensity by saying, je t’aime bien (I like you well). Saying this to your lover would however pour cold water over any passion that previously existed. To your lover, try saying, je t’aime très fort (I love you very strongly).

A good way of building up language is to make mind maps based on ideas or themes. Now you know that the French verb aimer means both ‘to love’ and ‘to like’, you could mind-map all the things you like and love. Use a dictionary to help you and check with a friend or colleague who speaks French. Thus, a mind-map around aimer could include hobbies, sports, favourite dishes, loved ones. Don’t forget to include je n’aime pas – ”I don’t like’ – it could be useful when travelling in a French speaking country.

Once you’ve a got a good grip on using aimer to talk about yourself, see how it works for others. You’ll have to learn a few conjugations, but it’s a regular verb and you should get the hang of it quickly. There are plenty of good websites to help you with your grammar, but don’t make it a priority, it will all come together in good time. When visiting France, you’ll have plenty of chances to practice saying j’aime!