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Aimer in French: Conjugation & Meaning

Instructor: Emily Fellmann

Emily has taught French to all ages including college and high school both in the traditional classroom and online. She has 2 master's degrees in French Literature and Language.

'Je t'aime' is an expression many of us know from French movies or songs, meaning 'I love you,' but the verb 'aimer' in French can mean 'to like' or 'to love,' depending on the context. If you want to know how to use it when talking about music, people, food and more, read on to find out!

Forms of Aimer

aimer.France

Conjugating the verb aimer is fairly easy because it belongs to the biggest group of French verbs, -er verbs. The endings for regular -er verbs are as follows: e, es, e, ons, ez, ent.

Steps to Conjugating Aimer and Pronunciation

To conjugate the verb aimer, we do the following:

1. Take off the '-er' ending to get the stem aimer - er = aim.

2. Add on the endings depending on the subject of the sentence.

Here's how the verb aimer looks when conjugated and how it's pronounced:

  • J'aime (ehm)
  • Tu aimes (ehm)
  • Il/Elle/ On aime (ehm)
  • Nous aimons (ehmohn)
  • Vous aimez (ehmay)
  • Ils/ Elles aiment (ehm)
    • Note that the je contracts before a vowel to j'.

To Like or To Love?

As stated above, the main meaning of the verb aimer is to like. For example, J'aime les animaux means 'I like animals,' BUT the expression, Je t'aime, speaking directly to someone, definitely means 'I love you!'

Sometimes, in order to make sure there's no confusion, native French speakers will add the adverb bien to tone down the emotion a bit. For example: J'aime bien la musique jazz. (I like jazz music.)

Or, they might also add the adverb beaucoup for emphasis such as in Ils aiment beaucoup le chocolat! (They like chocolate a lot!)

When it comes to people, J'aime Louise can actually translate to (I love Louise) or (I like Louise) depending entirely on the context. Sometimes, we can use the verb adorer, as in J'adore Louise, to emphasize that we like her a lot, or use the expression être amoureux/euse de to mean 'to be in love with,' which eliminates any confusion. For example:

Je suis amoureux de Louise. (I am in love with Louise.)

J'adore Louise. (I adore Louise.) This doesn't necessarily mean you are in love with her.

Remember that aimer, like all language, happens in a context. So facial expressions, tone, background information and so forth all play a role in how the listener/reader will interpret what you mean.

What's Not to Like?

When invited to a nice French dinner, or when choosing music or a movie, we also have to say what we don't like. Here are some examples of how to change affirmative or positive statements with the verb aimer into negative ones. Don't forget, we use the ne pas sandwich to make a verb negative.

Elle aime le chien. She likes the dog. Elle n'aime pas le chien. She doesn't like the dog.

Ils aiment la moto. They like the motorcycle. Ils n'aiment pas la moto. They don't like the motorcycle.

Aimez-vous le Français?

Now, let's practice using the verb aimer to ask and answer common questions.

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