lundi 14 octobre 2013

I love you or I like you ?

I am sure you know already that "Je t'aime" in French means "I love you" and you probably also think that "je t'aime beaucoup" means "I love you very much" or that "je t'aime bien" means "I love you a lot". Well, it's not so.

I saw a film once where a girl said to a guy "Tu sais que je t'aime bien", and he replied "Je ne veux pas que tu m'aimes bien, je veux que tu m'aimes".

During the time my husband and I were dating, when he says "je t'aime", I reply with "je t'aime beaucoup". One day, he finally said I think "I love you more than you love me" and I was like "why would you say that". He then said that it is because I always say "je t'aime beaucoup" which is not a feeling as strong as simply saying "je t'aime". He said "One does not say this to someone in a romantic sense".  
Aimer, c'est condamner son cœur à mort !
"Je t'aime beaucoup" or "je t'aime bien" means litterally "I like you" and it's mostly used between friends who share an affectionate friendship.

In English, it makes a huge difference if someone says to you "I like you very much" or "I love you very much". But in French, "aimer" is the only verb to express both.

So when someone says, "je t'aime beaucoup" or "je t'aime bien", it may mean "I like you very much" and not necessarily "I love you very much".

"Beaucoup" or "bien" actually makes "aimer" weaker instead of stronger as one would assume it would do.
In English, saying "I love you very much" is deeper than just saying "I love you". It's the other way round in French. The adverb automatically decreases the intensity of the emotions expressed when added in the phrase.

  • Je t'aime ( used for family & lovers )
  • Je t'aime beaucoup / Je t'aime bien (used for very good friends)
  • Je t'adore ( can be used for family, friends, lovers etc.)
In France, when a man really loves a woman, he will never say to her "je t'aime bien", because this expression has nothing to do with the meaning of "love" in English.

It's either he says "je t'aime" or he says nothing because he is too shy to really express his feelings! In France, "on aime bien" son laptop, blackberry, chien, etc. but definately not one's husband/wife.

When you love in French, it's either you love him/her "je t'aime" ou you don't love. If a French man says to his wife "je t'aime bien", she would be hurt.
 Chaque jour je t'aime davantage, aujourd'hui plus qu'hier et bien moins que demain."  - Rosemonde Gérard
You might have heard the expression "je t'aime trop grave", matured and serious lovers don't use that, young lovers do, adolescents who don't even know exactly what true love is, it does not have the same sense as "je t'aime" or "je t'aime beaucoup" or even "je t'aime bien" neither. It's an expression used by secondary school students, 15 years maximum. To them it's supposed to be cool... like "je t'aime a la folie".
When two adults use "Je t'aime bien" they are just sex partners, nothing serious, nothing deep, just sex. They won't refer to one another as "petit(e) ami(e)" or "copain/copine" either. They'll say "juste un(e) connaissance" if they are a bit close, if they share some sort of friendship or a bit fond of one another they'll refer to themselves as "un(e) ami(e)".

"Je t'aime bien" can also sort of mean "t'es gentille", "t'es cool". Like when I am with my friend Catherine, I laugh a lot, she is very funny, likes to crack jokes. She has a great sense of humour... often "humour noir". I'll laugh and say to her,  "je t'aime bien" which means "t'es gentille" or "t'es cool", "I like you a lot...", "I appreciate you... your friendship".
When a guy invites a girl out, if after dinner, he drops her at home and wants to give her a kiss, if she doesn't like him and doesn't want to see him again or just wants him as a friend, she'll simply say "tu sais moi je t'aime bien..." 

If a guy takes a girl out and doesn't call her back after the first date, it means he doesn't like her. If she calls him first, he'll probably say something like "Tu sais, moi je t'aime bien mais je suis occupé en ce moment" etc. It means he doesn't like her.
But if he does, and wants to know if the girl likes him, he'll ask her if he can take her out again, if she says "je t'aime bien" but adds an excuse, in order not to accept the next invitation it means either she doesn't like him and doesn't want to see him again or "I like you, let's be friends". It can also mean "I like you, i would like to know you better" which might be the begining of a relatonship which might grow into something deeper or not. Up to the guy to discover which it is!

Often, the tone of the voice determines whether "je t'aime beaucoup" or "je t'aime bien" means "I like you very much" or "I love you very much but i am too shy to say it".

This is one of the reasons why google translate and others will never give a 100% correct translation.

Here are different ways to express one's feelings/emotions in French

Deeper than I love you, very intimate (for soulmates)
  • Je t'aime plus que tout
  • Je t'aime plus que tout au monde
  • Je t'aime plus que ma propre vie
  • Je t'aime plus que toi
  • Je t’aime de tout mon cœur
Weak compared to I love you
  • Je t'aime à la folie
  • Je t'aime passionnément
  • Je t'aime énormément
Weaker compared to I love you
  • Je t'aime fort / très fort  
  • Je t'aime tellement
  • Je t'aime trop / trop grave
  • Je t'aime tant
Weakest ...
  • Je t'aime beaucoup
  • Je t'aime bien
  • Je t’apprécie
  • J'adore
In French, to say "I love you", when you really mean it, without being misunderstood or misinterpreted, just say simply Je t'aime.

6 commentaires:

  1. J'aime bien ton blog.
    J'ai été vivre en France pour un mois maintenant et c'est un aventure. Ma français est mal mais je veux l'améliorer.
    Avant j'oublie, je suis nigériane.
    Je lis tout les 'posts' et il y a très intéressant !

    1. Merci Erin :) J'ai choisi d’écrire ce blog en anglais pour encourager l'apprentissage de la langue française. J’espère que cela sera le cas.

  2. Great piece, very enlightening!! and to think I had been making that mistake all the while. Thanks.

  3. I am hurt not hearing those words from my husband at times i expect him to. Should I be very worried or its just him that he dont usually say it? Please I need some advices. Because he once cheat and I cant trust him again with many things.

  4. wait so if I wanted to tell a guy i liked him romantically but not that i was in love with him (such as at the beginning of a relationship) I can't say "je t'aime", right?