Aimer is one of the most common French verbs. It is a regular -ER verb, requires avoir in the compound tenses, and can mean "to like" or "to love." There is a little bit of a trick to using aimer correctly with people and direct object pronouns which you will learn about in this lesson.
Aimer means "to like" or "to love" when followed by a noun or infinitive.
J'aime Paris - I love Paris
Il aime les chats - He likes cats
Aimes-tu voyager ? - Do you like to travel?
I love you
When aimer is followed by a person, it means "to love" or "to be in love with." You can use aimer to mean simply "love" with your family, but with other people, it means "in love," so if that's not what you mean, you will need to qualify it (see below).
J'aime Luc (mon frère).
I love Luc (my brother).
Il aime Chantal.
He's in love with Chantal.
Je t'aime !
I love you!
I like you
To say that you "like" or are "fond of" someone, qualify aimer with an adverb, such as assez, bien, or beaucoup. These adverbs make aimer less strong, so it can be used with friends rather than family and lovers.
J'aime assez Paul.
I kind of like Paul.
J'aime bien Ana.
I like Ana.
J'aime beaucoup Étienne.
I really like Étienne.
Je t'aime bien.
I like you.
Aimer with direct objects
The direct object pronouns le, la, and les can only be used with aimer when they refer to people. The meaning of aimer with a direct object pronoun is the same as explained above.
Je l'aime !
I love him/her!
Je l'aime bien.
I like him/her.
When the direct object means "it" (because you are replacing a non-human noun or a verb), you cannot use a direct object pronoun; instead, you must use the indefinite demonstrative pronoun ça.
Aimes-tu le tennis ? Oui, j'aime ça.
Do you like tennis? Yes, I like it.
Nous voyageons beaucoup, nous aimons ça.
We travel a lot, we like it.
Je t'ai écrit un poème - tu aimes ça ?
I wrote you a poem - do you like it?
Aimer in the conditional
In the conditional, aimer is a polite way to make a request or state a desire
J'aimerais partir à midi.
I would like to leave at noon.
Aimeriez-vous manger avec nous ?
Would you like to eat with us?
The pronominal verb s'aimer can be reflexive or reciprocal.
1. Reflexive: to like oneself
Je m'aime en bleu.
I like myself (how I look) in blue.
Il ne s'aime pas.
He doesn't like himself (has low self-esteem).
2. Reciprocal: to be in love, to love one another
Nous nous aimons.
We are in love.
Penses-tu qu'ils s'aiment ?
Do you think they are in love?
Expressions with aimer
aimer à la folie - to be madly in love
aimer autant - to be just as happy (with, that), to prefer
aimer mieux - to prefer
Il m'aime un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout -
He loves me, he loves me not
Qui aime bien châtie bien (proverb) - Spare the rod and spoil the child
Qui m'aime aime mon chien (proverb) - Love me, love my dog