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There doesn't seem to be a way to indicate that one only likes a person with whom one is friends, rather than loves them. Is there a way to indicate this while still referring to the friend as 'tu'?

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Tutoiement has nothing to do with it; note that a similar difference exists between "je vous aime" and "je vous aime bien". – Brennan Vincent Aug 17 '11 at 20:17
Voting to close as general reference (any bilingual dictionary will give you the answer). – Gilles Aug 17 '11 at 20:26
So can someone clarify this, is there a distinction between I love you (romantic) and I like you (friends) that is in english also in French? If there is such a distinction (and it is not inferred just based on the context and the way it is said) what are the phrases used. Please also indicate where you are from (is this French, Canadian, ...) – Ali Aug 17 '11 at 20:43
I think it is a good question, as it is more a matter of cultural conventions not a strictly linguistic discussion. – Ali Aug 17 '11 at 20:44
Peut-être les Français ne savent pas aimer à moitié. – Andrew Vit Sep 2 '11 at 7:22

10 Answers 10

up vote 63 down vote accepted

Je t'aime bien (literally: I love you much).

To change “love” to “like”, you need to modify it with an adverb.

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We don't often use this one with people of the other sex like Pierre explains. It assumes a friendship relation but it's a little more subtle. We often use "Je t'aime bien" to imply we don't love ("je t'aime") the other person. – Louhike Aug 17 '11 at 20:44
Indeed, "Je t'aime bien" is also a way of saying "but I'll nevere, ever, love you". To say "I love you", you'd rather use "Je ne te hais point." – Joubarc Aug 18 '11 at 7:23
@Joubarc What a citation! Indeed you can say that, but as a speaker of the language who currently lives in the country I would never use something like this orally. – Neikos Aug 18 '11 at 8:27
Me neiher, but if the person you're trying to seduce knowns her/his classics, you may get bonus points. I guess I'm more on the "Tu ne me laisses pas indifférent." end of the spectrum than on the "Je te kiffe grave!!" one. – Joubarc Aug 18 '11 at 8:36
My understanding of the adverb in "je t'aime bien" might be something like "I like you well enough". – Andrew Vit Sep 2 '11 at 7:26

Je t'apprécie

Je t'aime bien like Andrew Lewis suggests will work fine too, but it is safer to use Je t'apprécie with same sex persons.

In fact, to like is often translated as apprécier in French.

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It can often be considered as a bit too formal in a spoken conversation though. – ℝaphink Aug 17 '11 at 20:20
@Raphink: it's what I personnaly use. I use Tu me plais or Je t'aime bien with new girl friends ;) I'm not sure it's what the OP is asking for – user22 Aug 17 '11 at 20:21
I guess you mean girlfriends, rather than girl friends, or else you might get in trouble with your special one ;-) – ℝaphink Aug 17 '11 at 20:24
@Raphink: yes exactly ;) – user22 Aug 17 '11 at 20:25
Chez nous on dit souvent "je t'apprécie beaucoup", mais de façon surprenante, on dit rarement "je t'apprécie" tout court. Ce n'est pas formel, et c'est rarement ambigü, exactement comme "I like you". Parfois, c'est aussi une façon de dire, en réponse à une avance, "I like you but sorry I don't love you". – Shlublu Aug 30 '11 at 10:54

Generally, one would use:

Je t'aime bien.

However, if you want to be more formal, then use rather the following:

Je t'apprécie.

If you speak French with a foreign accent, then I suggest you use the second sentence as it sounds less naïve than the first one, which could be directly taken from the first lesson of any learning course.

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You are right, the second is less naive, more serious in a certain way. We would rather say "je t'apprécie beaucoup", but "je t'apprécie" (especially with a foreign accent) would be perfectly understood and appreciated. – Shlublu Sep 2 '11 at 8:04

"I like you" can be translated by:

Je t'aime bien. ( I like you )

Je te trouve sympa. ( I think you're nice )

Je t'adore. (I like you a lot. (More used among girls))

T'es sympa. ( You're nice )

Je t'aime beaucoup. (I like you a lot, (and let's stay friend :P) )

T'es un super pote. ( You're a super nice friend )

On s'amuse bien ensemble. (We have fun together)

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I don't think you're supposed to abbreviate "tu es" to "t'es"....I could be wrong? – Aerovistae Jul 24 '12 at 19:25
In spoken French, "t'es" is as common as "you're" in English. (I am French.) – oli Jul 24 '12 at 22:42
Wow, pro tip! Thanks. Never heard it before. – Aerovistae Jul 25 '12 at 1:21
"On s'amuse bien ensemble" sound like what I would say to a sex friend. This can be useful too. – Madlozoz Apr 12 '15 at 8:06

More casually, "Tu es sympa"

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You can even say "Je t'aime", but you need non-verbal communication like intonation and gestures, or some context or background with the other person that can avoid any misunderstanding.

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Indeed. Something like "mais oui, je t'aime" express friendship. Maybe in a humorous way. – Madlozoz Apr 12 '15 at 8:07

Friends usually address themselves with "Je t'adore" or also you could make périphrases like "J’apprécie beaucoup être [en ta compagnie|avec toi]".

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Really? Friends would say to each other, 'I adore you'? – Jez Aug 17 '11 at 20:17
M'vy utilises-tu vraiment je t'adore si souvent? Moi je trouverais ça vraiment bizarre. – user22 Aug 17 '11 at 20:19
Apart from teenage girls saying that to their best friends, I can't imagine saying that to any of my friends... – ℝaphink Aug 17 '11 at 20:21
"Je t'adore" is not really use between friends. "Je t'apprécie" and "Je t'aime bien" are the more common in my point of view. – martiall Aug 17 '11 at 20:22
Indeed, the tone is important when you use this expression! A way to tone it down is to use the form "Je t'adore, toi !" or "J't'adore trop" (even more familiar). – PhiLho Aug 25 '11 at 14:05

Another good expression Tu me plais.

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I think that's not the idea of the question. "Tu me plais" hides an attraction to the other person. – martiall Aug 17 '11 at 20:21
"Tu me plais" means I like you in a romantic way. I would never say that to a colleague or friend (or to anyone really). – ℝaphink Aug 17 '11 at 20:22
Omg, sorry for misreading the question. You are absolutely right – Anton Fonarev Aug 17 '11 at 20:25
I do not agree with the other comments, "tu me plais" can be used to espressed some kind of connivance as well ("tu me plais" meaning "I like you twisted way of thinking"). – Sylvain Peyronnet Aug 18 '11 at 18:07
@Sylvain Peyronnet In that case we say something like "tu me plais bien, toi, tu as de bonnes idées". This is absolutely not ambiguous, you are right. Nevertheless the "tu me plais" (tout court) is actually more than ambiguous. It means "I find you attractive". – Shlublu Sep 2 '11 at 7:58

As other said, you are dealing with an untranslatable term. Languages support cultures, and different cultures build different social relations.

In French, there's no equivalent to like, just like there's no equivalent to vous in English. Of course one may use different language register in English, as well as one may express a whole shade of relational feelings in French. But it will be reflected in more complex constructions that you can't sum up in a one to one locution translation.

Using tu is already a way to express a more intimate relation. If you want to express that you like to spend time with a friend, you may say "je suis heureux qu’on soit ami(e)s, tu sais?". But as said, you will need to be more specific on what you want to express.

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I like you can be translated to 'je te kiffe' as a familiar language. Its origin is Arabic, see kiffer on the Wiktionary.

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