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I can see how a man would be called "mon amour."

The term I might use for a woman would be "amoureuse."

But even the Stevie Wonder song refers to "Ma Chérie Amour."

On the other hand, the feminine of chanteur is chanteuse.

What, if anything, is the difference between "amour" and "amoureuse" as it relates to a woman?

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6  
It's not an answer, but you'll be interested to know that while amour is masculine, the plural amours is feminine. Exercise: there are other such words in French, find them. –  Joubarc Aug 26 '11 at 19:42
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@Joubarc Wikipédia is quite extensive on this subject. –  Evpok Aug 26 '11 at 20:56
    
@Evpok well, duh. –  Joubarc Aug 27 '11 at 6:38
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By the way, "Ma Chérie Amour" is the title of a song. This is not an expression that is used by French-speaking people. I know I don't and never heard anyone use it. –  zejam Aug 27 '11 at 7:20
    
@Joubarc Vois ça comme la correction ;) –  Evpok Aug 27 '11 at 9:36
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6 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

A man will call his wife mon amour as well. It's the same as if they call one another my love. The word doesn't become feminine because you apply it to a woman. Both would say:

Mon amour, tu as pensé à acheter du pain ?

They would only call the other one amoureux or amoureuse when talking of him/her to someone else, like in:

Paul, je te présente mon amoureuse, Marie.

or

Paul, je te présente mon amoureux, Jean.

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Even if "amour" became feminine when you used it as a pet name for a woman, it would still be "mon amour" because of the liaison. So, effectively, there would never be a difference. –  Abby T. Miller Aug 27 '11 at 21:42
    
Strangely, "amour" becomes also feminine when it gets smaller : we say "un grand amour" but "une amourette". –  subtenante Aug 28 '11 at 5:55
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"mon" refers to the first person (adjectif possessif) of the singular. Amour is masculine word. Thus each person of the couple refers to the other as "mon amour".

If the noun has been feminine, each would have said "ma" like in "ma bicyclette" (my bicycle).

Edit: (see comments)

The "adjectif possessif" does not depend of the gender of the possessor but the gender and number of the object. Effectively there is an exception, when the next word begins with a vowel.

Examples:

"Ma bicyclette(f)", "Ma table(f)", "Mon animation(f)", "Mon échelle(f)"

"Mon poulet(m)", "Mon chien(m)", "Mon écureil(m)"

In your examples : amour is masculine so "mon amour" and "chérie" is feminine so "ma chérie d'amour" (Don't forget the d'!!!)

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Par exemple: Dis, ma petite bicyclette, tu as pensé à sortir les poubelles ? –  Joubarc Aug 27 '11 at 6:40
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Actually, no. If "amour" were feminine, it would still be "mon amour". –  Phira Aug 27 '11 at 7:31
    
In french the "déterminant possessifs" does not depend of the gender of the possessor but the genre and number of the object. Effectively there is an exception, when the next word begins with a vowel. "Ma bicyclette", "Ma table", "Mon animation", "Mon échelle". –  M'vy Aug 27 '11 at 15:17
    
@Joubarc : Mon père appelait bien ma mère « mon boudin... » –  JPP Sep 7 '11 at 21:34
    
@JPP Comment on dit awkward en français... ? ;-) –  Romain VALERI Jul 9 '12 at 8:35
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EDIT: I won't delete my answer because of @Gilles' comment below.


Instead of "mon amour" you should use "mon Amour" (l'Amour avec un grand A).

In this case "Amour" represent Cupid (or an angel), so basically "mon Amour" is somewhere between "my angel" and "my love" but is a proper noun. So there is no feminine for "Amour".

When you say "mon amoureux/amoureuse" it's "the person I'm in love with".

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There is no reason to use a capital letter here. This is a perfectly normal use of the common noun. See e.g. TLF sense IV.D.1.a. –  Gilles Aug 27 '11 at 0:01
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« Mon amour » c'est l'être aimé (quel que soit son sexe, quel que soit celui de qui s'exprime). « Mon amoureux », « mon amoureuse », c'est celui ou celle qui éprouve de l'amour pour moi et le manifeste (il ne va pas être utilisé dans le cas d'un amour inavoué publiquement).

Aucun des deux termes n'implique la réciprocité des sentiments : « elle n'arrive pas à se débarrasser d'un amoureux qui la poursuit de ses assiduités » peut-on dire de quelqu'un qui lui affirmerait : « elle est l'amour de ma vie et je n'arrive pas à l'oublier bien qu'elle en aime un autre. »


« Mon amour » is the loved one. « Mon amoureux », « mon amoureuse » is the one who loves and express it. For neither term, reciprocity is implied.

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Amour is the word for the abstract love concept, but can also be used in the singular form to mean a beloved person (mon amour) of either gender. It is then a masculine noun.

Note that amour is a very peculiar noun in the French language. In the singular form it is masculine, and in the plural form it is feminine.

Un bel amour

but

Des amours douloureuses

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You can use many common nouns as pet names. In that case, you'll naturally use them with determinants corresponding to the grammatical gender of that noun, regardless of the sex of your beloved interlocutor. Among the classical pet names, quite a few are regularly used for both men and women : amour (m. at least in the singular, love), ange (m, angel), bébé (m., baby), cœur (m, heart), trésor (m., treasure)...

As I write this list, I realise that I do not know of a feminine pet name often used for men...

Of course, less classical pet names exist and can borrow from every grammatical category and every language. (Well, maybe not every grammatical category: I've never heard « quatorze » or « duquel » used as pet names, as lovely as that would be...)

A literary reference is inevitable.

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I do not know of a feminine pet name often used for men : I suspect most pet names must first pass the be of the form « mon <something> » test (to be similar to « mon amour ») in order to become pet names, hence you don't won't find any (all the ones on the top of my head either are masculine or have a masculine form) –  Nikana Reklawyks Oct 17 '12 at 7:27
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