8

One English word whose translation I tend to hesitate on is "enjoy".

English-French dictionaries tend to give one of a few suggestions. Here's a roundup, along with my reasons for hesitating. Can you either identify the ones that work or, if my readings are correct, suggest better alternatives?

s'amuser
« Je me suis amusé à la fête. »
« Amuse-toi bien ! »

The reason I'm not confident about this translation is that it's strongly associated in my mind with fun. Whereas you can enjoy something that is solemn. You can tell someone, "Enjoy the wedding!" but « Amuse-toi bien au mariage ! » feels out of place to me.

jouir de
« J'ai joui d'un bon revenu. »
« Jouis du concert ! »

Personally, I find there's little middle ground between a somewhat formal sense of this word and the sexual sense, neither of which is appropriate.

aimer, adorer
« J'ai aimé la musique. »

In the first place, the souhait doesn't work for this option. « Adorez le concert ! » And even in the declarative form, I'm not sure that liking or even loving something is the same thing as enjoying it. To me the main part of enjoy is "have a good time or experience", even if the word can also mean "be fond of". For example, this translation works for "I enjoy Beethoven," but doesn't quite capture "I enjoyed the concert." I'm not certain, however.

bon X !
« Bon film ! »

This one has the opposite problem: only the souhait exists, not the declarative form, outside of statements like « C'était un bon film. »


What do you suggest is the best way to express this range of meanings? By mixing and matching the above options depending on the context? Or is there a better choice?

6

The "enjoy"s in French come in all flavours, far from being confined to a single translation.

  1. To express the idea of "enjoy the concert / wedding day!", I'd probably say:

Donnez-vous en à cœur joie ! — « s’en donner à cœur joie »

... to tell them to make the most of the joyous occasion.

  1. « S'amuser » leans towards having mindless fun. For instance:

Ça te dirait de me laisser me joindre à votre groupe ? Vous avez l'air de vous amuser.

  1. When it comes to culinary delights, « se régaler (de) » comes in handy:

Je t'ai préparé une tarte aux fruits de saison. Régale-toi bien !

  1. Speaking of culinary delights, you can use « déguster », but not « régaler », in the following:

Comment veux-tu qu'on déguste un bon vin dans un resto ultra bruyant !?

  1. I'd never use « jouir » to say "enjoy the concert!"; « jouir » is more about enjoying something like a privilege that you are entitled to, immense popularity, or good health, as in:

Elle jouit d'un rang distingué, mais elle ne s'en vante pas.

  1. As for the music context, « aimer » fits the bill to express the idea of "enjoy doing":

J'aime écouter la musique.

  1. As an exclamatory "Enjoy something!":

« Bon voyage ! » « Bon appétit ! » « Bon film ! »

  1. « Profiter » meshes well with the English expression "enjoy everything something has to offer":

Une semaine ne suffit pas pour profiter de tout ce que le Canada a à (vous) offrir.

  1. I'd use only « savourer » in the following instance:

Savourez pleinement la vie !

  • 1
    Je ne vais pas poster une réponse pour un seul exemple, mais j'aime beaucoup : "Faites-vous plaisir" – Laurent S. Nov 1 '17 at 15:36
  • A nice addition! Interestingly, whereas "Faites-vous plaisir !" in the imperative form does mean "Enjoy!", the same expression as a statement does not translate as "enjoy": "Ça me fait plaisir de vous voir tous sains et saufs." --- Comme quoi le contexte joue toujours un rôle décisif. :) – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Nov 1 '17 at 16:09
  • Aussi, dans un ton bien plus familier, et plus "jeune", on peut "Kiffer son après-midi !" – SivaDashq Feb 1 '18 at 9:26
  • Re 7: Bonne continuation! seems to cover a whole host of things. – Harry Audus Mar 29 at 3:52
4

I would say

Profite bien !

From profiter.

Or even simpler

Profite !

It's not necessarily associated with fun and fits perfectly in your exemple "Enjoy the wedding !".

  • 3
    “Profite bien !” as a full sentence is not really idiomatic, we'd say “Profites-en bien !”, and there has to be an antecedent for the en in the conversation. In general profiter requires a concrete benefit (e.g. money) or a metaphorical one (e.g. knowledge); in the context of a concert, it would mean “get the most of it”, which is not exactly the same as “enjoy”. For a wedding, it doesn't work (unless it's to e.g. suggest finding an unattached mate there — some kind of concrete benefit, rather than enjoyment). – Gilles Oct 27 '17 at 21:18
  • @Gilles I fully support "Profite bien", much more natural than "Profites-en bien" (D'ailleurs on prononce le s mais à l'impératif, pourquoi est-ce qu'on en met un ?). I'd even risk to say it's idiomatic. It doesn't fit for everything but it definitely does for a wedding. – Teleporting Goat Oct 30 '17 at 16:15
  • Nice all-purpose one! Thanks. – Luke Sawczak Nov 1 '17 at 2:54
4

For the sake of completeness and fun, may I bring to your attention the delightful "enjailler" (of Ivorian origin it seems). "On s'est bien enjaillé."

2

There isn't a single translation. French tends to use more specific words that denote a specific kind of pleasure.

“Amuse-toi bien” is one of the contexts where amuser can mean happiness-fun and not just haha-fun. You can say this about a concert or a wedding. After the concert, “j'ai aimé” (or “j'ai adoré” or another near-synonym) is the natural way to convey this sentiment, whereas “je me suis amusé” says that there was at least a bit of haha-fun. “Bon X” works better for some X than others, for example “bon voyage” and “bon week-end” are extremely common whereas “bon concert” is ok but sounds slightly weird.

Jouir doesn't work, even if you don't care about the possible sexual meaning. In the sense of “enjoy”, jouir is either extremely old-fashioned, or usable in informal contexts that are very hard to pinpoint, often with no complement to mean “I'm happy”. It's rather hard to gauge so I recommend that non-natives avoid it.

As Alone-zee notes, for food (and drink), se régaler works, both as a wish and as a declaration: “Régale-toi !”, “Je me suis régalé.”.

  • Thanks for this background info and correction about j'ai aimé. The sheer variety in Alone-zee's answer ended up winning me over, but this was useful. – Luke Sawczak Nov 1 '17 at 2:53

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