French Expression of the Day: Je t’aime bien

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 14 Feb, 2023 Updated Tue 14 Feb 2023 12:05 CEST
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Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

It might sound extremely romantic, but this French phrase is not all it seems.


Why do I need to know je t’aime bien?

Because if someone responds with this after you say je t’aime then you might not want to celebrate. 

What does it mean?

Je t’aime bien roughly pronounced juh tehm bee-ahn – looks a lot like the French expression je t’aime, which means “I love you”. So Je t'aime bien means 'I really, really love you' right? Wrong. 

While je t’aime bien literally translates as “I love you a lot”, it more usually means “I like you” or “I like you a lot”. 

This is where the nuance is found. French language expert Camille Chevalier-Karfis told The Local that Je t’aime by itself is stronger and carries deeper emotions than “je t’aime followed by any kind of adverb”. 


As a result, je t’aime bien means “I’m not in love with you, but I like you”.

“If someone says je t’aime bien, je t’aime beaucoup, je t’aime énormément…all of these could be in the friendzone, not the love zone,” explained Camille.

So if you are looking to tell someone you love them, you should stick to the simple Je t’aime. Chevalier-Karfis also recommended “Je suis amoureux (or amoureuse for women) de toi” (I am in love with you) for expressing love.

But if you want to tell someone you really like them, let them down easy, or you are too afraid of dropping the L-Bomb, then you can stick with “je t’aime bien”.

Use it like this

Il m'a dit qu'il m'aimait et tout ce que j'ai pu lui répondre, c'est que je t'aime bien parce que j'avais trop peur. – He told me he loved me and all I could say back was 'I like you a lot' because I was too scared.

Je pense qu’on est seulement amis. Je lui ai dit que je t'aimais et il a répondu par "je t'aime bien". – I think we are only friends. I told him I loved him and he just replied “I like you”.

Camille Chevalier-Karfis is a French language expert, and founder of 

And here's the most famous Je t'aime song of them all, sung by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. It too isn't quite as romantic as it sounds, as the full title is the distinctly ambiguous Je t'aime . . . moi non plus - I love you . . . me neither.




The Local 2023/02/14 12:05

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