Using "plaire" to express liking something / someone

In French, to say that you like [something] or find [someone] attractive ('like' them), you can use the verb plaire.

Look at these sentences with plaire:

Cette veste plaît à Marie.
Marie likes this jacket.

Ces peintures ne plaisent pas à mon frère.
My brother doesn't like these paintings.

As you can see, the structure of the sentence with plaire is quite different than with another verb like aimer. So ...

How to use plaire in a sentence ?

Think of the verb plaire as the verb to be pleasing in English:

Martha likes chocolate   ->   Chocolate pleases Martha.

In French, you actually say plaire à [quelqu'un] (lit. to be pleasing 'to' [someone])

Le chocolat plaît à Martha.

Note that the verb agrees with the object - the person or thing being liked, not the person who likes.

Therefore with things you only use the 3rd person of plaire: 3rd person singular - is pleasing (plaît in Le Présent) and 3rd person plural - are pleasing (plaisent in Le Présent).


BUT 

You can also use plaire with people to say to find [someone] attractive: 

In this case, you can use all conjugated forms of plaire:

French English
je plais à Luc Luc likes me
tu plais à Luc Luc likes you
il/elle/on plaît à Luc Luc likes him/her/us
nous plaisons à Luc Luc likes us
vous plaisez à Luc Luc likes you
ils/elles plaisent à Luc Luc likes them

Mateo plaît à Thérèse.
Thérèse finds Mateo attractive.

How to say I/you/he/she/we/they like [something/ someone] with plaire ?

Les fleurs me plaisent
I like the flowers

Le repas te plaît?
Are you enjoying the meal?

Je lui plais.
She likes me.

Elle nous plaît.
We like her.

Nous vous plaisons.
You like us.

Tu leur plais.
They like you.

Note that you're literally saying [this] is pleasing to me, you, him, her..., that's why you use indirect object pronouns me/te/lui/nous/vous/leur, as such:

Object(s) + ind.obj.pron. + plaire 

See also Aimer = to love, like something / someone


ATTENTION:
In French you can also use the expression faire plaisir à [quelqu'un] to say to please [someone]to make [someone] happy.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Tu leur plais.
They like you.


Nous vous plaisons.
You like us.


Elle nous plaît.
We like her.


Mateo plaît à Thérèse.
Thérèse finds Mateo attractive.


Ces peintures ne plaisent pas à mon frère.
My brother doesn't like these paintings.


Je lui plais.
She likes me.


Cette veste plaît à Marie.
Marie likes this jacket.


Cette fille lui plaît.
He finds this girl attractive.
He likes this girl.


plaire


Marie me plaît
I like Marie. [i.e. more in a romantic sense]


Les fleurs me plaisent
I like the flowers


Le repas te plaît?
Are you enjoying the meal?


Ça me plaît!
I like that


Q&A

Stuart

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2018

1 reply

I thought I would see a reference to the phrase everyone would know in this lesson, namely «s’il vous plaît»

Stuart

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2018

4/11/18

Pourquoi pas?

D

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2018

2 replies

Je confonds. "She likes this book. HINT: Use ''plaire''

Je confonds. Pourquoi  "Ce livre plait a elle" ne vas pas mais "ce livre lui plait" correct? 

Merci

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 October 2018

18/10/18

Because plaire needs an indirect object and the indirect object of elle is lui. 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

18 October 2018

18/10/18

Hi D,

Ce livre plaît à elle is not correct French it is,

Ce livre lui plaît .

You could say: Ce livre plaît beaucoup à Elsa.

But if you use a pronoun it will need to be before the verb.

Take a look at the examples in the lesson for further explanation.

Hope this helps!

Stuart

Kwiziq community member

24 September 2018

3 replies

Can I use this construction with an infinitive as the "object" of the liking?

I know how to use aimer + infinitive to express liking.  J'aime manger!  Par exemple.  How about Manger me plait?   Probably not, but just wondering.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

27 September 2018

27/09/18

Hi Stuart, 

You can do but more in written form although the 'manger me plaît' seems a bit strange to me using this structure.

I think you would say: " J'aime manger"...

You might say, "Danser le tango me plaît énormément" ...

Hope this helps!

Stuart

Kwiziq community member

27 September 2018

27/09/18

Comme je crois.  Merci!

Stuart

Kwiziq community member

27 September 2018

27/09/18

J’ai voulu dire que j’ai cru ça.   N’est-ce pas?

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2018

3 replies

Plaire à vs aimer

Don't know about other people but I would really appreciate a section in the lesson on when to use "aimer" and when to say "plaire à". Great lessons individually on how to use these two expressions but not on when or why one is used instead of the other.  Merçi!

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2018

20/08/18

meant to say "plaire" not "plaire à"!

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

21 August 2018

21/08/18

Hi Marnie,

This is a good point... 

Because 'aimer' signifies to 'love' someone, the French will often steer clear of it or add 'bien' to indicate just a liking for a person .

The verb 'plaire' is widely used in French to indicate a liking for a  thing or a person and some students avoid it as it is a difficult passive construction but that's probably the one you will hear most often.

Here are a few examples to indicate the differences -

Ce cinéma me plaît = I like this cinema ( in other words, you like going there)

as opposed to,

'J'aime le cinéma' which means, you like/love films

The following sentences highlight the differences between the two verbs used to convey very different meanings -

J'aime Michel = I love Michel

J'aime bien Michel I like Michel 

Michel me plaît = I really like/ fancy Michel

which could be awkward !

Hope this helps!

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

21 August 2018

21/08/18

Thank you Cécile.  It does help in more ways than one!  I've been making mistakes in the quizzes because I didn't understand why and when one says "j'aime ..." as opposed to "j'aime bien..." which in English would be "stronger" than "j'aime".  Now I know!

Mary

Kwiziq community member

9 June 2018

1 reply

She likes me translates to: "Je lui plais."    Why isn't the pronoun  "elle" ?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

9 June 2018

9/06/18

Hi Mary,

In 'Je lui plais', for 'She likes me' , lui could replace both a man or a woman. You would know which from the context.

It is an indirect object pronoun which has to be used because the verb is 'plaire à '.

Have a look at the following lesson for more details-

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/my-languages/french/view/710

Hope this helps !

 

 

Sandra

Kwiziq community member

26 October 2017

9 replies

Why is this the correct answer? ‘Les peintures moderns lui plaisent.Why is there not

Sandra

Kwiziq community member

26 October 2017

26/10/17

I meant to add ‘Why is there not ‘à’ or an example of why the answer is correct in the lesson?’ Has something gone over my head?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

26 October 2017

26/10/17

Take, for example, the sentence "Je parle à Marie." -- I talk to Marie. And now take a look at "Je lui parle." -- I talk to her. You'll notice that the "à" has vanished. It's been absorbed into the pronoun "lui" which replaces an indirect object in a sentence.

"Les peintures plaisent à Pierre." -- Pierre likes the paintings.
"Les peintures lui plaisent." -- He likes the paintings (no "à" in this case).

I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker)

Ron

Kwiziq community member

26 October 2017

26/10/17

Les très bons exemples. Merci !

Sandra

Kwiziq community member

27 October 2017

27/10/17

Perhaps it would help to put Claus’ examples in the lesson. I’m sure I’m not the only one who found this confusing.

Sandra

Kwiziq community member

27 October 2017

27/10/17

Thank you very much Claus. It’s not entirely clear to me yet. However with your explanation I can work on where I am lacking background knowledge such as indirect objects:)

Ron

Kwiziq community member

27 October 2017

27/10/17

Bonjour Sandra, The other verb that uses the subject indirect object reversal is «manquer à». You might possibly find some clarity by taking a look at that verb. Sentence syntax is the same as for «plaire», i.e. the subject is the thing that pleases or is missed by the person represented by the indirect object.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

28 October 2017

28/10/17

To check if it is a direct or indirect object substitute a name for it (e.g., Marie, and don't worry if the sentence doesn't make much sense anymore). And if there is a preposition in front of the name, it is an indirect object. Otherwise it is a direct object. To wit, first in English: Lucy eats an apple. First, substitute Marie for the part in question: Lucy eats Marie. No preposition in front of Marie, hence a direct object. Lucy talks to me. Substitute Marie: Lucy talks to Marie. There is a preposition in front of Marie, hence an jndirect object. In French: Lucie parle à Marie -- indirect object. Lucie mange des pommes : Lucie mange Marie : direct object. -- Chris.

Sandra

Kwiziq community member

28 October 2017

28/10/17

Thank you Ron. Manquer à has always confused me to with regard to who is missing whom. So I’ll tackle both together until I wrangle the sense out of them!

Sandra

Kwiziq community member

28 October 2017

28/10/17

Thank you for the extra information Chris. I appreciate you taking the time.

James

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2017

2 replies

Is this passive voice?

In the sentence, "je plais à Luc", it would seem that "je" would be the subject and "Luc" the object, but in the translation, "Luc likes me", that is turned around and "Luc" is the subject and "me" the object. So the english translation doesn't feel passive but the french does.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2017

4/09/17

Bonjour James, Let me see if I can help answer this one for you or at least provide some insight. In the phrase «je plais à Luc» --> I am pleasing to Luc or I please to Luc (awkward phrase). Here is the lesson explanation in part: In French, you actually say plaire à [quelqu'un] (lit. to be pleasing 'to' [someone]) Le chocolat plaît à Martha. Note that the verb agrees with the object - the person or thing being liked, not the person who likes. One quick story here: When I traveled to Rouen, I had a guide whom I like a lot and she gave us very useful historical information. So at the end of the day trip as I was handing her the tip I told her: Votre présentation me plaît beaucoup, c'était très intéressante et instructive. (actually, I should have stated «m'a plu beaucoup»). The take-away is this, I was telling her that her presentation was pleasing to me a lot. But in French the correct syntax is: Votre présentation me plaît beaucoup --> Your presentation is pleasing to me. This is another example of a verb where the syntax changes like the verb «manquer à» but that is another lesson. J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera bien.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

6 November 2017

6/11/17

"Je plais à Luc" is literally translated as "I please Luc". Je = subject plais = verb (first person singular of plaire) à Luc = indirect object. The problem arises when you translate this sentence into proper English. You would say "Luc likes me" and here the roles of subject and indirect object are reversed. But this is due to the verb "like" which takes these things in opposite order and NOT due to the French being in passive voice. -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Stephen

Kwiziq community member

18 August 2017

2 replies

Ce restaurant plâit à nous . Cette veste plâit à Marie. Please could you explain to

One of these is correct . Please explain.

Stephen

Kwiziq community member

18 August 2017

18/08/17

Sorry I pressed the wrong buttons. I don't understand why one of these statements is incorrect. Can you help please?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

24 October 2018

24/10/18

Hi Stephen,

You cannot say, 

Ce restaurant plaît à nous. , it will be , Ce restaurant nous plaît.

You can however, say-

Ce restaurant plaît à Marie  because it is a named person .

When you use a pronoun it has to go before the verb.

Hope this helps!

zsuzsa

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016

1 reply

Bonjour,

zsuzsa

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016

4/11/16

I'm sorry, the message sender is playing tricks on me, so I'm sending my question as a Reply... Is it completely incorrect to say for example 'Je plais á mon copain' in the sense that 'My boyfriend likes me'? Merci, bonne journée

Dipika

Kwiziq community member

26 June 2016

1 reply

Is the sentence correct.. Le repas me plaît.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

28 June 2016

28/06/16

Bonjour Dipika ! Oui, this sentence is perfectly correct: Bravo !
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