Why You're Saying "to Fall in Love" Wrong in French

"Tomber en Amour" Is Not How to Say "Fall in Love"

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Does tomber en amour really mean "to fall in love" in French? If we use the literal translation, yes it does. However, the proper way to say it is tomber amoureux. This is one of those common mistakes that French students make and there's a good reason why it's not quite correct.

Why "To Fall in Love" Is Not Tomber en Amour

Translating common English phrases into French can be tricky at times. What is understood in one language, may have a slightly different meaning in the other if you try to use a direct translation.

This is where we find ourselves with the phrase "to fall in love."

  • Right: Tomber amoureux
  • Wrong: Tomber en amour

Why is this? Tomber en amour is the literal translation of "to fall in love." Tomber means "to fall" and amour means "love" so in all logical sense, this is correct, right?

The English expression makes love sound like a puddle – or maybe a hole in the ground – that people can fall into and out of. In French, however, love is a state of being, so you "fall loving" rather than "in love."

For example, a complete sentence would look like this:

  • Je suis tombé amoureux de Françoise!
  • I've fallen in love with Françoise!

You will notice in that sentence the use of amoureux de. This is where we get "in love with." Amoureux is the adjective that expresses "in love" or "loving" and de implies "with."

Here is an example in the past tense. Do notice how both tomber and amoureux have changed with the tense and subject. They back up the fact that this has already happened.

  • Elle est tombée amoureuse de Jacques. 
  • She fell in love with Jacques.

Expand Your French Use of "Love"

It's said that French is the language of love and, indeed, it is a romance language. While you're in the mood for a little amour, be sure to brush up on how to properly say "I love you" as well.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Why You're Saying "to Fall in Love" Wrong in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, thoughtco.com/tomber-en-amour-french-mistake-1369493. Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Why You're Saying "to Fall in Love" Wrong in French. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/tomber-en-amour-french-mistake-1369493 Team, ThoughtCo. "Why You're Saying "to Fall in Love" Wrong in French." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/tomber-en-amour-french-mistake-1369493 (accessed June 1, 2023).