Avoir l’air

Ça a l'air délicieux
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Essential French Expression

Meaning to look, seem, appear
Literally to have the air / look
Register normal
Pronunciation French sound files [ah vwar lehr]
IPA   [a vwaʁ lɛʁ]

Usage notes: Avoir l’air is a ubiquitous French expression for describing the appearance of a person or thing. It’s structurally similar to the English "to have an air of" but is more general and far more common. Avoir l’air may be followed by an adjective, noun, or verb.

Avoir l’air + adjectif = To look (adjective)

Ça a l’air difficile !   That looks difficult!
Ta fille a l’air triste.   Your daughter looks sad.
Cet homme a l’air fin.   That man looks like an idiot.
Cet immeuble avait l’air miteux.   That building looked seedy.

 Agreement with avoir l’air

The adjective needs to agree with the subject when the adjective is modifying him/her/it. However, when the adjective is modifying the word air itself, the adjective remains masculine singular to agree with it.

Par exemple…

Cette femme a l’air heureuse.   That woman looks happy (looks like she is happy).
Cette femme a l’air accueillant.   That woman looks welcoming (has a welcoming look).

Avoir l’air de + nom = To look like a (noun)

Il a l’air d’un flic.   He looks like a cop.
Elle a l’air d’une avocate.   She looks like a lawyer.

Avoir l’air de + infinitif

1) Avoir in present tense = to look like + present tense or present progressive.

Tu as l’air d’être pressé.   You look like you’re in a hurry.
Il a l’air d’étudier.   He looks like he’s studying.

2) Avoir in imperfect = looked like + past tense or past progressive.

Tu avais l’air d’être pressé.   You looked like you were in a hurry.
Il avait l’air d’étudier.   He looked like he was studying.

Synonymous verbs

 Related lessons

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Ça a l'air difficile

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