Manquer: Synonyms and French Expressions

Manquer is a tricky French verb. Most famously, “I miss you” becomes in French “Tu me manques.” The subject and complement are backwards!

Beyond that one difficulty, “manquer” is also a very elegant verb. There are lots of expressions that use the verb, which you can use to sound more French, even to the French.

Today, let’s focus on those.

Learning goals: This is what you’ll be able to do after watching this lesson

  • Beginner: Master the “I miss you” translation
  • Intermediate: Use synonyms of “manquer
  • Advanced: Use expressions with “manquer”

Bonjour c’est Géraldine.
Bienvenue sur Comme une Française. C’est parti !

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1) Manquer à quelqu’un

Manquer à quelqu’un” is the expression behind “Tu me manques” (= “I miss you”).

We talked about this expression in detail in my last lesson: the grammatical meaning, the mental tips, the pronouns…

Check it out, especially if you’re a beginner in French. Then you can move on to today’s lesson.

2) The many meanings (and synonyms) of “manquer”

Manquer can be used for l’absence (= the absence, the lack of something).

In case you forget, that’s the meaning behind “Tu me manques” (= I miss you / Your presence is lacking for me)

When used in this way, some synonyms for “manquer” are être absent (= to be missing) or faire défaut (= to be lacking).

For example: Il te manque 2 points pour réussir ton examen. (= You’re missing 2 points to pass your exam / You’re 2 points short of passing your exam.)

Je manque d’argent / L’argent me manque / L’argent me fait défaut = I’m lacking money, I’m short on funds.

In a related meaning, manquer can also convey l’échec (= failure), in an elegant way.

In that sense, its synonyms can be rater (= to miss / to fail) or louper (= just like “rater” but more familiar.)

For example:
J’ai manqué la cible / J’ai raté la cible / J’ai loupé la cible (= I missed the target.)

J’ai manqué mon train / J’ai raté mon train / J’ai loupé mon train (= I missed my train.)

J’ai manqué le cours de la dernière fois. (= I missed class last time.)

If you miss class on purpose, we use sécher (= to skip) / sécher les cours (= to skip classes.)

Quand j’étais jeune, je séchais les cours. (= When I was younger, I used to skip classes.)

3) 5 Expressions with “manquer”

Manquer is used in a lot of (often elegant) French expressions. I covered the topic in depth in a recent live-lesson and Q&A in “Le Salon de Géraldine”.

Here are 5 French expressions with manquer you can use in everyday conversation.

A. Ne pas y manquer (= Won’t fail to do so) / Ne pas manquer de [faire] (= Won’t fail to [do something]) = “Will do so”, in a roundabout, elegant way.

For example:
Appelle-moi demain ! / Je n’y manquerai pas.
Call me tomorrow! / I won’t fail to do so.

Je suis sûre que vous ne manquerez pas de régler cette affaire.
I’m sure you won’t fail to resolve this issue.

B. Manquer à l’appel (= “To miss the roll call” literally, = “To be missing” figuratively)

For example:
Seul Julien manque à l’appel, nous sommes inquiets.
Only Julien is missing, we are worried.

C. Ne pas manquer d’air (= “don’t lack air” literally, = “to have some nerve,” to be excessively, frustratingly bold)

For example:
Paul m’a demandé de lui avancer l’argent pour son cadeau. Il ne manque pas d’air !
Paul asked me some money as an advance on his gift. He has some nerve!

(Synonyme: Il est gonflé !, literally “He’s inflated”, He has some nerve!)

D. Manquer de respect = to disrespect, to show disrespect

For example:
En me parlant comme ça devant tous les collègues, le chef m’a manqué de respect.
By talking to me like that in front of all my colleagues, the boss was disrespectful to me.

E. Manquer une belle occasion de se taire = “To miss a good occasion to stay silent” = to talk too much, in an especially sensitive situation

For example:
En révélant cette histoire à tous ses collègues, Michel a vraiment manqué une belle occasion de se taire !
By sharing this story with all his colleagues, Michel really missed a good occasion to stay silent!

In that expression, we can also use the synonym: Rater une belle occasion de se taire


What did you learn from today’s lesson? Let’s have a little quiz to fix this knowledge down.

How would you say in French:

  • To have “some nerve”
  • To skip (class)?
  • A familiar synonym for manquer”?



(Answers: “ne pas manquer d’air” / “sécher” / “louper”)

Et toi ?

Write one sentence with a synonym or expression from this lesson in the comments below.

For example, you can write: “Je ne manquerai pas de télécharger le PDF de la leçon sur le site de Comme une Française” (“I won’t fail to download the PDF of the lesson on “Comme une Française’s website”)

Want to save this for later ?

And now:
→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Allez, salut 🙂

Join the conversation!

  • J’ai séché le cours de pilates car j ‘étais trop fatiguée
    On déjeunera ensemble demain? Je n’y manquerai pas

  • Merci pour cette leçon qui est très utile. Je ne manquerai pas de regarder la prochaine vidéo. Grâce à Bill, j’ai appris un nouveau mot en anglais: manqué. Merci!

  • Bonjour Géraldine merci beaucoup pour cet leçon. Je n’y manquerai pas le prochain leçon.
    Bonne journée

  • Merci Géraldine. Mon chat est le chef de la maison. Il bat le chien quand il dort, alors il ne pas manquer d’air!

  • Stay tune to Génraldine’s everyday/everyday week episodes on YouTube commeunefrançaise I assure you your French will never remain the same.

    Géorge k.

  • J’ai un tout petit pot en céramique que j’ai acheté au vide grenier dans une village française. Sur le pot se trouve ses mots: ” qui trop embrasse manque le train.” C’est trop mignon, oui?

  • In English we sometimes use the French word “manque” attached to an occupation, using the definition of “to lack,” in the sense that a person either lacks ability, is just faking it, or is some kind of “wannabe.” For instance, he is a “politician manque” or a “writer manque.” It means he’s either a lousy politician, or maybe a politician wannabe who isn’t very good. Or he just thinks he’s a politician, when he isn’t. A “writer manque” could be someone who wants to be a writer (or claims to be), but also isn’t very good. One usually hears it attached to actors and actresses: She is an actress manque means she’s either a wannabe or just not good at it. But it isn’t all that common in English, and a lot of Americans don’t know the phrase. But it comes from you manquer. The best English definition is “wannabe,” but I have no clue what the French equivalent would be. Comment dites-vous, “He’s a wannabe” en francais?

    • New expressions to me, in which part of the World have you heard “Politician manque” and “writer manque” ? Never heard them used in the UK…

    • In the UK it has the opposite meaning to the USA
      It is rarely used in the UK, but it means someone who had the talent to be something, but did not do it, like an actor manqué, is someone who would have been a great actor…

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