“Je m’en vais !”
“Allez-vous en !”
These are all sentences that you’ve seen before in French movies, books, and songs… even if you didn’t quite notice them, or understand what they mean.
You likely already know aller, the French verb for “to go” (and much more!) It’s used everywhere in spoken French. But “Je m’en vais !” “Va-t’en !” or “Allez-vous en !” are even trickier. That’s because they use “s’en aller.”
Today, I’ll show you how to use it in everyday French conversation.
Bonjour I’m Géraldine, your French teacher. Welcome to Comme une Française! Today, like every Tuesday, I’ll help you get better at speaking and understanding everyday French. C’est parti !
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1) Aller (= to go)
In French, the verb “Aller” mostly means to go.
Its conjugation is irregular and, most of the time, you need to add something after it to make sense. Like:
“Je vais manger.” = I’m going to eat
“Tu vas à Paris.” = You’re going to Paris
“Elle va où ?” = Where is she going?
So, how do you use “to go” on its own? As in “OK, I’m going!”, or “It’s time to go” ?
You use “S’en aller” !
2) S’en aller : what does it mean?
This expression can seem strange. You’re probably wondering, what are all these small words for? What’s the first “s,” what’s “en” ?
Well, S’en aller is made of:
→ Aller = “to go” (verb)
→ S’ = “oneself / myself” (pronominal, reflexive pronoun)
→ En = “from here” (pronoun)
Together it means: “for oneself to go from here” = “to leave”
So, s’en aller means “to leave.” It’s that simple!
3) S’en aller : how you can use it
When you use S’en aller in everyday life, the subject, verb and pronominal “s’” all change, but not the “en” pronoun.
Je m’en vais.
= Je + pronominal “m’” (“myself”) + pronoun “en” + “aller” in the present (“vais”) = I’m going. / I’m leaving.
Tu t’en vas. = You’re leaving.
On s’en va. = We’re leaving. (familiar)
Nous nous en allons. = We’re leaving. (formal)
Vous vous en allez. = You’re leaving. (plural you)
Ils/Elles s’en vont. = They’re leaving.
Obviously, it’s much more fun and dramatic to use it in the imperative:
Va-t’en ! = Go away (singular)
Allez-vous en ! = Go away (plural)
But it’s quite rude, of course.
4) S’en aller : a synonym for “partir”
If S’en aller is too difficult for you to use, you can instead use Partir, which also means “to leave”.
Je m’en vais demain.
= Je pars demain.
= I’m leaving tomorrow.
Il s’en va déjà ?
= Il part déjà ?
= Is he leaving already?
Partir in the present makes:
Je pars [“parr”]
Tu pars [“parr”]
Il part [“parr”]
Nous partons [“parr-ton”]
Vous partez [“parr-tay”]
Ils partent [“parr-tt”]
Want to learn more useful French grammar?
Aller is a very useful French verb for beginners who want to learn conjugation faster — to build “le futur proche”, for example.
It’s also useful to cheer people on (with “Allez!”) and in everyday French greetings, such as “Ça va ?”. “Aller” is everywhere in everyday spoken French!
You’ll find out about those uses in this short playlist I prepared for you. Click each of the links below to discover even more lessons.
À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next lesson!
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Allez, salut 🙂