Are you wondering about the difference between “on se trouve” and “on se retrouve”? If so, you’re not alone — it’s a subtle, but very common, mistake.
The verb “se retrouver” is so weird! It uses both:
- The pronominal “se”
- The prefix -re
How do you use it? What are its different meanings? What’s the difference between “se retrouver” and “se trouver” ? Let’s find out, in today’s lesson.
I’m Géraldine, your French teacher. Welcome to Comme une Française.
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1) On se trouve
Se trouver is made up of se (reflexive pronoun) + trouver (to find).
The first meaning for “On se trouve” is: “We’re located in…” (literally, “We find ourselves in…”)
“Ça dépend d’où on se trouve.” = It depends on where we are.
This meaning of “se trouver” is always pronominal, and the pronoun changes to match the subject. For example, with “vous” we would say:
“Vous vous trouvez devant une maison très ancienne.”
= “You’re standing in front of a very old house!”
A second meaning for “On se trouve” is “we find ourselves [adjective],” as in “We think we are [adjective]” / “We feel [adjective].”
“On se trouve belles.”
= We think we’re pretty / We feel pretty.
For this meaning, you can change “se” to another reflexive pronoun to match the subject of your sentence. For example, if you’re only referring to yourself, you would say…
Je me trouve belle.
= I think I’m pretty / I feel pretty.
Or (for this meaning, again), you can also change the pronoun to refer to someone or something else:
On te trouve sympa. = We find you nice. / We think you’re nice.
Je nous trouve cools. = I find us cool. / I think we’re cool.
In French, “Si ça se trouve” also means “perhaps.”
Si ça se trouve, elle va chanter. = Perhaps she’ll sing.
2) On se retrouve
Se retrouver is similar to se trouver, but the prefix re- means “again”. So, on se retrouve is used for “we meet again” — or “we meet up.”
“On se retrouve chez toi ?” = Shall we meet up at your place?
“On se retrouvera !” = We’ll meet again!
Figuratively, “On se retrouve…” also means “we end up.”
On se retrouvera à Amiens si on continue. = We’ll end up in the city of Amiens if we keep going.
Et maintenant on se retrouve tout seul. = And now we end up alone.
On se retrouve à faire toute la présentation ! = We end up making the whole presentation!
That’s a common structure that you’ll often hear in everyday spoken French!
Would you like a more in-depth look at the verb “trouver,” specifically? (It’s a really complex verb.) If so, please tell me in the comments!
Go “behind the scenes” of French grammar:
– Explore another verbal expression that we use all the time in modern French: S’en aller
– Learn more about the prefix “re-” with my lesson, Never say “Bonjour” twice (in a day)
À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next lesson!
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