The expression “Tu me manques” is one of the most famous French expressions. People tend to think it’s quite a romantic or touching way to say that you miss someone. Find out why in today’s lesson.
Manquer is a tricky French verb. It can even be a little intimidating to use!
In French, instead of “I miss you,” we say “Tu me manques.” Literally, “you are missing from me.”
But why? How? Let’s take some time together and figure it all out.
Learning goals: This is what you’ll be able to do after watching this lesson
- Beginner: Become familiar with the French verb “manquer”
- Beyond Beginner: Master the use of the French verb “manquer”
Bonjour c’est Géraldine.
Bienvenue sur Comme une Française. C’est parti !
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Manquer means “to miss.” That verb has many meanings, though: to fail, to lack, to be absent…
Today, however, we’ll only cover the single meaning of “manquer” as in “Tu me manques” (= I miss you). I.e., the pain of nostalgia for a person, a place or a thing that’s not there.
Next time, we’ll cover the other French meanings (and synonyms) for manquer. There are plenty of them, and they’re quite elegant!
2) The construction of “manquer”
Manquer is a scary verb because its construction is all backwards!
For instance: “I miss you” becomes Tu me manques.
The subject becomes complement, the complement becomes the subject!
This might feel confusing at first, but that’s all there is to it. You just have to think in reverse!
A common trick you might find online is to think about “manquer” in French as the verb “to lack” (or “to miss from”) instead of “to miss.”
When you think of it this way, we have: “You are lacking from me.” (or “You are missing from me.”)
And that translates more literally to “Tu me manques.”
The full construction is: Manquer à [quelqu’un] (the person with nostalgia is the complement after “à”, and the person who’s not there is the subject.)
For example, “Pierre misses Jeanne.” becomes: Jeanne manque à Pierre.
And now, what about phrases with pronouns?
Well, the subject stays the same: it’s the person who’s not here. It can be “Tu”, “Vous,” “Il,” “Elle”…
When the complement (the person who feels nostalgia) is a pronoun, it comes between the subject and the verb, and looks like: “me” / “te” / “lui” / “nous” / “vous” / “leur”
Or for a simple example, with the singular “you”, you can follow the process:
1. I miss you
2. [“Tu manques à moi”] (“manquer à quelqu’un”, subject and complement are reversed) That sentence is still incorrect: the complement subject pronoun (moi) should be turned into the proper pronoun (me).
3. Tu me manques.
3) Let’s try!
You miss me (singular “you”) → [Je manque à toi →] Je te manque
You miss her (singular “you”) → [Elle manque à toi →] Elle te manque
You miss her (plural “you”) → [Elle manque à vous →] Elle vous manque
How to turn “subject pronouns” into “complement pronouns” : full table
Je (= I) → me (= me)
Tu (singular you) → te (= singular you)
Il (= he) → lui (= him)
Elle (= she) → lui (= her)
Nous (= we) → nous (= us)
Vous (= plural you) → vous (= Plural you)
Ils (= Masculine they) → leur (= Masculine them)
Elles (= Feminine they) → leur (= Feminine them)
(And don’t forget: the verb agrees with the subject!)
Can you translate the following examples? Try covering the answers and having a go yourself first. Do you understand why the translations looks like this?
We miss him. → Il nous manque.
They miss her. → Elle leur manque.
She misses us. → Nous lui manquons.
I miss them. (with feminine them) → Elles me manquent.
This works in all tenses, too!
Et toi ?
Écris une phrase avec “manquer” en français.
Write a French sentence with “manquer.”
For example, you can write: “Mon fils me manque depuis qu’il est parti vivre en Espagne.” (“I miss my son since he left to live to Spain.”)
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Allez, salut 🙂