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Se méfier – To be wary of

Se méfier – To be wary of

Today we’ll look at one of my favorite French reflexive verbs: se méfier. The reason I love this verb is that it has many translations including “to be wary of”, “to be suspicious of”, “to beware of”, “to not trust” and “to be careful”. Hence, you could easily use a lot of these translations in the example sentences below.

Se méfier

to be wary of

FrenchLearner word of the Day lesson: Se méfier = to be wary of

Verb breakdown

In French, the verb méfier is generally only seen in the reflexive from se méfier. The verb se méfier is comprised of the prefix (mis) and se fier (to trust). Hence, méfier is literally “to mistrust”.

Present tense conjugation

Je me méfie I am wary
Tu te méfies You are wary (singular, informal)
Il, elle se méfie He, she is wary
Nous nous méfions We are wary
Vous vous méfiez You are wary (plural, formal)
Ils, elles se méfient They are wary

Example sentences

The commonly used French impersonal expression il faut can translate to “it’s necessary” or “you have to”. I could have also translated this first example to “You have to be careful of these people”.

The grammatical stucture for this verb is: se méfier de + noun (to be wary of + noun).

Il faut se méfier de ces gens.

You need to be wary of these people.

Along the same line of thought, I could have translated this sentence to “I’m careful (or distrustful) of everybody”.

Je me méfie de tout le monde.

I’m wary of everybody.

In the imperative mood (used for giving commands), méfie-toi and méfiez-vous can translate to “watch out!” or “be careful!”.

Méfie-toi! Il est dangereux!

Watch out! He’s dangerous!

As an adjective, méfiant(e) translates to wary, distrustful, mistrustful and suspicious. I loosely translate it to cautious.

Elle était très méfiante et ne voulait pas ouvrir la porte.

She was very cautious and didn’t want to open the door.

Conclusion

Et voilà ! You now know how to use se méfier in French! Now check out our lesson on another useful reflexive verb se débrouiller, which means “to manage” or “to get by”.

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French word of the day: Se méfier - to be wary, not trust

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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