If you’ve ever learned a new language, you’ll know that some words and phrases in one language don’t always have a direct translation into another. And today we’re going to dive into an example of that: “I Miss You” in French.
It doesn’t translate directly into English because of something known as a “subject-object inversion,” which is when the typical position of the subject and the object are switched.
Because of this, it can be pretty tricky to get the hang of, but luckily we’re going to jump right into how to remember the right translation of I miss you into French.
How to Say I Miss You in French
In English, we say I miss you to tell someone we miss being with them. In our sentence construction you’ll see:
Subject = I
Verb = miss
Direct Object = you
(P.S. If you need a refresh on direct and indirect objects and their pronouns, check out this article: French Object Pronouns.)
Compared to in French, where to say “I miss you,” you’ll say “Tu me manques.” In this sentence construction you’ll see:
Subject = Tu (you)
Indirect Object = me (me)
Verb = manques (miss)
Thus, notice how the subject here is “tu” (you) instead of “je” (I). This is that subject-object inversion that I was talking about earlier. So, when you see tu me manques, you might want to translate it to “you miss me,” but it’s really “I miss you,” because it actually translates to “you are missing from me.”
But, let’s dive a little deeper into why that is now.
Why Switch the Subject and Object in “Tu me manques”
This particular grammatical situation is also known as “fronting” and is used when you want to put the most important part of the sentence at the beginning. We all know the French are romantics, so it makes sense why you would want to put the person you’re missing in the most important position in the sentence.
We actually do this in English too. Let’s look at this example together:
I bought a new camera. And a very expensive camera it was.
I bought a new camera. It was very expensive.
How to Never Forget How to Say I Miss You in French
Typically, the second sentence is the most common word order. But by saying “a very expensive camera it was” instead of “it was very expensive,” you’re emphasizing the importance of the “expensive camera” in this situation.
The same is true in French. When you say, tu me manques, or “you are missing from me,” to say “I miss you” instead of je te manque (which translates to you miss me), you’re emphasizing the importance of the person you’re missing instead of yourself.
A few years ago there was a really adorable tweet going around the internet that went like this:
In French, you don’t really say “I miss you.”
You say, “tu me manques,” which is closer to “you are missing from me.”
I love that. “You are missing from me.”
You are a part of me, you are essential to my being.
You are like a limb, an organ, or blood.
I cannot function without you.
And the same is true for other forms of “I miss you.” Check out these examples.
- Chloé manque Paul. = Chloe is missing from Paul. = Paul misses Chloe.
- Tu nous manques. = You are missing from us. = We miss you.
- Il te manque. = He is missing from you. = You miss him.
Notice how the person being missed is always at the beginning of the sentence since in this situation they are highly valued.
Different Forms of Manquer in French
Grammatically, this sentence structure also makes sense in regard to the form of manquer that French speakers use here. This is because there are two forms of the verb “to miss” in French.
The first form is simply manquer, which translates to “to miss,” “to fail,” “to lack,” and “to be absent.”
Here are a few examples:
- J’ai manqué l’avion. = I missed my flight
- Tu as manqué ton frère. Il vient de partir. = You missed your brother. He just left.
- Dis-lui qu’elle manque les feux d’artifices. = Tell her that she’s missing the fireworks.
- Il manque trois élèves aujourd’hui. = Three students are absent today.
- Ce jeune boulanger manque d’expérience. = This young baker lacks experience.
The second form is manquer à quelqu’un, which means “to be missing from someone.”
This is why “tu me manques” really means “you are missing from me.” Here are a few more examples:
- Son père lui manque. = His dad is missing from him. = He misses his dad.
- L’été me manque. = Summer is missing from me. = I miss summer.
- Notre chien manque à mon père. = Our dog is missing from my dad. = My dad misses our dog.
How to Construct a Sentence With the Verb Manquer
So to summarize, follow this construction:
Who/what is being missed (subject) + manquer à (verb) + who is missing (indirect object)
So if you want to say, his mom misses him. You would translate it like this:
Subject = Who/what is being missed: He = Il
Verb = manque à
Indirect object = who is missing: his mom = sa mère
Il manque à sa mère.
Or when the object is an indirect object pronoun, follow this construction:
Who/what is being missed (subject) + who is being missed (indirect object pronoun) + manquer (verb)
So if you want to say, we miss her. You would translate it like this:
Subject = Who/what is being missed: Her = Elle
Indirect object = who is missing: we = nous
Verb = manque
Elle nous manque.
Other Ways to Say “I Miss You” in French
I miss you so much in French
Tu me manques beaucoup.
I love and I miss you in French
Je t’aime et tu me manques.
How to Respond to “I Miss You” in French
Tu me manques aussi.