Manquer

Unmissable French Verb

The regular -er French verb manquer means "to miss," which seems straightforward enough, and yet it causes no end of confusion due to a strange turnaround it requires in a certain construction.

Manquer + direct object

To miss = to fail to be at/in/on something

Par exemple…

Tu vas manquer le train !   You’re going to miss the train!
J’ai manqué la première réunion.   I missed the first meeting.

Manquer de + direct object

To lack something

Par exemple…

Il manque de respect envers son chef.   He lacks respect for his boss.
Cette salle manque d’ambiance.   This room lacks ambiance.

This construction can also be used with a noun: un manque de respect, un manque d’ambiance, etc.

Manquer de + verb

To fail to do something, to not do something that was expected. In this construction, manquer is a semi-auxiliary verb.

Par exemple…

J’ai manqué de faire le dîner.   I didn’t make dinner.
Paul a manqué d’aller à l’école.   Paul failed to go to school.

This construction is most commonly used in the negative to mean "to be sure to" – literally, "to not fail to":

Par exemple…

Ne manque pas de les remercier.   Be sure to thank them.
Ne manquez pas de visiter le musée.   Be sure to visit the museum.

Manquer à

To miss someone or something (emotionally), to be aware that something is missing.

  In French, the subject of the sentence is the person or thing who is missed, and the preposition à precedes the person or thing who is doing the missing and feeling the lack.

Par exemple…

      Literally
Fabienne manque à Pauline.   Pauline misses Fabienne. Fabienne is missed by Pauline.
Pauline manque à Fabienne.   Fabienne misses Pauline. Pauline is missed by Fabienne.

Manquer à is particularly tricky when pronouns are used for both the misser and the missee, as they are reversed in the two languages: in French, the indirect object misses the subject pronoun.

Par exemple…

      Literally
Tu me manques.   I miss you. You are missed by me.
Est-ce que je te manque ?   Do you miss me? Am I missed by you?
Elle nous manquait.   We missed her. She was missed by us.
Nous lui manquions.   She missed us. We were missed by her.
Vous allez leur manquer.   They’re going to miss you. You are going to be missed by them.
Ils vont vous manquer.   You’re going to miss them. They are going to be missed by you.
Quiz: Manquer

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Manquer - to miss


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3 Responses

  1. lisalu 2 May 2017 / 22:29

    Does “tu m’as manqué” only mean “I missed you” in an emotional sense, or does it also mean “I missed you” in the sense that I wasn’t here when you called, or something like that?

    • lkl 3 May 2017 / 4:07

      Great question – it’s just the emotional meaning. When talking about physical missing, manquer is used in the “normal” order: Je t’ai manqué. Or you can say Je t’ai raté or Je t’ai loupé.

  2. Upton Savoie 9 December 2014 / 13:50

    In French Canada, though, “Je te manque” means “I miss you.” My France-French son-in-law says it makes no sense, but it does to an Anglophone. Quebecois French seems always to be ignored by French teachers, although Americans are much closer to Canada than to France. An example (among many others) of the differences in the two forms of the language: “dejeuner” is lunch in France, but breakfast in Quebec.

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