How to Say "I Miss You" in French

Is It "Je Te Manque" or "Tu Me Manques"?

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The verb manquer means "to miss." It follows a different construction in French than it does in English and this can be very confusing for students. When you want to say "I miss you," would you say "je te manque" or "tu me manques"

If you went with "je te," then you fell victim to a common misunderstanding. Don't worry, though. You are not alone, and it can be a complicated matter that takes some time to get used to.

Let's explore how to properly use manquer to talk about missing something or someone.

IIs It "Je Te Manque" or "Tu Me Manques"

Quite often, when translating from English to French, we need to make a slight change in the word order. This is the only way the sentence will make sense in the way we intended.

Instead of thinking "I miss you," switch it to "you are being missed by me." That transformation gives you the correct pronoun/person to start with in French. And that's the key.

  • I miss you = you are being missed by me = Tu me manques
  • You miss me = I am being missed by you = Je te manque
  • He misses us = we are being missed by him = Nous lui manquons
  • We miss him = he is being missed by us = Il nous manque
  • They miss her = she is being missed by them = Elle leur manque
  • She misses them = they are being missed by her = Ils/Elles lui manquent

The Verb and Subject Must Agree

The second trick to using manquer correctly is to ensure everything is in agreement. You must keep in mind that the verb has to agree with the first pronoun because it is the subject of the sentence. 

It's quite common to hear the mistake: "je vous manquez." The verb manquer has to agree with the subject (the first pronoun), and manquez is the vous conjugationBecause the sentence begins with je, the correct conjugation is manque.

  • To say "you will miss him," it is "il vous manque" and not "il vous manquez."
  • To say "we miss you," it is "tu nous manques" and not "tu nous manquons."

Watch the Middle Pronoun

The middle pronoun can only be me (m'), te (t'), lui, nous, vous, or leur. In the previous constructions, manquer used an indirect object pronoun, and that is why the vous appeared.

Your only choices for the middle pronoun are:

  • me or m' for I
  • te or t' for you (of tu)
  • lui both for he and she (This one is tricky to remember because there is no elle nor la here.)
  • nous for us
  • vous for you (of vous)
  • leur for them (Both feminine and masculine and not ils nor elles.)

Manquer Without Pronouns

Of course, you don't have to use pronouns. You can use nouns, and the logic remains the same.

  • I miss Camille = Camille is being missed by me = Camille me manque

Note, however, that if you only used nouns, you'd have to add à after manquer:

  • Olivier misses Camille = Camille is being missed by Olivier = Camille manque à Olivier.

More Meanings for Manquer

Manquer also has other meanings, and the constructions are much easier because they mirror the English usage.

"To miss something," as if you missed a train. The construction is just like it is in English.

  • J'ai manqué le train - I missed the train.
  • In colloquial French, we'd say "j'ai raté le train."

Manquer de + something means "to lack something."

  • Ça manque de sel - It lacks salt.
  • This is the same as the English, "there is not enough salt ..."

Manquer de + verb means "to fail to do something." This is a very old construction and is not used often. You may run into it in writing, but that's about it.

  • Cette voiture a manqué de me renverser - this car almost ran me over
  • Nowadays, we'd use faillirCette voiture a failli me renverser.