How To Tell Everyone That You're Leaving in French

Partir, S'en Aller, Sortir, Quitter and Laisser

Two businesspeople in boardroom watching businessman leave
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There are five different French verbs that mean "to leave." They are partir, s'en aller, sortir, quitter and laisser. These words all have different meanings, so for a non-native speaker, it can be tricky to understand which verb to use in which context. 

French Verb "Partir"

Partir means "to leave" in a general sense. It is the opposite of arriver, which means "to arrive."  Partir is an intransitive verb, meaning it cannot be followed by a direct object; however, it may be followed by a preposition with an indefinite object, which in this case will normally be the destination or point of departure.

Here are some examples using conjugations of the verb partir:

  • Nous partons jeudi. "We're leaving on Thursday."
  • Ils partent de Paris. "They're leaving (from) Paris."
  • Je suis parti pour le Québec. "I left for Québec."


In addition, partir is a euphemism for death:

  • Mon mari est parti. "My husband passed away."


French Verb "S'en Aller"

S'en aller is more or less interchangeable with partir but it has a slightly informal nuance of one going away/off, such as leaving a job after retiring. It can also mean "to retire" or "to die."

Examples using conjugations of s'en aller are below:

  • Ils s'en vont à Paris. "They're going away to Paris"
  • Je m'en vais, salut! "I'm off, bye!"
  • Va t'en! "Go away!"
  •  Mon père vient de s'en aller. "My father just retired" (or died, depending on the context of the sentence).

French Verb "Sortir"

Sortir means to " go out," "to get out of something," or "to get something out." It is the opposite of entrer (to enter) and can be transitive or intransitive.

A few examples of the use of sortir include:

  • Je sors ce soir. "I'm going out tonight."
  • Tu dois sortir de l'eau. "You have to get out of the water."
  • Nous allons sortir en bicyclette. "We're going out for a bike ride."
  • Il doit sortir la voiture du garage. "He has to get the car out of the garage."


French Verb "Quitter"

Quitter means "to leave someone or something." It is a transitive verb, meaning that it must be followed by a direct object.

It often indicates a prolonged separation, which is illustrated in these examples:

  • Ils quittent la France. "They're leaving France."
  • Il quitte sa femme. "He's leaving his wife."

The only exception to the direct object rule is when you're talking on the phone, in which case you might say "Ne quittez pas." which translates to "Don't hang up ."

French Verb "Laisser"

Laisser means "to leave something" in the sense of not taking it with/for oneself. This word is also a transitive verb, so similar to with quitter, you must have a direct object to complete its use.

  • J'ai laissé mon sac chez Luc. "I left my bag at Luc's house."
  • Laissez-moi du gâteau! "Leave me some cake!" (Leave some cake for me!)

Laisser can also mean "to leave someone alone." For example, if someone were to say "Laissez-moi tranquille!"  it would translate to "Leave me alone!" or "Let me be!"

Want to test your skills? Take the  test on these different French verbs meaning "to leave."