When you’re learning French, you’ll almost certainly make friends that live far away from you. Whether they’re pen pals, online study partners, or old travelling buddies, sometimes there are literally oceans between you and the person you’re speaking to. When that happens, you might find yourself wondering how to say I miss you in French. If so, this article is perfect for you!

Tu me manques. Simple, right?

I miss you in French is translated as tu me manques.

Because saying I miss you tends to imply a degree of familiarity, we mostly opt for the tu form of you in this construction. However, it’s certainly also possible to say vous me manquez if you’re looking for a degree of formality, or addressing multiple people. If you’re not sure which to use, you can always refer back to our explanation of tu vs vous for more detail.

Generally though, you’ll be using tu me manques. Nice and straightforward, right? Well, not quite! When you break it down, tu me manques gives us plenty to explore, and leaves lots of room for confusion for native English speakers. As a construction, it looks and behaves quite differently than we might expect with most verbs.

At first glance, you might notice that the pronouns are in a different order from what you use in English. If you’re familiar with French subject pronouns, you’d be forgiven for thinking the translation of I miss you in French would look more like “je manques tu.” Instead, everything in the sentence is backwards! Rather than I miss you, it’s looking more like you me miss. To a native English speaker, the subject pronoun, object pronoun, and verb seem all mixed up.

The verb “manquer”

To help us understand why the word order is so different, let’s start by taking a look at the verb manquer. As a regular -er verb, manquer is fairly easy to conjugate, as it follows the straightforward rules of French conjugation. Here’s the manquer conjugation table in indicatif présent:

je manque nous manquons
tu manques vous manquez
il, elle manque ils, elles manquent

 

Manquer can be translated as to miss in French, as well as to lack, to be absent, and to fail.

With these other potential translations in mind, let’s instead think of manquer as meaning to be absent. In this case, the unusual word order tu me manques becomes easier to understand: rather than I miss you, we can think of it instead as you are absent from me, or, more poetically, you are missing from me.

Reversing the subject and indirect object pronouns

When English speakers say I miss you, the subject pronoun of the verb (the person driving the verb) is the first person I. Meanwhile, the direct object pronoun (the person or object the verb is being done to) is the second person you.

However, this isn’t the case in French. I miss you in French falls under what’s known as subject-object inversion, which is the technical way to say that the positioning of the subject and object are switched around. This means that in French, you is the subject pronoun, while I ends up as the indirect object, becoming me as the object pronoun.

This can get quite confusing if we try to follow the English I miss you word order, but becomes much easier to follow if we instead translate tu me manques in English as you are missing from me. In this construction, it’s a bit clearer that you is the subject pronoun driving the verb, which is both why it appears first in tu me manques and why the verb manquer is conjugated to it (appearing as tu manques rather than je manque).

To sum this all up, to say I miss you in French, we use the following construction: subject pronoun (the person who is being missed) + indirect object pronoun (the person who is doing the missing) + manquer (conjugated to the subject pronoun).

Saying I miss you in French: Practice

Now that we understand the grammatical rules underpinning tu me manques, let’s take a look at some other examples of how to say that someone misses someone else in French.

Regardless of the subject and object, we’ll still simply apply the construction we saw above of subject pronoun + indirect object pronoun + manquer. You’ll see how in all these examples, manquer is conjugated according to the person who is being missed, rather than who is doing the missing.

Be sure to keep your French subject pronouns and French object pronouns clear when you build these statements! Here’s a refresher on the two pairs of pronouns to choose between here:

French subject pronoun French indirect object pronoun
je me
tu te
il, elle lui
nous nous
vous vous
ils, elles leur

 

Keep in mind that, just like in English with the object pronoun them, the gender becomes ambiguous for the third-person indirect object pronouns lui and leur. This explains our multiple possible translations for some of the following sentences:

  • Tu me manques. – I miss you.
  • Je te manque. – You miss me.
  • Je lui manque. – He misses me. – She misses me.
  • Il me manque. – I miss him.
  • Elle me manque. – I miss her.
  • Tu nous manques. – We miss you.
  • Nous te manquons. – You miss us.
  • Il nous manque. – We miss him.
  • Elle nous manque. – We miss her.
  • Nous lui manquons. – He misses us. – She misses us.
  • Ils te manquent. – Elles te manquent. – You miss them.
  • Tu leur manques. – They miss you.
  • Ils lui manquent. – He misses them (masculine). – She misses them (masculine).
  • Elles lui manquent. – He misses them (feminine). – She misses them (feminine).
  • Il leur manque. – They miss him.
  • Elle leur manque. – They miss her.
  • Ils nous manquent. – Elles nous manquent. – We miss them.
  • Nous leur manquons. – They miss us.

If you want to emphasize just how much you miss someone, you can also add a qualifier at the end.

  • Tu me manques beaucoup. – I miss you a lot.
  • Tu me manques tellement. – I miss you so much.

And of course, if you’re polite, you’ll want to know not just how to say I miss you in French, but how to say it back. In those situations, we use the word aussi, meaning also or too.

  • Tu me manques. / Tu me manques aussi. – I miss you. / I miss you as well.
  • Toi aussi, tu me manques. – I miss you too.

Conclusion: I miss you in French

There we have it! In this article, we’ve explored the ins and outs of how to say I miss you in French.

As we’ve seen, while it might look simple on the surface, this phrase carries a lot of hidden grammatical twists, making it an exciting construction to explore for French learners. It also gives some practice on using our French indirect object pronouns with the subject-object inversion construction!

You should now feel confident telling your much-missed French friend just how much you miss them. Or rather, since “cette personne te manque,” how much “they are missing from you!”

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