1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. Translation of Il Me Manque


Translation of Il Me Manque

Hello, can anyone explain how "il me manque" means I miss him"? Why not "je le manque"?

Thanks in advance Joanne

August 13, 2017




Answered in top few comments. Kind of means he is missing from me.

like me gusta means it pleases me


Thank you, I clicked on the link, read a few and learned a lot.........much appreciated. I am much clearer now.


A shorter discussion here, where I tried to explain that simply: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23952687

Miss = manquer

But 'Il me manque' does not mean 'He misses me', because here, 'me' is an indirect object. It can also be a direct object when 'manquer' does not mean 'long for'.

The problem is that 'me, te, se, nous, vous, leur' can be direct or indirect objects. You have to guess from the context if they are direct or indirect.

If you are the one speaking, 'Il me manque' = 'Il manque à Joanne' (he is missing to Joanne) and not 'Il manque Joanne' (he misses Joanne). So, because 'me' is here an indirect object, you have to translate the sentence into: 'I miss him/Joanne misses him'.


Marc50 although I am a native English speaker I never had to learn English grammar until I decided to learn French, as it was something I assimilated from the repeated use of the language. However, your explanation really brings it home to me why "il me manque" means "I miss him", but I am wondering why the same principle doe not appear to apply for "il m'aime", which is translated as "he love me".I would appreciate any further light you could shed this.

Thanks in advance.


As I said in my first comment, 'me' can either be a direct or an indirect object. That is unfortunate, I know. :)

In 'il m'aime', 'me' (contracted into m') is a direct object, because 'aimer' is a transitive-direct verb: 'aimer à' [sb/sth] does not exist; there is only 'aimer' [sb/sth].

To be clearer, I will use sentences that are not grammatically correct, with 'moi' instead of 'me'.

  • Il m'aime = il aime moi (direct) = he loves me
  • Il me manque = il manque à moi (indirect) = (literally) he misses to me = I miss him

The confusion is only possible with transitive verbs that can be both direct and indirect, like 'manquer' ('manquer' and 'manquer à').

I can take another example: both 'speak' (EN) and 'parler' (FR) can be intransitive, transitive direct or transitive indirect. However, if there is 'me' in the French version (ex: 'il me parle'), 'me' can only be an indirect object, because you cannot 'speak someone', you only 'speak to someone'. This time, it is the same thing in French: we do not say 'parler quelqu'un', but 'parler à quelqu'un'. So:

  • Il me parle = il parle à moi = he speaks to me

I do not think you would have translated 'il me parle' into 'he speaks me'. You know 'he speaks me' is impossible in English, so you can easily guess that 'me' is actually an indirect object in the French version.

The difficulty with 'il me manque', is that you have to guess 'me' is an indirect object. If the meaning is 'long for', then it is indirect in French, so you can first translate the phrase literally in a first time, 'he misses to me', then you fix it: 'I miss him.'

I only go into these details because it applies to other verbs. Otherwise, you would only have to remember that 'manquer' and 'miss' are opposite when they mean 'long for'. It would work, but that is not a valid explanation. The true reason is that in French, when we want to say 'long for', we use an transitive-indirect verb, 'manquer à', and you cannot really do that in English, so you have to reverse the sentence and use the transitive-direct verb 'miss' instead.

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.