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This question is a duplicate of:
About “unusual” word order?

In French, a common phrase is "tu me manques". Everything about this phrase seems to me, as an English speaker, to indicate that the person doing the missing is "tu", and the person being missed is "me" - the verb even agrees with the subject "tu". Therefore the translation would be:

You miss me.

However, the phrase seems to actually mean:

I miss you.

Why does French totally switch the subject and object in this sentence, and modify the verb to agree with the new subject? Is this just a one-off phrase where this happens, or are there other examples, and is there any good way to figure out when the subject and object have been switched like this or do you just need to learn by rote?

Corollary question: How do you actually say "you miss me" (using the tu form) in French?

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marked as duplicate by Evpok Feb 4 '12 at 12:54

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1 Answer

The exact construction is the expression "manquer à + qeulque chose/quelqu'un".

But:

Tu manques à moi

You are missing to me

Is not use that way. But we see that "tu" is subject and "moi" is a "complémenent d'objet indirect" which can be put in front of the verb like :

Tu me manques

I think the problem comes from how French and English see the verb and who is the subject. For the subject, you are looking for "who is doing the missing", but we are looking at "who is missing". That might have a link to the notion that you subject is always someone that can "do" the verb.

I do know you / "Je connais toi" / Je te connais

I do see you / "Je vois toi" / Je te vois

(Could we say in English something like : I do do my homework? seems weird :P)

But in French, the subject is the person "verb-ing" if I may say.

Who is seeing you: I. Who is knowing you : I.

In "I miss you" : Who is missing : you.

The subject "is missing", is not here. And he's missing to someone.

To solve your corrolary, you should say "Je te manque" which is saying "Je manque à toi" (I am missing to you)

I do not have any other verb in mind. The explanation is not very justified, but I hope it helps you clarify the situation.

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