I said to a French person

Tous les mots en français semblent pareils quand parlés

But he corrected me to say

Tous les mots en français me semblent être pareils quand parlés

Why do I have to say "Se sembler être" instead of just "Sembler"?

Is there a certain rule for this?


First of all : Quand parlé(s), although correct, is not the best way of saying this. In France (I don't know about Quebec or other french-speaking countries though), the most idiomatic and frequent way of saying this is à l'oral. So you sentence would be :

Tous les mots en français me semblent être pareils à l'oral.

You can even improve the sentence by saying :

Tous les mots en français me semblent être pareils à l'oral.

But this is all another story. Now back to the topic.

Consider the same sentence in english :

All french words seem alike to me when spoken.

If you just used semblent without me, it would be exactly like if you removed the to me from the above sentence. Which would make this statement a general truth : to everyone, french words seem alike.

However, what you mean is that to you - and only to you -, the words really sound the same. That's why you have to refer to yourself using me.

Now the person you told this to could say :

J'ai parlé avec Marco, et il m'a dit que tous les mots français lui semblent pareils à l'oral.

He or she could also ask you :

Est-ce bien toi qui m'a dit que tous les mots français te semblent pareils à l'oral ?

So as you see, this has nothing to do with the verb se sembler, which doesn't even exist. This is just used to avoid making the sentence a general statement by "linking" it to the person for who it is true.

Here is all the words that can be used here depending on the subject :

  • je -> me
  • tu -> te
  • il/elle -> lui
  • nous -> nous
  • vous-> vous
  • ils/elles -> leur

I hope I helped you ;)

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you! But an additional question :) Why did you add "Bien" there? – Marco Ruben Abuyuan Llanes Nov 15 '16 at 22:50
  • This is an idiomatic way of asking for confirmation when you think the answer is yes but are not totally sure. For example I could ask you : Ton prénom, c'est bien Marco ?, because according to your username I am pretty sure it is, however this is not 100% sure : you could be using a fake name. – Ctouw Nov 15 '16 at 23:00
  • 1
    Could “se ressembler” be used to express the idea of a general truth with:… “Tous les mots français se ressemblent à l'oral » (without having to include pareils ? If so, could you fit a me somewhere in it to narrow it to “to me” or would something like “D’apres moi” be required? Thanks and +1 – Papa Poule Nov 15 '16 at 23:29
  • @PapaPoule Yes, se ressembler is a very good option - actually this is what I'd use. I'd say : Je trouve que tous les mots français se ressemblent à l'oral, or maybe Pour moi, tous les mots français se ressemblent à l'oral. – Ctouw Nov 16 '16 at 8:20

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