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Expanding on a similar post about « taper sur » vs « taper », I have the same question here about how the intransitive « toucher à » compares with its transitive counterpart « toucher ».

Ne touchez pas à quoi que ce soit dans ce labo. Ça pourrait se ressentir sur mes résultats.

vs : Ne touchez pas quoi que ce soit dans ce labo. Ça pourrait se ressentir sur mes résultats.

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  • Ne touchez pas aux choses, ne me touchez pas. :)
    – Lambie
    Jan 5, 2017 at 23:59

2 Answers 2

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Moving my answer as well.

I'd say "toucher à" is used when you're not supposed to touch.

If you can break something, change settings on a software, etc. It even work for flirting with someone you're not supposed to : "Personne (ne) touche à ma copine, c'est compris ?".

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Ne me touchez pas. Don't touch me. Transitive. Ne touche pas la casserole. Elle est chaude. Transitive.

Ne touchez pas à ces papiers. Don't mess with these papers {touch, disturb, mess with, involve yourself with}

When it's the idea of mess with or involve yourself with: toucher à. Intransitive.

http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/toucher

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