4

Après plusieurs tentatives, elle a finalement arrêté de fumer.

Après plusieurs tentatives, elle s'est finalement arrêtée de fumer.

Which one is correct, or both? If both are correct, is there a difference in meaning? This dictionary has the example s'arrêter de fumer.

2

Both are very common, and sound correct. However, it looks like the correctness of the second one could be in question.

CNRTL gives only this (non reflexive) example for arrêter de, and I did not see the reflexive s'arrêter de anywhere on that page:

  1. L'idée de revoir les lieux où s'était passée sa jeunesse l'exaltait sans doute, car tout le long du chemin il n'arrêta pas de discourir; ... Flaubert, Madame Bovary,t. 2, 1857, p. 130.

LBU, 14ème édition, 2008, accepts s'arrêter de with multiple examples from various authors, without commenting further than to say: "On dit aussi". For example:

Elle me reprenait sans s'arrêter de travailler (Péguy, Souvenir, p. 17).

Même les marins italiens s'étaient arrêtés de bouger (Le Clézio, Etoile errante, p. 202).

So, I would say that both forms are correct, even in writing, by now. I can see how the second one is "questionable": Péguy could have written elle me reprenait sans arrêter de travailler and it would have been the same, because, in the end, who is stopping? There is only one subject here, only one possibility for the subject who carries out the action of stopping. So, you could make a case that there is really no need for that s' in terms of clarity. Removing it is more concise, without any loss. On the other hand, the author might want to add that s', either to underscore who is doing the action, or to soften the expression.

I am adding some preliminary data from ngrams, that needs to be reviewed and criticized (I am very aware that I queried only for the infinitive forms)(the trend is the same for s'arrêter de fumer et arrêter de fumer):

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  • That's interesting. This dictionary has the example s'arrêter de fumer. – user11550 Feb 18 '17 at 4:22
  • Interesting. Yes, the expression is very common. I'll go back to CNRTL, I must have missed it. – Frank Feb 18 '17 at 4:23
  • It's not in CNRTL, but LBU has an interesting paragraph about it. BLU gives the reflexive form as familiar and spoken only, apparently. You have hit upon a really interesting question! :-) – Frank Feb 18 '17 at 4:26
1

Après plusieurs tentatives, elle a finalement arrêté de fumer.

This one is always correct: She quit smoking.

Après plusieurs tentatives, elle s'est finalement arrêtée de fumer.

That one is also commonly used but is ambiguous: She stopped smoking. It might be understood to mean she smoked continuously until she stopped.

Google NGram Google NGram

  • On dirait que nos recherches dans ngrams coïncident, en faveur de l'expression non réflexive. A vrai dire, je n'avais jamais fait attention, et j'aurais accepté "s'arrêter de fumer" sans problème. – Frank Feb 19 '17 at 2:55

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