I encountered this while reading Astérix. The line of dialogue, uttered by Cleopatra to an architect building her a palace, is as follows:

Je te préviens, Numérobis, Amonbofis, ton concurrent, t'en veut beaucoup d'avoir été choisi à sa place pour construire le palais de César.

I understand this to mean "I should warn you that your competitor Numérobis wants very much to have been chosen instead of you to construct Caesar's palace."

However, the t'en is odd to me. Why not omit that and say à ta place instead? Is this really the best way to phrase that? I would never have known to write it that way.

  • 1
    En vouloir à quelqu'un se trouve dans tous les dictionnaires. À la/ta/sa/ place aussi.
    – None
    Apr 2, 2017 at 18:11
  • Colloquially, I often use the construction: "je t'en voudrai(s) pas si tu ...". Apr 2, 2017 at 18:28
  • 3
    @Laure you have to appreciate that it's not a simple matter to distinguish between cases where se/te/me/etc or en/y are present on their own merits from cases where they're forming an unfamiliar set phrase like en vouloir à quelqu'un. For instance, if in some context I saw the words t'en donne, my first thought would not be that it's a set phrase en donner à quelqu'un with an idiomatic meaning, but rather the more obvious interpretation that something is being given to someone. Same here. It did not occur to me to look this up as a set phrase. Apr 2, 2017 at 22:23
  • The citation is wrong, leading DRz into thinking Frank is wrong. He's only wrong of knowing Astérix too much. «Je te préviens, Numérobis, Amonbofis, ton concurrent, t’en veut beaucoup d’avoir été choisi à sa place...» Amonbofis is resentful at Numérobis, and Cléopâtre is warning Numérobis about it. Apr 6, 2017 at 23:13
  • Oh, right you are. That's my mistake. I'll edit it. Apr 7, 2017 at 0:04

2 Answers 2


This is a bit different. It means that “Amonbofis (your competitor) is resentful toward you”. En vouloir à quelqu'un means to be resentful.


"Il t'en veut" = "il te en veut" = "il en veut à toi", he is mad at you

"t'en" = "te en" = "envers toi" = towards/at you

But we cannot say "te en", which is why we replace it by "t'en".

Another example is "je t'en prie" for "if it pleases you" ("you're welcome").

In both case it is a sentiment (negative or positive) express towards you, at you.

Je te préviens, Numérobis, ton concurrent, t'en veut beaucoup d'avoir été choisi à sa place pour construire le palais de César.


I warn you, Edifis, your competitor, is really mad at you for having been chosen in his place to build the palace of Caesar.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.