They all sound the same to me. What could be the difference if there is any?

  • j'ai tombé,
  • je me suis tombé,
  • je suis tombé.

1 Answer 1


The most common use of tomber is an intransitive verb:

  • Je suis tombé (de la chaise). 1
  • Je suis tombé (par terre).2

In Classical French tomber was sometimes used in this sense conjugated with *avoir. It is now outdated and considered "bad" French (at least in France), although some people say it, especially young children who can't speak properly yet, but they're always corrected at school (and by parents).

Tomber is correctly used with avoir as a transitive verb, for instance:

  • Il faisait tellement chaud que j'ai tombé la veste.3

and in some phrases like:

  • Il a tombé son adversaire. 4
  • Il a tombé le masque.5

I have never heard je me suis tombé, although it seems to be a "mistake" some people make, but I have no idea where.

References: TFL, BDL

1. I fell off the chair.
2. I fell on the floor.
3. It was so hot I slipped off my jacket.
4. He vanquished his opponent.
5. He took off his mask.

  • Je me suis tombé would follow for the transitive use, though, wouldn't it? To cause oneself to fall? For whatever little use such an expression might have...
    – Luke Sawczak
    Aug 3, 2017 at 13:23
  • @LukeSawczak Not sure I get what you mean, we'd never say je me suis tombé. Je me suis laissé tomber would be used as for instance: je me suis laissé tomber par terre (I let myself fall onto the ground, I dropped). Faire tomber exists as well: J'ai fait tomber la bouteille et elle s'est casée (I dropped the bottle).
    – None
    Aug 3, 2017 at 13:59
  • I meant that if you can say "J'ai tombé mon adversaire", you could presumably tomber yourself as well. But then again, the possibility of an expression doesn't always translate to its actually being said...
    – Luke Sawczak
    Aug 3, 2017 at 14:09
  • J'ai tomber mon adversaire is accepted but not common. I can't imagine anyone using it for yourself. How can you be your own opponent? Doesn't make sense to me.
    – None
    Aug 3, 2017 at 14:13
  • @LukeSawczak I'd expect most occurence of je me suis tombé to be analogical expansions of the reflexive. Tomber is one of the few verbs of change of position that isn't normally used reflexively. (Its synonyms are: Je me suis planté, je me suis vautré, etc.). I'm genuinely surprised it isn't more common than it is, actually. Aug 3, 2017 at 16:26

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