I was a bit surprised to find out that while attendre takes a direct object, s'attendre takes an indirect object. E.g.

Je l'attends but Je m'attends à lui. Is it a widespread phenomena? Is there any pattern or is it necessary to memorize what kind of object each verb and its reflexive form expect?

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    I'm not sure I understand your question, I just want to be that annoying guy who says "Je m'attends à lui" isn't French. Sorry ! Dec 18, 2017 at 9:38
  • Thanks, what's the French translation of "I'm expecting him" as opposed to "I'm awaiting him"?
    – dimid
    Dec 18, 2017 at 11:13
  • @MonsieurTruite: I does sound correct to me, with the meaning “I expect him to be there”. Dec 18, 2017 at 11:25
  • @StéphaneGimenez J'ai peut être été un peu trop sévère dans ma réponse ; je voulais dire que je ne pense pas que nous utilisions cette phrase dans le moindre contexte. J'aurais plutôt dû dire que ça ne "sonne" pas très Français.. Dec 18, 2017 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


In French, you can translate

I'm expecting him.


Je l'attends.

The sentence "Je m'attends à lui." does not look like a valid French syntax. The correct syntax would be

Je m'attends à ce qu'il arrive bientôt.

which would translate too :

I'm expecting him to arrive soon.

  • Merci, so Je l'attends means both 'I'm awaiting him' and 'I'm expecting him'?
    – dimid
    Dec 18, 2017 at 19:13
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    Yes, both translation are correct. Note that "I'm awaiting him." is more formal. Therefore, it might be more accurate to say it translates too "I'm waiting for him." instead. Dec 18, 2017 at 19:32
  • I see, thanks. When googling I encountered je m'attends à toi, so I thought it's valid french.
    – dimid
    Dec 18, 2017 at 19:37
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    @dimid "Je m'attends à lui" is syntactically correct, just unidiomatic. For a more usual variant using the same verb valence, you could very well have someone enter a room, notice someone they didn't expect to be here (either because they expected someone else, or didn't expect anyone at all) and utter "Je ne m'attendais pas à toi" - i.e. "I didn't expect to see you here". Dec 18, 2017 at 23:50
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    @dimid "Je ne m'attendais pas à le voir là" Dec 19, 2017 at 9:45

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