I came across an expression "je m'ai engagé" and I want to know in what case(s) (if any), can avoir be used as auxiliary with reflexive verbs. Or this is probably a fixed expression?

  • 2
    Not really worth an answer, but that's something I've heard fairly often from some speakers in Belgium. Since Walloon and Picard exclusively use their equivalent of avoir as compound tense auxiliary, it's an aspect of their grammar that tends to be used in contexts where a Wallo-French mesolect is used rather than French, among family or in bars (Since it's a mesolect, other aspect of Walloon grammar are going to be used, so you're more likely to hear something like "Èdj' m'a engagé"). My grandmother sometimes slip into this usage in her French though. Dec 27, 2018 at 17:55

2 Answers 2


Si vous voyez un verbe réfléchi, comme « s'engager » et de nombreux autres, conjugué avec « avoir », c'est une erreur. Tous les verbes réfléchis utilisent « être » au passé composé, et la forme correcte est « je me suis engagé(e) ».

  • Good to know it's a mistake.
    – kwameGH
    Dec 25, 2018 at 8:35

The expression

*Je m'ai engagé

is broken French. Only Je me suis engagé is correct.

It is then unlikely to be heard from native French people but might be found in books where it is used to exaggeratedly exhibit the ignorance, lack of education of some character (je m'ai trompé is a typical similar sentence sometimes used humorously), or the fact he is a foreigner lacking the French basic rule that says pronominal verbs always use the être auxiliary.

Here are some examples of intentional usage:

Qui vous vend ce polard ? Mon néditeur, non ? Mézigue je m'ai engagé à rien, après tout. San-Antonio, Moi, vous me connaissez ?

Parce que je m'ai trompé de compte :)

See also https://french.stackexchange.com/a/17394/1109


Now we know what song this is about, let's have a look to its multiple mistakes:

Song words:

J'ai fait une promesse
La voie, le saule s'incline dessus du ruisseau,
Comme une personne qui se descend criant pour l'amant.
Me rappelle d'automne précédente, en révérence,
Je m'ai engagé, je m'ai engagé, je m'ai engagé à vous

Reverse translation:

I made a promise (correct!)
The lane, the willow leans top the brook,
Like a person who is descending herself shouting for the lover,
Reminds me from the previous autumn, in reverence,
I is committing myself, I is committing myself, I is committing myself to you.

The intended meaning is:

I made a promise
The way the willow leans over the brook
Like a person dropping down, crying for his lover
Reminds me of last autumn when, bowing down,
I pledged myself, I pledged myself, I pledged myself to you.

How it might have be written in French:

J'ai fait une promesse
La manière qu'a le saule pleureur de se courber au dessus du ruisseau,
Comme quelqu'un qui se penche, pleurant son amour,
Me rappelle l'automne dernier quand, m'inclinant,
Je me suis promis, je me suis promis, je me suis promis à toi.

Given the "false friends" (crier for "to cry") and the "dictionary" translation mistakes (like voie for "way"), this translation was made either by someone with a very light level in French or by some machine translation software which, in 1993, were in a very early stage compared to what they are able to achieve these days.

Google translate does quite a decent job:

J'ai fait une promesse
La façon dont le saule se penche sur le ruisseau
Comme une personne qui tombe, qui pleure pour son amant
Cela me rappelle l’automne dernier quand, en s’inclinant,
Je me suis engagé, je me suis engagé, je me suis engagé à vous.

  • I found the expression in the lyrics of a french song. Not sure whether the singer is native French but I believe so.
    – kwameGH
    Dec 25, 2018 at 8:32
  • As I wrote, despite being immediately spotted as incorrect French by native people, it is nevertheless sometimes intentionally used for humorous purpose.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 25, 2018 at 9:04
  • I found "je m'ai engagé" in Anathema's Serenades lyrics : darklyrics.com/lyrics/anathema/serenades.html but in that case, it is just broken French by a non native author. The whole song is barely intelligible and almost all sentences are broken.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 25, 2018 at 9:24
  • That's the song I was referring to! I was trying to translate it into English but then it proved to be a difficult task. I'm glad to hear that it's not standard French.
    – kwameGH
    Dec 27, 2018 at 8:46

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