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Sorry this must be totally noob question, but I cannot find the answer anywhere. Are they prefixes or short form for something? What difference it makes to add or remove them? Like in the words m'importe and s'écroule.

I am adding the morphology tag, but I am not even sure it is about morphology or grammar.

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s’écroule

Is from the pronominal verb s’écrouler, in fact we should say se écrouler, like in se faire, se donner.

But because écrouler starts with a vowel, the prononciation is pretty hard, that's why se is shortened to s'.

m'importe

This is in fact a shorter version of importer à moi, which became me importer, and for the prononciation became m'importer

  • You will see the same phenomenon with “te” too e.g. je t’aime. Just a contraction! Also “ne” and “le/la.” – temporary_user_name Feb 5 at 17:24
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    Also de and que now that I think of it. Also ce, as in c'est. All these have different grammatical situations but the principal is the same, that of contracting with a subsequent word that starts with a vowel. – temporary_user_name Feb 5 at 18:31

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