For "arrêtez", why isn't this "arrêtez-vous"? I have a feeling the "you" is implied, but for other sentences that give an authoritative order, "-toi" or "-vous" is added in front of the verb (like "Asseyez-vous sur cette chaise!" meaning "Sit down on this chair!"), so why not in this case?


2 Answers 2


For discussion on arrêter in particular, refer to Reflexive form of "arrêter" for habits

In your example of Asseyez-vous, vous is necessary because the imperative here is derived from s'asseoir, a reflexive verb, and a reflexive pronoun must be retained. (In the case of tu, it is changed to toi in certain situations.)

In general, however, it is not true that clauses that "give an authoritative order" (i.e. that are in the imperative) necessarily have a reflexive pronoun attached to the verb. If the verb in the imperative form is not reflexive, there will be no reflexive pronoun. (This may be more obvious if you rewrite these imperative clauses as declarative clauses.) For example:

  • Sauvez-moi de la mort qui m'attend ! (Save me from the death that awaits me!) Here, sauver is not used reflexively, and the clause is essentially the imperative form of Vous me sauvez …

  • Épargnez votre enfant ! (Spare your child!) Again, here, épargner is not used reflexively, and the clause is the imperative form of Vous épargnez votre enfant.

  • 1
    Somewhat of an incomplete answer, but my comment got too long and I need to go back to sleep. Hopefully I'll find something more satisfying with regards to arrêter later, or someone else will supplement there.
    – Maroon
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 9:02
  • 1
    Have a good nap! Pleasant dreams!
    – LPH
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 9:17
  • This argument of yours to the effect of justifying the non-necessity of a pronoun is obscure, not really making a point, that's what it seems to me anyway. The simple matter of it is that if the verb is not reflexive, adding a pronoun referring to the subject makes sense only if the "cod" or "coi" of the verb is the object or person represented by the subject; otherwise you introduce ambiguous notions, and construct a sentence that is incorrect from the point of view of syntax.
    – LPH
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 9:49
  • @LPH I interpreted the question as primarily about why not all imperative verbs are followed by a pronoun, so I’d wanted to give 1-2 different conceptualisations of my examples to try to make the logic of it more obvious (to me anyway).
    – Maroon
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 19:05
  • I see, the question should be taken as more essentially a comparison with all imperatives, as you do. According to what you say the rewriting makes it more obvious, but then in what does the correspondence prove anything since you declare at the outset that it is not true if the verb is not reflexive. Knowing that there is the declarative form "Vous me sauvez…" does not tell you that in the transformation a change shouldn't take place, such as adding a pronoun. Let's take the transformation "La maison est loin." → "La maison est-elle loin?". You do have an intrusive pronoun here.
    – LPH
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 0:52

There are two forms of the verb to take into account, the transitive (arrêter qqc) and the pronominal (s'arrêter). Both can be constructed with a completing infinitive introduced by "de" (ref.1, ref.2, ref.3).
You can see from those ngrams that the two forms exist for the following verbs: "travailler", "fumer", boire". The meaning is the same. However, usage has it that you don't say "Arrêtez-vous de fumer." (at least not much, if at all) and only "Arrêtez de fumer is found." (ref.4). Similarly, for "manger" only the transitive form is used ("Arrête de manger.", Arrête-toi de manger.", (ref.5)). Neither "Arrêtez-vous de manger." nor "Arrêtez de manger." are found and in the latter case this is understandable as le lack of familarity with the persons talked to proscribes formal injonctions; however "Arrêtez de manger." is correct.

When you are dealing with the verb "asseoir" or rather "s'asseoir" in the context you mention the big difference is that you don't have a choice, there is just one form, "s'asseoir".

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.