I saw the sentence

« Le président rappelle l'importance des gestes barrières ». The translation that came with it is “The president recalls the importance of barrier gestures”. I don’t know if the translation is correct because I saw this pair of sentences on a forum but if it is, I would like to ask the question

does « Jake rappelle qch » mean “Jake recalls something” ? By recall I mean “Jake brings something to mind and also this something is any noun.

Btw, my level is beginner so if you are going give an explanation, please make it as simple as you can. Thank you!!! :)

2 Answers 2


Rappeler does mean recall / bring something to someone else's mind here. It can have other meanings depending on the context, like to call back.

Here are some common usages:

Rappeler quelque chose (à quelqu'un) → To remind sth (to someone)
Rappeler quelqu'un → To call back someone
Rappeler quelqu'un à l'ordre → To call someone to order
Se rappeler (de) quelque chose → To remember something
Se rappeler (de) quelqu'un → To remember someone

  • 1
    Isn't "Recall" = "Se rappeler" when it comes to thinking?
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 16:14
  • @LaurentS.Indeed, I mixed up meanings. Thanks.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 17:14
  • @jiliagre So, just to confirm: (1) « Jake rappelle qch » means “Jake is bringing sth to sb else’s mind” but that sb else isn’t mentioned. It’s just implied that THAT SB is there. (2) « Jake se rappelle qch » means « Jake is bringing sth to his own mind. Is this correct?
    – SFR
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 22:39
  • @CubbyKushi Yes to both. In that sentence, the persons for whom the message is intended are not mentioned. Se rappeler (de) quelque chose is close to se souvenir de quelque chose and means to remember something
    – jlliagre
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 22:54
  • Thank you so much for your help @jiliagre ! :)
    – SFR
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 12:22

No, that is not the meaning of "rappeler" here. The meaning is "to remind". As "to remind" is transitive an object must be added.

  • The president reminded everyone of the importance of barrier gestures.
  • The following is off-topic, as you have, imo, correctly identified the pertinent notion: "to remind" but mightn't the present tense of rappeler in the French version be better translated w/the present continuous than w/the past in English? "The president IS REMINDING [us] of the importance of barrier gestures (protective measures). The simple present of remind would be weird here (w/out adding something like "reminds us DAILY") but it works if the message was changed to "That president reminds us of a pear-shaped orange" (hopefully the past tense will soon be appropriate for that version).
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 21:45
  • @PapaPoule 1/ I don't think the present would be so weird at face value but I need some reassurance and, apparently, I get it from ACGOTEL (Quirk et al); here is what this reference tells us. A very different use of the present tense in reference to the past [i.e. different from the usual historic present] is that found with verbs of communication [and "remind" is such a verb I believe]: ex. The ten o'clock news says that there is going to be a bad storm. Martin tells me the Smiths are moving from N° 20. [it goes on] Such verbs include (1/5)
    – LPH
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 23:23
  • @Papaoule also verbs like "understand", "hear" and "learn", which refer to the receptive end of the communication process: ex.I hear that poor Mr Simpson has gone into hospital. [Moreover what's next answers another part of your question] These sentences [the ex. given] would also be acceptable with the simple past or present perfective; but the implication of the present tense seems to be that although the communication event took place in the past, its result--the information communicated--is still operative. (2/5)
    – LPH
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 23:24
  • @PapaPoule 2/ In reference to your remark that "reminds us DAILY" is effective [this is the habitual present], I think I can add something worth considering: because of this special possibility of referring to the past by means of the present for verbs of communication, there is a possible overlap with the use of the same present tense in the habitual present; however, ACGOTEL tells us that "[i]t is a sign of the habitual present that one can easily add a frequency adverbial to specify the frequency of the repetition.". I can now add this: "With verbs of communication,(3/5)
    – LPH
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 23:24
  • @Papaoule this addition becomes a way to resolve the ambiguity. (continuously, often, etc.)". 3/ As regard your main claim [the continuous present being preferable] I again find the possibility quite natural; it seems to me it could be used and that the main characteristic of that aspect--the continuation into the present--is tantamount to the idea of the communication being operative at the present moment when the simple present is used with verbs of communication for events in the past. However, I get no back up for that. 4/ We can say that the last sentence is effective (4/5)
    – LPH
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 23:27

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