Is there a difference between the following two sentences?

a) Elle cherche un emploi.
b) Elle se cherche un emploi.

(I saw sentence B in a youtube video, and I generated sentence A using deepL translator)

I know from the answer to this question, "se" can sometimes be added for emphasis:

In ["Je m'aggripe à Tom"], the subject (me) attach the primary object (me) to secondary objet (Tom). I could have juste said "J'agrippe Tom", but by using a pronoun I created an emphasis on myself, indicated that I really latched on him.

That is, it seems like "J'agrippe Tom" and "Je m'aggripe à Tom" have similar meanings. Am I allowed to do this with any verb that takes a direct object? for example: Je mange une pomme --> Je me mange à une pomme?

edit: a user suggested that Concerning Reflexive Pronouns might answer my question. i could benefit from someone making it more clear how that information answers my questions above.

the linked question gives many examples of pronomial verbs (classifying different types of pronomial verbs, and the ways that the subject is (by degrees) "acted upon" by someone else or by themselves), but it doesn't give examples of verbs that can sometimes take a "se" and sometimes not. i don't understand what difference (if there is any) between "se chercher" and "chercer".

  • Does this answer your question? Concerning Reflexive Pronouns
    – jlliagre
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 8:56
  • @jlliagre: i looked through the accepted answer to the question you linked to, but i don't know how to use that information to understand the difference between se chercher and chercher, nor if i'm able to add a "se" for emphasis. it still was a useful link for me to read, though.
    – silph
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 9:13

1 Answer 1


Je me mange une pomme is a case of "autobenefactive" form. It is considered informal outside regions where it is very common (Southern France).

Je me cherche du travail/un emploi is more usual because while you can't eat an apple for someone else, it is still possible to look for a job for someone else (e.g. Je cherche du travail pour mon fils.)

However, if you just say elle cherche un emploi without more precision, everyone will assume she is doing it for herself so elle se cherche un emploi can be considered slightly redundant but nevertheless common, especially in Canadian French. Regardless of the grammatical difference, there is no difference in meaning between je cherche du travail et je me cherche du travail.

Agripper is transitive direct: J'agrippe son bras.

When used pronominally, the direct object is the reflexive pronoun me so son bras becomes a complément d'objet second and requires the preposition à: Je m'agrippe à son bras, i.e. literally "J'agrippe moi à son bras".

On the other hand, while manger is also transitive direct, me is not the direct object because I do not eat myself here. It is still the apple that is eaten so the apple stays the direct object: Je me mange une pomme, i.e. "Je mange une pomme (pour/à) moi".

  • so, is it possible to add a "se" to any verb that can be done "for someone else" or "for the benefit of someone else"? would you be willing to add some more example sentences where an added "se" is allowed (or not allowed) ? (and indeed, i saw "elle se cherche un emploi" from a Québecois journalism youtube video about poverty)
    – silph
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 11:12
  • 1
    I have never heard anyone say « J'aggripe Tom », sounds totally wrong to me, it's always been « Je m'aggripe à Tom » in my lifetime. Je me chante une chanson, totally normal. Je me nettoie la cuisine sounds fine to me too, implying that it's a big job you've been meaning to undertake, the « me » is there for emphasis imho. If you say, « je nettoie la cuisine » it's factual and non-emotional, but « je me nettoie la cuisine » means you're taking the job at heart. « Qu'est-ce que tu fais? - Je nettoie la cuisine » mais « Qu'est-ce que tu fais dimanche? - Je me nettoie la cuisine! » :-)
    – PatrickT
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 2:00
  • 1
    Dans certains cas on peut se demander si c'est le pronom qui fait la différence ou simplement le fait que l'employer en contexte évoque un modèle comme se taper avec le substantif associé au verbe, comme le nettoyage. Dans d'autres cas, comme avec la pomme, je trouve la phrase en trompe l'oeil et j'attends un complément comme au visage/sur la gueule. C'est que l'emploi avec le pronom est plus usuel avec le sens de (se) prendre dans mon coin à mon avis. Sinon je l'interprète comme mettant l'accent sur le fait que ça se déroule présentement, comme avec je suis en train de. Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 7:26
  • 1
    @PatrickT J'agrippe Tom alone is unlikely but j'agrippe Tom par le bras or j'agrippe Tom par l'épaule are common.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 0:20
  • 1
    @jilliagre - The "autobenefactive" form, as in "Je me mange une pomme" parallels the informal American English usage, "I'm going to eat me an apple", "I'm going to catch me a fish" etc, where "me" means "for myself". Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 1:25

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