It is lève-toi when positive, but ne te lève pas when negative.

Why does the pronoun itself and its position change? Is this an inconsistency? What does native speakers think about it?

1 Answer 1


The "irregular" form is the positive imperative which uses the stressed pronoun toi after the verb.

Lève-toi !

All other French tenses use the unstressed reflexive pronoun te:

Tu te lèves
Tu ne te lèves pas
Tu t'es levé
Ne te lève pas !

It's a pattern among romance languages imperatives:

Spanish: ¡Levantate! / ¡No te levanta!
Italian: Alzati! / * Non ti alzare! (but also Non alzarti)
Catalan: Aixeca't! / No t’aixequis!
Romanian: Ridică-te! / Nu te ridica!

In spoken French, ne is often dropped leading to:

Te lève pas !

A more radical evolution builds the negative imperative from the positive :

Lève-toi pas !

This last form is probably not in your French grammar book, though.

  • Thank you. So is this an inconsistency in your opinion? Also have you ever heard some native speaker using Lève-toi pas ? What about Ne lève-toi pas ?
    – Xfce4
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 23:54
  • 2
    As a native speaker, I don't feel it like an inconsistency. It's just the way it is and has always been... I have heard people saying Lève-toi pas ! but only in informal situations, or kids. I don't think I would ever say lève-toi pas ! however, I sometimes says Prends-le pas ! instead of Ne le prends pas !
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 0:19
  • 3
    Ne lève-toi pas is "impossible".
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 0:19

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