The Oxford-Hachette dictionary doesn't seem to have an entrance for « se fonctionner » but I've heard it being used before and Google translates it as "to operate". However I can't tell the difference between that and just « fonctionner », which in the Oxford Hachette has example sentences like « fonctionner comme un système d'alarme » which in this case also translates to "operates like an alarm system". So if someone could clarify the distinction between the two (if there is any) that would be great.

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    Please provide examples of usage. I have never heard se fonctionner being used and consider it a mistake.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 12, 2021 at 9:40
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    Pour vérifier une traduction hasardeuse de Gogole qui ne vérifie pas ses sources, utiliser deepl.com/translator et son éventail de solutions tirées d'exemples contrôlés et aussi cnrtl.fr/definition qui vous informe en A et B que le verbe est intransitif, donc sans se possible en bon français … perte de temps et recherches inutiles évitées :-)
    – Personne
    Dec 12, 2021 at 12:52

1 Answer 1


The Oxford-Hachette dictionary doesn't have an entry for se fonctionner, neither have other dictionaries, simply because fonctionner is never used as a pronominal verb.

Since you mention Google, I've checked what uses could be found online. Apart from quite a few typing errors (often d → s) or just bad rereading :

ces dernières n'ont pas cessé se fonctionner.

Toutefois, les éléments de la structure abstraite du PDV sont loin de se fonctionner de conserve et dans l’ordre canonique : X (verbe de perception et/ou de procès mental) P.

In this last example the word just shouldn't be there, it happens sometimes even with academic papers when proofreading is insufficient.

I've found a few uses of se fonctionner in technical writings that are obvious bad translations from a foreign language1:

En principe, il existe 5 divers types de câbles HDMI. Pour le câble de type A, il s’agit d’un câble standard. Il peut se fonctionner pour divers appareils, ()

Il peut se fonctionner sous cinq modes de fonctionnement : manuellement ‐ réglage indépendant de tension, automatique ‐ ()

In both cases it should have been just fonctionner.

1 Translations in the academic world, or serious technical writing, are always done from the foreign language into the mother tongue, but this is not the case with technical instructions which are often made by people who sometimes have a poor knowledge of both languages.

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    Translations are done, not made, by the way.
    – Lambie
    Dec 12, 2021 at 20:10

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