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Here is an example sentence taken from a coursebook

Je m'en vais chez moi, pour me coucher.

And here is a recommendation I've found online: Ne dites jamais

Je m'en vais à la maison...

Il faut simplement dire

Je vais à la maison ou Je m'en vais.

Since these two pieces of advice are mutually exclusive, could anyone comment on them? Which of them should learners of French ignore?

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  • The second advice is correct. In the first sentence, "s'en aller" should be replaced by "partir" : je pars chez moi pour me coucher.
    – Graffito
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 7:32
  • Thank you, Graffito. But why is it used so often? Is it acceptable in certain dialects, e.g. Canadian? Here a few examples I have managed to find: Je m’en vais chez elle lui offrir un petit cadeau et je lui ai même confectionné une carte. Angie, on a du travail ce soir, moi et Manuel —— Je m’en vais chez lui.... Bye bye Boss, je m’en vais chez le concurrent. Tous les samedis, je m'en vais chez mon oncle.
    – Val
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 7:43
  • Strictly speaking we should use s'en aller only if we do not mention where to, Je m'en irai/partirai à 7 heures but Je partirai chez moi à 7 heures. But in colloquial speech lots of people use s'en aller followed by the location, hence all the examples you have found. Consider that (cf your comment), chez le concurrent is not necessarily a physical location but can be understood as the organisation (although chez la concurrence would be preferred).
    – None
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 9:43

1 Answer 1

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Ne dites jamais is excessively prescriptive, if not plain wrong.

The fact is this je m'en vais à la maison is often said by native people and many wouldn't even suspect there might be an issue with that sentence.

S'en aller is a set expression meaning to leave (or to be about to do sth), en no more refers to anything analyzable so there is no compelling reason to forbid telling to where you leave.

Paul Verlaine hadn't trouble writing:

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

Nor Molière:

Je m'en vais cependant au logis comme si de rien n'était.

Alexandre Dumas (père):

Enfin, le voici... je m'en vais à la Bibliothèque... dix heures et demie... c'est effrayant.

Alexandre Dumas (fils):

[...] adieu, alors, bonsoir; il ne me suffit plus votre théâtre, elle ne me suffit plus, votre gloire; je m'en vais à la campagne; j'achète un lopin de terre avec ce que m'a donné l'éternel mariage d'Arthur et d'Henriette, et je vais planter des choux.

Reciprocally, nobody complain about the fact we can say:

Je m'en vais d'ici.

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  • 1
    Yet another false prescription :-)
    – Frank
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 14:54
  • I'd like to thank everybody for the comments!
    – Val
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 15:37
  • 3
    I would add, at least to me, it seems "je m'en vais à la bibliothèque" shifts the emphasis to the moment where the going starts rather than where it ends.
    – Sardine
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 17:07

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