What part of speech is this and what does it actually mean?

How does this differ dramatically from the construction of the statement “je t’aime”?

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    Welcome to French Language. Have you read the Help Centre before asking your question? And this page in particular. Can you please say what research you have done. Have you looked at the 102 en tagged questions? Have you found anything helpful? Have you tried to find the phrase in a dictionary? (understanding the meaning helps finding what part of speech it is)....
    – None
    Sep 18, 2023 at 16:12
  • Yes I’ve tried some of these things to an extent but am a very ripe beginner to French and so most of those tagged questions are over my head and I wouldn’t know how to look up an entire phrase. Sep 18, 2023 at 17:32
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    Are seeking answers and Jim one and the same? They have different user numbers... Anyway je t'en prie being a set phrase you can easily find it in a dictionary, e.g..
    – None
    Sep 18, 2023 at 18:09
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    Nothing fundamentally new to add to the answers but contractions come and go as the flow of pronunciation dictates. Just consider both phrases in the hypothetical full form of "je te en prie" and "je te aime", the "en" belonging to the verb. So, for the context of your question, both are "je te verb". You can more clearly see this in the equivalent, polite form of "je vous en prie", where there's no contraction.
    – Gábor
    Sep 19, 2023 at 14:30

3 Answers 3


What part of speech is this and what does it actually mean?

T'en literally mean "you of it" or "you to do it". Je t'en prie is a set phrase so analysing its components can be pointless. Anyway, its literal meaning is "I pray/beg you to [do it]" and its intended one is "You are welcome [to do it]". It is built from Je te/vous prie which is equivalent to please, including in English :

Cassius. Portia, art thou gone?
Brutus. No more, I pray you.
Shakespeare: Julius Caesar, 1599

How does this differ dramatically from the construction of the statement “je t’aime”?

I don't think it does: "I pray you" and "I love you" aren't fundamentally different.


Je t'en prie is more or less a set expression, it corresponds to "go ahead" or "please do" to a question of the form "Mind if I X?" or "May I X?"

In this case, the full formulation is "Je te prie de X", with en being the pronominal form of the prepositional phrase de X. T'en is just the elided form of te + en. There are variants of the same construction: je t'en supplie or je t'en conjure for exemple, both of which being closer to "I beg of you".

  • What is meant by an eluded form? Sep 19, 2023 at 16:14
  • yeah, that was a typo lol. fixed now.
    – Circeus
    Sep 19, 2023 at 23:34

There are multiple uses for the phrase Je t'en prie and the meaning of en specifically might differ slightly between them. The two top answers right now cite one use each, both are valid uses.

First, unlike aime, en isn't a verbal form. Je t'aime is straightforwardly Je te aime > I you love > I love you. The t' merely refers to the listener. The fact that the proximity with aime has modified te into t' has nothing to do with semantics. It is simply due to pronunciation.

On the other hand, en refers to a third thing which is not either of the two people in the sentence. Typically it is some action that the second person has accomplished or is going to accomplish, or is invited to accomplish. A very common use case is this:

Alice: does something that warrants Bob to say thanks

Bob: "Merci"

Alice: "Je t'en prie"

Here Alice praises Bob for the action of saying "Merci". This is a slightly formal tone, so you'll encounter "Je vous en prie" more often.

I should note that the phrase is never used to express an order or a request. So translating it to I beg you to do it is indeed wrong. It don't think that's even a correct literal translation. prier is not to beg, literally or otherwise. The correct literal translation would be I pray you for this, which has roughly the correct meaning.

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    "Beg" is probably a bit strong but it can indeed be used to express a request, including a fervent or insistent one. Je m'assomme ici, dit Françoise, j'ai mal à la tête, je t'en prie, partons tout de suite. - Proust, Les plaisirs et les jours. Sep 19, 2023 at 15:03
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    Is it fair to say that “en” means it, and refers to “that which one has expressed thanks for, or which one has requested permission for”? Sep 19, 2023 at 16:17
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    @Seekinganswers yes, that's exactly it. Sep 20, 2023 at 7:06
  • @guillaume31 thank you for helping this make sense to me!! 👏 Sep 20, 2023 at 14:49

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