When I met the man who would become my first serious French boyfriend, the first thing I learned was how to master flirty text messages in another language. The second was how to say “I miss you.”
It wasn’t because those flirty text messages failed — I had to go back to America. We were no longer separated by a few Metro stations, but by an ocean.
Saying “I miss you” in French wasn’t easy. I did miss my boyfriend, of course. But the phrase itself is so different from its version in English, that it took some getting used to.
That first long-distance relationship didn’t last. On the bright side, it did leave me with a solid grasp of this tricky phrase.
Maybe you’re also longing for your French-speaking sweetheart, or you can’t wait to see French relatives, friends, or coworkers again. Or maybe you’re planning to one day be in one of these scenarios.
Whatever your situation, it’s a good idea to master “I miss you” in French. So, let’s get started.
“I miss you” in French
The most basic way to say “I miss you” in French is Tu me manques. You may notice that the pronouns are reversed from their English order. That’s because, literally translated, this phrase means: “You are lacking to me.”
I’ve heard and read countless people marvel at this construction. It implies that a person has become an essential part of you, or at least essential to your survival.
That is pretty cool. But it doesn’t mean the phrase can’t be tricky to remember. In a really emotional moment, you may find yourself reversing the pronouns or simply fumbling. That’s why it’s important to get it down in advance!
In order to do that, let’s start with a little dip into the ocean of grammar. Tu me manques uses the reflexive pronoun me, signifying “to me”. This means that the subject – Tu – is what affects the verb manquer’s conjugation, hence the “s” at the end. If you flipped the phrase around to say Je te manque (You miss me), notice that the verb now is conjugated in the first person.
Going beyond Tu me manques: Other subjects, objects, and tenses
You’re probably most likely to want to say “I miss you” in French. But if you do need to change things, just remember that verb rule.
Now that you understand what’s behind this phrase, test yourself: If you miss multiple people, how would you say that?
That’s right: Vous me manquez. Notice again that the subject (in this case, vous) is what affects the conjugation of manquer.
Don’t forget that the object can also change. For example, you may want to say Tu nous manques – “We miss you.” Notice that this does not change the conjugation of the verb.
Even if you’re good with Tu and me, you may want to express missing someone in a time other than the present – for example, “I will miss you” or “I missed you”. In these cases, remember that the pronouns don’t change – just the verb tense. You can use a handy conjugation chart for manquer, like this one, to help you with that.
More than just “miss”: How to say “I really miss you” and other phrases in French
The good news is, once you’ve got the basic idea of how to say “I miss you” in French, you can modify it – whether by changing the subject, object, or tense, like I talked about before, or by adding some words to show just how much you miss someone.
Here are some common ways to add a little more to missing someone in French. Since you know the main structure of the phrase already, see if you can guess what each one means with the additional word added, before looking at the translation:
– Tu me manques beaucoup – I miss you a lot.
– Tu me manques déjà – I miss you already
– Tu me manques grave – I seriously miss you.
(The adverb grave is very informal, and mostly used by French teens and pre-teens. Anyone older than that who uses it will probably seem a little bit silly or unintelligent, although of course there are exceptions. I’ve included this expression on the list because it’s very common in text messages, and series, movies, etc., targeted towards young people in France. Plus, if you’re older, it’s always good to know what the kids are doing these days.)
– Tu me manques tellement – I miss you so much.
– Tu me manques vachement – I really/bloody miss you (this is fairly informal, so be careful who you use it with)
For more modifiers, check out this list of synonyms for beaucoup. Most could be added to the phrase Tu me manques or a variant (Tu nous manques, Vous me manquez, etc.), but you may want to do an online search with Tu me manques followed by the word or phrase to make absolutely sure.
Remember that you can also use these modifiers with manquer in different tenses. For example: Tu m’as tellement manqué, Vous allez beaucoup me manquer, etc.
How to say ‘I miss doing something’ in French
Sometimes, it’s not just the person you miss; it’s what you did together. You might miss long talks, catching up over lunch, going to the movies, fighting crime – whatever. So, how do you say that?
The most efficient way is the little phrase: Ça me manque de…
This literally translates to: It’s lacking to me to… With that in mind, you can then complete your statement by adding what it is that you’re missing.
If you want to be subtler, remember that you don’t necessarily have to add the idea of “with you”. You could say, for instance, Ça me manque de sortir les vendredi soirs. – I miss going out on Friday nights. If you always went out with the person you’re talking to, they’d probably get what you mean, or at least ask you to clarify if it’s them that you miss, or simply going out.
You can also use this phrase simply to express that you miss doing something. Now that I’m a mom, for example, I often think, Ça me manque de faire la grasse matinée les weekends – I miss sleeping in on weekends.
“I miss you” in French: From the neutral, to the very dramatic
Another common way to say “I miss you” is À bientôt, je l’espère (Hope to see you soon.). As in English, this is a friendly-seeming but fairly neutral expression. It seems like you’ll be glad to see the person next time, but you’re not pining away in their absence. You can use it with friends, coworkers, clients, and acquaintances. Note that if you’re talking, not writing, to someone, it’s less formal to say this as: A bientôt, j’espère.
On the other hand, if baring your soul is what you’re after, consider this phrase:
Je ne suis pas bien sans toi. It literally translates to “I’m no good without you.” Sort of devaluing I guess, but very dramatic.
How to say “I can’t wait to see you” in French
Maybe you want to put a more positive spin on things and focus on the next time you’ll see each other. There are several options for this, as well. These include:
– Je suis impatient de te voir. – Although ‘impatient’ in English implies a lack of patience at the person you’re talking to, in this kind of French expression it better translates to “can’t wait.” So this is the perfect way to tell a person or people you care about that you can’t wait to see them.
– J’ai hâte de te/vous revoir. – Literally meaning “I feel haste to see you again”, this is another way to say “I can’t wait to see you again.”
A variant, J’ai hâte que tu reviennes means “I can’t wait till you come back,” and puts a bit of responsibility on the person you miss, rather than the situation.
– On se reverra quand ? (When will we see each other again?) or On se reverra bientôt ? (We’ll see each other again soon?) – These questions seem to hold the person leaving accountable. But it could just be a vague, unanswered question that suggests the person wants to see you again but is not forcing you to answer, even so. It’s not just for lovers – in fact, in my personal experience, I’ve often heard it used by elderly family members or friends.
– Reviens vite (Come back soon) – This is my favorite way to passionately express your desire to see someone soon. It’s not a statement, but a command, yet a useless one, since it’s unlikely the person saying this could control how long the other will be away, making it actually more of a strongly-worded plea. It’s vulnerable and urgent all at once.
– Vivement [a day/other time period] ! – Say you just went out with your sweetheart, and they have to leave for a few days for a business trip, but they’ll be back Friday. You could tell them Vivement vendredi
!, meaning, I can’t wait till Friday! To use other days or months, times of day, etc., keep Vivement the same (no need to worry about agreement or anything) and add the time you can’t wait for. For example:, Vivement la pause-café !, Vivement lundi !, Vivement minuit !,etc.
Practicing expressions to say “I miss you” in French
As you get to know French-speakers, whether in person or online, you’ll probably become familiar with at least one of the expressions I’ve covered here. In the meantime, a fun way to practice would be to write a small dialogue about different people saying their farewells or reaching out to say they miss each other.
If you’re looking for inspiration, this site has some excellent examples, including several very dramatic and romantic ones.
Now that you know _ ways to say “I miss you,” if there’s someone you’re missing, use one (or maybe even a few) to reach out and tell them so!