Missing in French


I remember clearly a day in Paris, getting ready to leave once again, my companion sitting against the edge of a table in his flat, pulling me very close to him and asking (in English), "Will I miss you?"

I replied, "I don't know. That's really up to you… I don't know how you will feel when I leave."

Then I remembered that French expresses the concept of "missing someone" differently than English does. He was asking, in English with French construction, if I would miss him. To say, "I miss you", the French say "tu me manques". That is, "you are missed by me". "You" takes center stage in this construction, despite how impersonal it comes out in a literal English translation. But doesn't it express so much more beautifully that YOU are at the heart of the speaker's sentiment rather than how we English speakers do it? The whole "I miss you" makes the "I" subject the most important part and person in the equation.

As always, I side with the French. (And yes, dear sir, tu me manques beaucoup.)

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