Friday’s French: se rappeler, se souvenir, mémoire, souvenir – part #2

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In 2014, I wrote a post about the difference between se rappeler and se souvenir which has remained very popular with readers. However, I have had to update the framework of my blog since then (WordPress) and the answers and comments have disappeared.

So here are possible translations of the four sentences in bold type:

I try to remenber not to use “de” with se rappeler = J’essaie de me rappeler qu’il ne faut pas utiliser la préposition “de” avec se rappeler OR J’essaie de penser à ne pas utiliser “de” avec se rappeler.

Which reminds me that rappeler has another meaning = ce qui me fait penser que rappeler a un autre sens OR ce qui me rappelle que rappeler a un autre sens [but the French don’t like repeating the same word in a sentence!]


You probably don’t need to remember that = vous n’aurez sans doute pas à retenir ce sens-là OR vous n’aurez sans doute pas à vous rappeler ce sens-là but retenir is more appropriate.

I could never remember whether the word memoire was masculin or feminine = je ne me rappelais jamais si le mot mémoire était masculin ou féminin

A little word about retenir which I forgot to mention the first time. The idea here is to keep something in mind or learn from experience.

Je n’ai pas retenu son nom = I can’t remember his name.

Je retiens de cette aventure qu’il faut toujours avoir un vêtement de pluie lorsqu’on fait du vélo = I’ve learnt from this experience that you should always take rainwear with you when you go cycling.

Retiens bien ce que je t’ai dit = Don’t forget what I told you. Make sure you remember what you were told.

Shared by readers in their comments:

aide-mémoire = memorandum

Q. What about (se) remémorer. When would one use these vs (se) rappeler.
* remémorer⇒ vtr (rappeler) remember, recall, look back on
La cérémonie avait pour but de remémorer les douleurs du passé.
* se remémorer⇒ v pron (se rappeler) look back on, recollect, recall, remember
Les anciens amis se remémorent les bons souvenirs.

A. In the first example, I think we’d be more likely to use commemorate, otherwise remember. “The aim of the ceremony was to commemorate the painful events of the past”. For the second example, I think I’d also use remember. We could say recollect or recall, but it’s on a higher register. “Old friends remember the good times together.”

Q. And the difference between remémorer qch and commémorer qch?

A. Well, commémorer is the idea of remembering something with a ceremony (commémorer l’armistice de 1918), as in our English commemorate whereas remémorer is only recall (ce village lui remémorait sa jeunesse). However, in all the years I have lived here (over 40) I have never heard anyone use the word remémorer.

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One Response to Friday’s French: se rappeler, se souvenir, mémoire, souvenir – part #2

  1. Pingback: Friday's French – se rappeler, se souvenir, mémoire, souvenir | Aussie in France

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