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What is the difference between the words 's'arrêter' and 'arrêter' ?

The dictionary says that the both words mean to stop.

Police stop the protesters marching towards the prime minister's office.
( In the above, I don't know whether to use 's'arrêter' or 'arrëter' )

1. Elle arrête de fumer.

2. Je arrête de fumer.
 Are my sentences correct?

One of the online dictionary says you should use 'arrêter' when turning off electrical appliances.
I am a bit confused because when I shut down my mobile phone, it uses the word 's'arrěter'.

On my mobile phone, I have French as the default language. When I shut it down, I read the words 'va s'arrêter'.

I appreciate if you shed some light on my question.

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"arrěter" is a transitive verb and normally requires an object (something that is being stopped)

"s'arrêter" can be considered intransitive ,since no object is required (there is the "s'" which refers back to the subject of the verb -whoever or whatever is "stopping" )

You do hear "arrêter" used in place of "s'arrêter" . I think this is not very good use of the language -but you might use it if you were annoyed or wanted to communicate tersely ( "arrêtez!" for example)

Hope that helps.

arrêter = to stop

s'arrêter = to stop oneself (it is a reflexive form)


Je m'arrête de fumer = I stop smoking  or  Je me suis arrête (should have an accent on the last 'e') de fumer = I stopped smoking.


I always see the construction Sujet - se - être - participle ( voix passive ) : Je me suis arrêté ...

But can't understand why in that structure the object is represented **twice** : once as "se" , once as "Sujet" ( because in the passive voice, the subject is also the object of the verb)

Is there a way to explain that, or is it just one of the things that is 'just how it works' ?


Yes, I (subject) stopped (verb) myself (object).  

It's always done in English, where the subject pronouns and the object pronouns often refer to the same thing:

He (subject) stops (verb) himself (object) from spending too much money.

In French, all reflexive verbs use etre  instead of avoir in the passé composé.

But that's where the difference is: 'stops' is not the same as 'be stopped' which is the word-for-word equivalence of "Être arrêté"

The word-for-word conversion of "Je me suis arrêté..." is:
I - am - stopped - myself
(which of course is wrong, with the object of the verb 'stop' appearing twice: 'I' and 'myself')

I am not questioning the correctness of firmly established diction, only the French structure appears to have the object represented twice : "je" and "me".

I think you have to consider "suis arrêté." as a piece and not break it up into "suis" and "arrêté."

Does that help?

But it is not wrong in French.  French is not English and English is not French--or Italian or Spanish or Irish.  Translation can only be considered in terms of approximation, never word for word.  In German the verb comes last; in Irish the verb comes first.  Are these construct wrong?  No, not in their respective languages.

For instance, in Irish, ta cota agam  literally means "is a coat at me" but is translated "I have a coat".  It's a proper construct in Irish but has to be totally manipulated to make sense in English.

I didn't say that structure was wrong. But perhaps the whole problem was I've confused the plu parfait and the voix passive.

Look at it like this .

You would naturally expect "s'arrêter" (to stop oneself) to lead to

"je m'arrête" (I stop myself) ,which in turn would lead to

je m'ai s'arrêté (I have stopped myself)

This would ,however be a mistake as , in all these kinds of constructions (reflexive verbs)it is necessary to change use "etre" instead of "avoir" and so you end up with

"je me suis arrêté"(I stopped myself or I stopped ,as we would more likely say in English)

Thanks everybody for the excellent comments, which exceeds what I want to learn as well as my knowledge of English and French.

I must confess that I have a smattering of French.

You have missed one of my sentences. Please look at the following:

Police stop the protesters marching towards the prime minister's office.
Police arrêtent les manifestants en marche vers le bureau du premier ministre .
( How about the French translation?)

You may write 'La police' here. I don't know. French uses the word 'gendarmes' too to when mentioning police. I do not know these facts very well.

In my book, it has to be stop not stops. To the best of my knowledge of English 'the police force' considered plural.

Police stopped the protesters marching towards the prime minister's office.

Police a arrêté les manifestants marchant vers le bureau du Premier ministre .

First, in English you need the definite article "the" as in "the police".  In French it would be la police or, perhaps, la gendarmerie.  Gendarme is a single policeman.


Second, George Bernard Shaw, the Irish Dramatist, stated that England and America were "two countries separated by a common language".  In British English collective nouns (the team, the government) are considered plural and take "are". Here in the US, American English treats collective nouns as singular uses "is" with them.  American: the government is voting today.  British: the government are at a stand-still.

Police stop the protesters marching towards the prime minister's office.

La Police (or Les policiers ) arrête(nt) les manifestants qui march(ai)ent dans la direction du bureau du premier ministre .

In English a collective noun like "the Police Force" can be treated as a single thing or as a plural thing
It would be equally correct to say "The Police Force has "or "The Police Force have".

Context could be important -I am not entirely sure.

Also @ Charles It is acceptable ,and common in UK English to say "Police" without a need to say "The Police"

see here as an example:


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