Ça se comprend !

Ça se comprend !

sah skaw-PRAH! Click below to hear this!  

That’s understandable!

Another of those reflexive verbs that drive learners crazy but liven up the French language!

When you use a reflexive verb, the person who performs the action and the person represented by the reflexive pronoun must be the same individual. So Il se couche (eel SKOOSH) means He is going to bed (reflexive), while Il le couche (eel luh KOOSH) means He is putting him (the baby, for instance) to bed (non-reflexive, with a direct pronoun).

The fun comes when you have a reflexive verb with a neutral subject like ça, which doesn’t refer to a person, nor even, most of the time, any animate object. And if it’s an inanimate object, then it can’t do much of anything on its own, except to sit there and look pretty.

In this expression, ça normally stands for an idea, a situation, a feeling, or some other intangible–always something that has been referred to, but that doesn’t necessarily have a simple, one-word antecedent. It doesn’t usually refer to apples, a car, or a tree.

Let’s say you have just admitted to your best friend that you blew up at your parents, who are known to be difficult people. Your friend says sympathetically, Ça se comprend: It’s understandable, No wonder, With good reason, I get it. Literally, he is saying, That understands itself, or, in considerably better English, That makes itself understood.

In other words, the whole case is so obvious that you could hardly be expected to have acted any differently. As in the crime shows on TV, once the detectives discover a suspect with means, motive, and opportunity, the pieces all fall into place. Of course he did it! Ça se comprend !


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