Ils se fréquentent.

Ils se fréquentent.

eel suh fray-KAHT. Click below to hear this. 

They’re seeing each other.

Fréquenter, just as it appears, means to frequent. You can use it to refer to your favorite bakery, café, spa, just about establishment that you patronize frequently. But did you know that it also refers to the person you are dating? Here’s how to start the gossip machine: Tu sais que Jean-Paul fréquente Mélanie? You know that Jean-Paul is seeing Mélanie? Of course, you have to whisper it, slyly, to create the right atmosphere of shock and scandal.

Assuming the attraction between the two is mutual, you can also say Ils se fréquententThey are seeing each other. The trick here is to understand how each other works in French. Instead of adding extra words (you could also say one another in English), you have to do something to the verb. It’s really quite simple. The subject pronoun becomes plural (ils in this case), the verb takes on the plural form (fréquentent instead of fréquente).

And then the big change: the verb becomes reflexive. That means that it takes on another pronoun, called (what else?) the reflexive pronoun. Its function is to show that the action reflects two ways, back and forth between the subjects. Whatever the one person is doing, the other person reflects back at the the first.

So Il la taquine, He teases her, might be a case of bullying. Ils se taquinentThey tease each other, probably suggests a relationship based on wit and like-mindedness. Elle le déteste means that She hates him (Pierre?) or it (broccoli?). Ils se détestent means that She hates him and he hates her (broccoli probably doesn’t play into this particular equation). Remember, when you switch to the plural subject pronoun, to consider who they are. Ils is required for any group involving at least one male (or masculine object). Elles works only for all-female or all-feminine groups.

Alternate audio file link: ils-se-frequentent


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