French word of the week: lever

It’s that time again – we’re back with another French word of the week blog. Today we’re looking at the verb lever.

To hear the French pronunciation of lever, listen to the audio clip below:

We can translate this verb in English as to lift, raise or rise. It generally follows the rules for conjugating regular -er verbs in French, but there are some slight differences when it comes to certain tenses. For more about this, see our Easy Learning French Grammar page about verbs with an accent change in the present tense.

Now we can look at some examples of using the verb in action:

lever la jambe to lift your leg

lever les yeux to look up; to look upwards

lever des fonds to raise money; to fundraise

lever son verre à quelqu’un to raise your glass to someone

Pouvez-vous m’aider à lever ces cartons ? Ils sont trop lourds. Can you help me to lift these boxes? They’re too heavy.

Levez la main si vous avez besoin d’un stylo. Raise your hand if you need a pen.

Nous allons commencer à lever progressivement les confinements. We’re going to start lifting the lockdowns a little bit at a time.

Malheureusement, on n’a pas levé assez des fonds pour reconstruire l’hôpital. Unfortunately, we didn’t raise enough money to rebuild the hospital.

In its reflexive form se lever, the verb has a slightly different translation. This appears in the context of getting yourself up (and often out of bed).

You’ll encounter phrases like:

se lever to get up

Lève-toi ! Get up!

Je me lève tôt chaque matin, sauf le dimanche. I get up early every day except Sundays.

On se levait quand elle a appelé. We were just getting up when she called.

Tu ne t’es pas encore levé ? Il faut partir. Have you not gotten up yet? It’s time to leave.

As this verb deals with the physical action of getting up, try to remember that it does not mean the same as the verb to wake up, which is a completely different word in French – se réveiller.

Just to make things a little more complex, in some situations you might also see lever used as a masculine noun:

le lever rising

au lever du soleil at sunrise; at daybreak

au lever du rideau at curtain-up; when the curtain goes up

Another week, another French word under your belt – we think it’s time to raise a glass to yourself! See you again for our next French word of the week.

Written by Holly Tarbet, freelance copywriter and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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