In this blog, we study a commonly used French word with some interesting translations or grammar features. Our word this week is the verb toucher.
First of all, listen to the audio below to hear how to pronounce it:
While it doesn’t sound the same when spoken, its similarity to the spelling of the English word ‘touch’ stands out. We often advise against trusting similar French and English words to work out translations, but in this case, it works!
Toucher means to touch, but it also can mean to feel, to affect, and has even more meanings in different contexts.
When it comes to conjugation, toucher follows a regular -er pattern in all tenses. You can visit our Easy Learning French Grammar pages for information on regular conjugation of -er verbs in the present indicative, present subjunctive and imperfect tense.
Now it’s time to see how toucher is used in some examples:
Ne touchez pas aux peintures s’il vous plaît. Please do not touch the paintings.
Heureusement, ces nouvelles lois ne nous toucheront pas. Fortunately, these new laws will not affect us.
Ma petite cousine a voulu toucher mon serpent, mais elle avait trop peur. My little cousin wanted to touch my snake, but she was too scared.
J’ai adoré ce roman, il m’a vraiment touché. I loved this novel, it touched me deeply.
In the example above, you might recognise the past participle of toucher. In English, we might respond with “touché“ when someone makes a comment which we admit was a better argument, or a better point than our own. While this of course comes from the French verb, its specific context is from the sport of fencing, where touché also means a successful hit.
Let’s continue with some set phrases featuring toucher:
toucher un mot de quelque chose à quelqu’un to have a word with someone about something
toucher à sa fin to come to an end; to draw to a close
toucher au but to be within reach of a goal; to near a goal
toucher un salaire to earn a salary; to receive a salary
Ça me fait du bien de toucher un salaire après deux ans de chômage. It feels great for me to be earning a salary after two years of unemployment.
In all the previous examples, we’ve used the verb in one form or another. However, in some contexts, toucher is in fact used as a masculine noun.
toucher sense of touch
au toucher to the touch
Ce tissu est très doux au toucher. This fabric is very soft to the touch.
Ma mère est aveugle depuis neuf mois. Son toucher est donc très important. My mother has been blind for nine months. Now her sense of touch is very important.
We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look at this week’s word – who knows what vocabulary we might touch on next time? Come back next week to find out.
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.