Miss vs manquer in English and French, part 2

Following up on my previous post, let’s look at differences between insufficiency, absence and lack. In French, insufficiency is often expressed with the impersonal third person « Il » or « ça » or a passive.

Absence vs lack

The result is the same…yet, isn’t there a nuance in how we see things?

« Il manque du sel dans la soupe », « Ca manque de sel », or « La soupe manque de sel ». In short, there isn’t enough salt in the soup. The idea is that the soup is « lacking in savory ». In terms of savory, it’s missing something.

Salt being a mass noun, in English we’ll say there is too much or not enough salt, or too salty. We could also say, « There is a little something missing from this soup…« , the something being salt, flavor or spices, etc.


  • Il manque un bouton de ta chemise. A button is missing from your shirt. French notes your shirt lacks in something while English notes the absence of that button.
  • Il lui manque une case, He has a loose screw or the delightful, He’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic, which expresses insufficiency with flair.
  • Money is missing from my wallet would be, Il manque de l’argent (dans mon porte-monnaie). There is no doubt that initially there was money in the wallet. However, it’s gone. However, il me manque de l’argent is context dependent and generally means I don’t have enough money as opposed to Some money is missing.

When might you use these three examples ?

  • Il me manque encore quelque chose.
  • Le temps me manque.
  • Il me manque des informations.

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