In French, depending on context, you use one of these four verbs to express to leave: partir, laisser, quitter or sortir.
How to express "to leave" in French
Here's how to use each of them correctly:
- partir means to leave / to go away.
You can use it on its own (I leave = Je pars).
When you use it with a place, it is always followed by a preposition (I leave from / for ... = Je pars de / pour ...).
Je pars de cette ville.I'm leaving this town.
Elle part tous les jours à six heures.She leaves every day at six.
It's very colloquial to say partir en vacances for to go on holiday:
Cette année, nous partons en vacances en hiver.This year, we're going (away) on holiday in the winter.
- sortir means to go/come out.
When used with de, as in sortir de + [place], it can express the idea of leaving [somewhere], in the sense of going/coming out of a place.
Je sors de la maison.I'm going out of the house.
(I'm leaving the house.)
Nous sortons juste du métro.We're just coming out of the metro.
(We're just leaving the metro.)
- quitter generally means to leave a place / somewhere. You cannot use it on its own: it always needs an object.
Quitter Je quitte cette ville pour de bon.I'm leaving this town for good.
Elle a dû quitter le cours plus tôt aujourd'hui.She had to leave the class earlier today.
is also the only one
you can use to mean leaving someone for good
(i.e. to break up with someone
Elle quitte Patrick pour quelqu'un d'autre.She's leaving Patrick for someone else.
Je ne te quitterai jamais !I will never leave you!
In the context of work, quitter can have two meanings. Like in English, it can mean to quit a job for good, but it can also simply mean leaving one's place of work (on that day).
- Il a enfin quitté son travail !
- Tant mieux pour lui !- He finally quit his job!
- Good for him!
En général, il quitte le travail vers 18h.Generally, he leaves work around 6pm.
- laisser means to leave something / to let. You cannot use it on its own. However, this one is NOT used for places, only to leave people or things in places.
Je laisse ma fille à l'école.I'm leaving my daughter at school.
Tu laisses la porte ouverte tous les soirs.You leave the door open every evening.
J'ai laissé mon chien chez ma mère pour le weekend.I left my dog at my mother's house for the weekend.
partir is an intransitive verb, whereas quitter and laisser are always transitive verbs (i.e. have a direct object) and sortir can be either.
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