In French, depending on context you will use one of these four verbs to express to leave: partir, laisser, quitter or sortir.
Look at these sentences:
Je suis parti tôt ce soir.I left early tonight.
Elle part tous les jours à six heures.She leaves every day at six.
Vous êtes sortis de la pièce avant nous.You came out of the room before us.
(You left the room before us.)
Nous sortons juste du métro.We're just coming out of the metro.
(We're just leaving the metro.)
Il a quitté son travail.He quit his job.
Elle quitte Patrick pour quelqu'un d'autre.She's leaving Patrick for someone else.
Nous avons laissé les passeports dans la voiture !We left the passports in the car!
Tu laisses la porte ouverte tous les soirs.You leave the door open every evening.
Note the following distinctions:
- partir means to leave / to go away. You can use it on its own (e.g. I leave = Je pars).
When used with a place, it will always be followed by a preposition (e.g. I leave from / for = Je pars de / pour)
Je pars de cette ville.I'm leaving this town.
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 out. When used with de, sortir de + place, it can express the idea of 'leaving', in the sense of coming or going out of a place.
Je sors de la maison.I'm going out of the house.
(I'm leaving the house.)
- quitter means to leave some place / somewhere. You cannot use it on its own: it always needs an object, and it can be used for places and people (for example to break up).
Je quitte cette ville pour de bon.I'm leaving this town for good.
Quitter is also the only one to mean to leave / quit a job or [someone] for good.
- 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.
partir and sortir are intransitive verbs, whereas quitter and laisser are always transitive verbs (i.e. have a direct object).
Want to make sure your French sounds confident?
We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your
gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »