Susan has taught college-level French and has a PhD in French studies.
Using the Verb Chercher
It's your first time to Paris, and you're visiting the famous Louvre museum. You've gotten lost inside while strolling through the different galleries looking at the artwork, but you really want to see the Venus de Milo statue. You approach a security guard and tell him that you're looking for the Venus de Milo: Excusez-moi. Je cherche (pronounced: zhuh shairsh) la Vénus de Milo. The guard responds by asking, Vous cherchez (pronounced: voo shair shay) la Vénus de Milo? He then points over to the staircase, directing you where to go.
Did you notice the forms of chercher in the exchange with the guard at the Louvre? Above, you told the guard, 'I'm looking for the Venus de Milo' (Je cherche…), and he responded, 'You're looking for the Venus de Milo?' (Vous cherchez…?)
In French, you don't need to add the exact word 'for' when you use chercher. The English 'for' is already part of the infinitive chercher. In other words, 'look for' is all rolled into one word--chercher.
To some people, the verb chercher also sounds like and looks like the English equivalent, to search. Maybe that can help you remember it.
Forms of Chercher
Let's take a look at the verb:
|VERB: chercher (shair shay)|
|Subject Pronoun||Chercher Conjugation||Pronunciation||Translation|
|je||je cherche||(zhuh shairsh)||I look for/I am looking for|
|tu||tu cherches||(too shairsh)||You look for, you are looking for|
|il/elle/on||il/elle/on cherche||(eel/el/ohn shairsh)||he/she looks for, we look for; or he/she is looking for, we are looking for|
|nous||nous cherchons||(noo shair shohn)||we look for, we are looking for|
|vous||vous cherchez||(voo shair shay)||you look for, you are looking for|
|ils/elles||ils/elles cherchent||(eel/el shairsh)||they look for, they are looking for|
The forms, or conjugation, for this verb are the same as the other verbs that follow the pattern for verbs ending in -er. Since this verb fits the normal pattern of verbs ending in -er, we call this a 'regular' -er verb.
Other Examples of Chercher
Now that you've found the Venus de Milo, you and your friend would like to see the Mona Lisa next. So you say to another security guard, Excusez-moi, nous cherchons la Joconde. (In French, the Mona Lisa is called la Joconde; pronounced: la zhoh kohnd.) He gladly points the way for you and your friend. On your way down the hallway, you see many other tourists going to the Mona Lisa also. So you tell your friend, Ils cherchent la Joconde aussi! ('They're looking for the Mona Lisa too!')
Now you and your friend leave the Louvre and decide to split up. You tell her, Je cherche la cathédrale de Notre Dame, et tu cherches la Tour Eiffel (I'm looking for the Notre Dame cathedral, and you look for the Eiffel Tower).
And by the way, when you finally find Notre Dame, you say to yourself, Voilà! ('There it is!') (pronounced: vwa la).
Here is a review of some sentences with chercher, based on what we just went over:
--Excusez-moi, je cherche la Vénus de Milo.
--Vous cherchez la Vénus de Milo?
--Excusez-moi, nous cherchons la Joconde.
--Ils cherchent la Joconde aussi!
--Tu Cherches la Tour Eiffel?
There are other expressions in French that use chercher. For example, have you ever heard the expression, cherchez la femme? While this literally means, 'to look for the woman,' it can also be used to mean, 'That figures!'
The verb chercher means 'to look for' or 'to search.' The idea of 'for,' which we use in English, as in, 'I'm looking for the Mona Lisa,' is not added to the verb in French. It is already part of the verb chercher. Its conjugation is considered regular because it fits the pattern of other verbs ending in -er.
|VERB: chercher (shair shay)|
|Subject Pronoun||Chercher Conjugation|
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