se rappeler/se souvenir

What’s the difference between se rappeler and se souvenir?

The French verbs se rappeler and se souvenir both mean remember; however, they are not interchangeable. Read on to learn when to use se rappeler and when to use se souvenir, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Example

—Oh non ! Je ne me rappelle plus l’heure du rendez-vous.

—Heureusement, moi je me souviens de l’heure du rendez-vous.

se rappeler

We use se rappeler without a preposition. It is followed by a direct object.

Examples:
Je ne me rappelle plus son prénom.I can’t remember his name any more.
Il se rappelle avoir laissé ses lunettes sur le bureau.He remembers leaving his glasses on the desk.

This means that se rappeler cannot be used with the adverbial pronoun en.

Example:
Je me rappelle son prénom.I remember his name.
→ Je me le rappelle.I remember it.
not: Je m’en rappelle.

For the same reason, se rappeler is used with que and not with dont.

Example:
C’est tout ce qu’elle se rappelle.That’s all she remembers.

There is only one specific context where we can use se rappeler with the preposition de: when the direct object is a personal pronoun.

Example:
Tu te rappelles de moi ?Do you remember me?

se souvenir

We use the verb se souvenir with the preposition de: on se souvient de quelque chose.

Example:
Te souviens-tu des belles vacances que nous avons passées en Italie ?Do you remember the lovely vacation we spent in Italy?

Se souvenir can be used with the adverbial pronoun en (= de quelque chose).

Example:
Oui, je m’en souviens très bien.Yes, I remember it well!

For the same reason, we use se souvenir with dont and not with que.

Example:
C’est tout ce dont elle se souvient.That’s all she can remember.

To learn the conjugations of se rappeler and se souvenir, simply enter them in to our French Verbs Conjugator. To learn about some other pairs of confusing verbs, why not check out our pages on apporter/emporter or connaître/savoir.