Mastering “Approcher”: A Detailed Guide on Using the Versatile French Verb

If you’re learning French, familiarising yourself with versatile verbs is imperative. A highly useful verb in this regard is “Approcher” (translates to “Approach” or “Near” in English). From indicating proximity to describing interactions, “Approcher” enables the speaker to express a multitude of scenarios. In this post, we explore how to use “approcher” in various contexts and grammatical tenses with some helpful examples.

  1. Expressing Physically Getting Closer:
    The most straightforward use of “approcher” is to describe physically getting closer to someone or something. It can refer to objects, animals, people, or abstract concepts. Here are some examples to illustrate this usage:
    • Approchez-vous de la peinture pour observer les détails. (Approach the painting to observe the details.)
    • Nous approchons de la ville. (We are approaching the city.)
    • Il a peur des chiens. Il ne les approche jamais. (He’s afraid of dogs. He never goes near them.)
  2. Describing Indirect Connections:
    “Approcher” can be used to describe an indirect connection with someone or something. When used in this context, it is followed by the preposition “de.” Here are a few examples to illustrate this point:
    • Il n’a jamais pu approcher du directeur pour lui parler de son idée. (He was never able to get close to the director to talk about his idea.)
    • Il est difficile d’approcher de la vérité en cette matière. (It’s hard to get near the truth in this matter.)
  3. Using it in a Figurative Sense:
    Apart from the physical sense of getting near, “approcher” can be used in a purely figurative sense too, to express a concept barely being reached or nearly attained.
    • Leur niveau de luxe n’approche même pas celui de la royauté. (Their level of luxury doesn’t even approach that of royalty.)
    • Son travail est brillant, il approche de la perfection. (His work is brilliant; it verges on perfection.)
  4. Forming derivatives:
    Another useful feature of ‘approcher’ is its applicability in deriving related forms, such as ‘s’approcher de’ (to get close to) and ‘approchable’ (approachable). Here are a few examples:
    • Ils se sont approchés de la scène. (They got closer to the stage.)
    • Le professeur est très approchable. (The teacher is very approachable.)

The French verb “approcher” is a linguistic chameleon, able to adjust itself according to various circumstances and contexts. Its utility beyond signifying physical proximity serves to express indirect connections and figurative meanings. Careful usage of “approcher” and its derivatives can significantly enhance the richness of your French communication. So, don’t be shy to “approcher” this versatile verb and embrace the breadth of expression it offers in your French linguistic journey! Allez, approchez-vous de la maîtrise du français avec approcher!