"Nous changions de voiture tous les ans". Why can't we say "Nous changions une/notre voiture tous les ans"?

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Kwiziq community member

28 June 2018

5 replies

"Nous changions de voiture tous les ans". Why can't we say "Nous changions une/notre voiture tous les ans"?

When do we use "changer de" and when do we use "changer"? What is their difference? 

Thank you

This question relates to:
French lesson "Conjugate semi-regular -ger verbs in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense)"


Kwiziq community member

29 June 2018


Hi Joan,

Changer de and changer have a very similar meaning albeit not exactly the same.

Changer de -- to switch, to change over, a change of something
Changer -- to change, to exchange

Nous changions de voiture tous les ans. -- We used to have a change of cars every year.
Nous changions la voiture tous les ans. -- We used to change the car every year.

That's my understanding of the matter, but the opinion of a native speaker would be appreciated.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).


Kwiziq language super star

30 June 2018


Hi Joan,

When you use the verb 'changer' the subject is doing the "changing".


Il a beaucoup changé, on ne le reconnait plus.

(He has changed a lot, you don't recognise him any more.)

With 'changer de' it is the object doing the "changing".

Je vais changer de coiffeur = I am going to change my hairdresser

Je vais changer de robe/de pantalon  = I am going to change my dress/trousers

Hope this helps!


Kwiziq community member

2 July 2018


Hi Cécile,

this is an interesting explanation that I am still not entirely clear about.

Would the sentence "Je change ma robe." be incorrect? And if not, how would it be translated?

-- Chris.


Kwiziq language super star

3 July 2018


Hi Chris,

Yes, you can say 'Je change ma /de robe car j'ai fait une tâche dessus'.

or even 'Je change ma/de voiture cette année.

I was trying to simplify the different usages of 'changer'

Changer ( intransitive verb) means just 'to change'.

e.g. Cette ville a beaucoup changé depuis la guerre. (This town has changed a lot since the war.)

Il change en ce moment, il devient vraiment méchant.

(He is changing at the moment, he is becoming nasty.)

In the case of transitive usages of 'changer quelque chose':

it conveys 'to bring change to something'or 'to replace something':

Changer une ampoule = to change a light bulb

Changer le monde  = to change the world

Changer les draps = to change the sheets

'Changer DE quelque chose'  will usually mean 'to switch something' or 'to get a different something'

Changer de T-shirt, changer d'avis /d'idée  (to change one's mind)changer de couleur. etc...

A big difference in meaning between "Je veux changer le pays" (I want to change the country) and "Je veux changer de pays" (I want to leave the country)!

Hope it is clearer...


Kwiziq community member

9 July 2018


My 2 bits:    I want 'a change of' country (changer de).

I want 'to change' (changer,trans) the country.

The country is changing (changer ,intrans).

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