Lock in our old prices!
Your last chance to upgrade at these rates »

Expressing "to leave" with partir/laisser/quitter/sortir in French

In French, depending on context, you use one of these four verbs to express to leavepartirlaisserquitter  or sortir.

How to express "to leave" in French

 

Here's how to use each of them correctly:

Partir

- partir means to leave / to go away.

You can use it on its own (I leave = Je pars).
When you use it with a place (or a city), it is always followed by a preposition (I leave from / for ... = Je pars de / pour ...).
Elle part dans cinq minutes.She is leaving in five minutes.

Je suis partie de chez moi vers 9h.I left the house around 9.

Nous allons partir de Paris pour aller à Angers.We are going to leave from Paris to go to Angers.

Ton train part pour Montpellier à quelle heure ?What time does your train leave for Montpellier?

Special case: 

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

sortir actually means to go/come out.
But when used with de, as in sortir de + [place], it can express the idea of leaving [somewhere], in the sense of going/coming out of a place.
Je suis sortie de la maison vers 9h.I went out of the house around 9.  
(I left the house around 9.)

Nous sortons juste du métro.We've just come out of the metro.
(We've just left the metro.)

Il sort de son travail à 19h.He comes out of work at 7pm.
(He leaves work at 7pm.)

Vous êtes sortis de la pièce avant nous.You came out of the room before us.  
(You left the room before us.)

Sortir de + [city]

The context in which you could use sortir de [ville] to express to leave [city] is very specific in French (note that it doesn't apply to countries,states,regions etc). It would only refer to an action in progress, for example speaking to someone as you're driving out of the city: I'm leaving Paris as we speak.

- Où es-tu ?
- Je sors de Paris là, je serai à la maison dans 20 minutes.
- Where are you ?
- I'm leaving Paris now, I'll be home in 20 minutes.

Il vient de sortir de Bordeaux, il ne va pas tarder.He's just left Bordeaux, he won't be long.
 

Quitter

- quitter generally means to leave a place/somewhere, whether it be temporarily or for good.
You cannot use it on its own: it always needs an object.
Quitter can be used with cities, countries, states, regions etc
Elle a dû quitter le cours plus tôt aujourd'hui.She had to leave the class earlier today.

En général, nous quittons le bureau à 18h.We usually leave the office at 6pm.

Il a enfin quitté son travail ! Tant mieux pour lui !He finally quit his job! Good for him!

Cette fois, je quitte l'Angleterre pour de bon.This time, I'm leaving England for good.

On a quitté Chartres vers 8h30.We left Chartres (city) around 8.30.

Quitter is also the only one you can use to mean leaving someone for good (i.e. to break up with someone).
Elle quitte Adrien pour quelqu'un d'autre.She's leaving Adrien for someone else.

Je ne te quitterai jamais !I will never leave you!

ATTENTION:
In the context of work, quitter can have two meanings. Like in English, it can mean to quit a job for good, but it can also simply mean leaving one's place of work (on that day).
Il a enfin quitté son travail ! Tant mieux pour lui !He finally quit his job! Good for him!

En général, il quitte le travail vers 18h.Generally, he leaves work around 6pm.

Laisser

- 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.

Tu laisses la porte ouverte tous les soirs.You leave the door open every evening.

J'ai laissé mon chien chez ma mère pour le weekend.I left my dog at my mother's house for the weekend.

 

Grammar Jargon:   
partir 
is an intransitive verb, whereas quitter and laisser are always transitive verbs (i.e. have a direct object) and sortir can be either.

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 Brainmap today »

Examples and resources

Il vient de sortir de Bordeaux, il ne va pas tarder.He's just left Bordeaux, he won't be long.
Je suis partie de chez moi vers 9h.I left the house around 9.
Cette fois, je quitte l'Angleterre pour de bon.This time, I'm leaving England for good.
Elle quitte Adrien pour quelqu'un d'autre.She's leaving Adrien for someone else.
Il sort de son travail à 19h.He comes out of work at 7pm.
(He leaves work at 7pm.)
Tu laisses la porte ouverte tous les soirs.You leave the door open every evening.
En général, nous quittons le bureau à 18h.We usually leave the office at 6pm.
Nous avons laissé les passeports dans la voiture !We left the passports in the car!
Je laisse ma fille à l'école.I'm leaving my daughter at school.
Cette année, nous partons en vacances en hiver.This year, we're going (away) on holiday in the winter.
Je vais laisser mes clés sur la table.I'm going to leave my keys on the table.
Je suis parti tôt ce soir.I left early tonight.
Ton train part pour Montpellier à quelle heure ?What time does your train leave for Montpellier?
Vous êtes sortis de la pièce avant nous.You came out of the room before us.  
(You left the room before us.)
J'ai laissé mon chien chez ma mère pour le weekend.I left my dog at my mother's house for the weekend.
Nous sortons juste du métro.We've just come out of the metro.
(We've just left the metro.)
En général, il quitte le travail vers 18h.Generally, he leaves work around 6pm.
Je suis sortie de la maison vers 9h.I went out of the house around 9.  
(I left the house around 9.)
Elle a dû quitter le cours plus tôt aujourd'hui.She had to leave the class earlier today.
Il a enfin quitté son travail ! Tant mieux pour lui !He finally quit his job! Good for him!
Je ne te quitterai jamais !I will never leave you!
Elle part dans cinq minutes.She is leaving in five minutes.
On a quitté Chartres vers 8h30.We left Chartres (city) around 8.30.
Nous allons partir de Paris pour aller à Angers.We are going to leave from Paris to go to Angers.
- Où es-tu ?
- Je sors de Paris là, je serai à la maison dans 20 minutes.
- Where are you ?
- I'm leaving Paris now, I'll be home in 20 minutes.
Thinking...