Infinitive in French
- 1.What is the infinitive of French verbs?
- 2.How many types of infinitives do exist in French?
- 3.Present infinitive in French
- 4.Past infinitive in French
- 5.Usage of the infinitive in french
- 5.1.As a noun
- 5.2.As an imperative
- 5.3.In an interrogative phrase expressing deliberation
- 5.4.In an exclamatory phrase
What is the infinitive of French verbs?
The infinitive in the French language is a basic form of the verb which does not have a subject, tense or number. There are 3 groups of verbs in French, each of them are classified by their endings:
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3|
|Regular verbs ending in - ER||Regular verbs ending in - IR||Irregular verbs ending in - IR ,- OIR , - RE|
How many types of infinitives do exist in French?
There are 2 types of infinitives in French language:
- L'infinitif présent (Present infinitive)
- L'infinitif passé (Past infinitive)
1) Present infinitive in French
The present infinitive (French l'infinitif présent) is a non-conjugated form of the verb and expresses an action in progress. The present infinitive can function as subject, as well as direct object.
The infinitive is used after most prepositions, such as avant de, pour, à, sans and afin de.
|avant de||je vais prendre mon petit-déjeuner avant de partir||I am going to have breakfast before leaving|
|pour||il va à l'armée pour apprendre le respect||he is going to the army to learn respect|
|à||je te donne cinq jours en plus à partir d'aujourd'hui||i give you five more days from now|
|afin de||il a acheté de la levure afin de faire préparer des crèpes||he bought baking powder in order to prepare some crepes|
|sans||je peux bien manger sans parler||I surely can eat without talking|
- J'aime aller au promenade chaque matin. = I like to walk every morning. (function as direct object)
- Il veut montrer ses résultat à ses parents. = He wants to show his results to his parents. (function as direct object)
- Lire est très important. = To read is very important. (function as subject)
- Passer du temps avec les amis nous fait beaucoup de plaisir. (function as subject)
2) Past infinitive in French
The past infinitive (French l'infinitif passé) is a compound form of the infinitive which has a notion of anteriority and expresses a performed action.
It consists of:
- the infinitive of the auxiliary verb avoir (to have) or être (to be)
- and the past participle of main verb.
|Past infinitive||avoir parlé||avoir fini||avoir dit||être parti(e)(s)||être devenu(e)(s)||être allé(e)(s)|
The verbs conjugated with the auxiliary verb "être" have to be agreed with the subject while verbs conjugated with "avoir" have to be agreed with the direct object.
The past infinitive is most of the times used after the preposition après.
Example of the past infinitive in sentences:
- Après avoir mangé mon croissant je suis allé à dormir = When I had finished to eat my croissant I went to sleep.
- Après avoir fini son travail il a appelé sa mère. = When he had finished the job he called his mother.
- Après être partie pour Paris elle est devenue heureuse. = When she had moved to Paris she became happy.
When there is two verbs in the sentence, you use the infinitive as the second verb like in English.
- j'aimerais parler au directeur. = I would like to talk to the CEO
Usage of the infinitive in french
There are many ways to use the present infinitive :
As a noun
If the subject is not expressed, the application of the infinitive is indeterminate. This is particularly the case when the infinitive is used to formulate an abstract thought, an action having an indeterminate and often hypothetical subject; the infinitive refers in this case to the verbal idea in itself.
In ordinary French, the use of the infinitive as subject is infrequent; it is more usual to use the infinitive as a dislocated term. you can also use the preposition "le fait de" when you want to use the past or present infinitive as a subject or to state a fact
- vouloir c'est pouvoir = where there is a will, there is a way.
- voter est un droit. = voting is a right.
- partir, c'est mon rêve. = go away, that's my dream
- boire de l'eau est nécessaire pour la vie. = drink water is a need for life.
- le fait de te voir heureuse me rend heureuse. = to see you happy makes me happy
- le fait d'avoir travaillé en Espagne est un grand avantage pour lui. = working in Spain is a big advantage for him
As an imperative
Choosing an infinitive in an imperative sentence, makes it possible to address a group of people more generally without aiming at a particular person. He has a more neutral and distant role. Sometimes, it is necessary to use courtesy before the infinive such as "prière de" "veuillez".
The imperative instead makes it possible to target a particular person and is much more direct by the notion of order that he introduces.
You use the infinitive as an imperative for: instructions for use or recipes and security rules.
- ne pas marcher sur le gazon. = do not walk on the grass.
- laissez cuire pendant trentes minutes. = cook for thirty minutes
- veuillez enlever vos chaussures. = please, pull off your shoes
- prière de ne pas faire de bruit. = please, do not make any noise.
In an interrogative phrase expressing deliberation
The infinitive is used to ask for a decision or for advice. It is sometimes followed by the present subjunctive.
- que faire ? = what shall I do ?
- où aller ? = where shall I go ?
- pourquoi partir aussi loin ? = why leave this far ?
- comment faire pour qu'il me parle ? = what shall I do for him to talk to me ?
- pourquoi être méchant, toi aussi ? = why you have to be this mean ?
In an exclamatory phrase
The infinitive is used to express a wish.
- finir et partir ! = to finish and leave !
- oh ! être jeune encore ! = oh, to be still young !
In causative construction, there is an important use of the verb "faire". the subject causes an action to be done by someone or something else so the conjugated verb is always followed by an infinitive.
- je fais chanter les enfants. = I make the children sing.
- il fait faire ce travail. = he has this work done
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