"Il nous fallait du feu."

Translation:We needed fire.

January 8, 2013

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/bucko

I'm confused by the grammar of this sentence. Does it translate (roughly) word for word as "fire was necessary for us"?

January 8, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

yes. "il faut" (past "il fallait", future "il faudra") is an idiom where "il" is not "he" . That is an impersonal construction meaning "it is necessary (to have)".

http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/devoirfalloir.htm

January 8, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/10756302

Can someone please explain the construction of the sentence to me?

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"fallait" = verb "falloir" in imparfait (past tense used for lengthy or repetitive actions and habits).

This verb is "defective" meaning that it is only used with impersonal "il".

Il faut expresses obligation or need: it is necessary / it is needed, primarily.

  • I must do it / I have to do it = il faut que je le fasse
  • I should do it / I ought to do it = il faudrait que je le fasse
  • I had to do it = il fallait que je le fasse

"Il faut" can also be "re-personalized" with the addition of a pronoun in its indirect form: il faut que je fasse = il me faut le faire (I have to do it)

  • we needed (some) fire / (some) fire was necessary to us = il nous fallait du feu
June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/LeandroNun13

Très bien!!

June 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/jcoombs1950

Sitesurf, I'm impressed that you're learning another language!

February 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

As you can see, I'm just an early beginner... ;-)

February 5, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/KatrinNissen

Robo-Marie sounds as if she sat on a cactus - "Il nous FAILLAIT du feu."

January 29, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/greatlanguages

Why "a" fire rather than "We needed some light." Where is the "a"??

November 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/BorealOwl

For me, it accepted the more cumbersome, "A light was necessary for us."

November 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/RikSha

I'm wondering about the same thing. 'We needed light' was wrong, yet one of the correct answers was 'We needed fire'.

December 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"du feu" is needed when you are cold or when you are a smoker.

"light" is "de la lumière", needed when it is dark.

December 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/RikSha

Ah, ok. Merci!

December 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidOldacre

I hate to tell you this, but it is rather normal for English speakers to say "we needed a fire" rather than "we needed fire" even if this is outside in the cool night air while we are camping.

I know that in this instance this does not fit the fine rules of French grammar, so it would have to be considered as an idiomatic response.

February 28, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/KenAndresen

"We needed to make a fire" would be a good idiomatic translation but was not accepted.

February 5, 2015
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