"Having a child is possible."
Translation:Avoir un enfant est possible.
Yes, it's because you cannot translate a gerund into a present participle that easily. Most similarly to German, that I see you are studying, "substantivisation" is done through the infinive (das Kindhaben: (the fact of) having a child). Compare, finally: the fact of having kids is le fait d'avoir des enfants. HTH!
You need to put 'de' before infinitives used as as adverbs. You can think of it like the "to" in English. 'De' doesn't seem to be used before French infinitives that work better as English gerunds.
Example: J'aime manger. Avoir un enfant est possible. (No 'de'. I like eating, having a kid is possible.)
J'ai besoin de cuisiner. (I need TO cook--"I need cooking" doesn't work.) C'est facile de parler. (It's easy TO speak.)
Hope this helps.
Firstly, it should be il est possible d'avoir un enfant (for an explanation see the note at the end of this text)
Now the reason the preposition de is required is to do with being able to distinguish dummy subjects from real subjects.
In English the following sentence is ambiguous:
It is difficult to eat.
The sentence could have a number of meanings. For example:
it could mean that because you have a sore throat, it is difficult to eat, in other words the act of eating is difficult. Here the word it is acting as a dummy subject
or it could mean that the lobster you have been served is difficult to eat. Here the word it is acting as a real subject, namely the lobster.
In French this ambiguity is removed by using the prepositions de and à
When you have structures of the form: il est + adjective + preposition + infinitive the choice of preposition depends on the type of subject:
When the subject is a real subject and the infinitive is used intransitively as a passive infinitive, you must use the preposition à:
Il est bon à savoir - That's good to know.
C'est difficile à faire. - That's hard to do.
When the subject is a dummy subject (il est acts as an impersonal expression) you need the preposition de, and there are two possible constructions:
impersonal expression + de + intransitive infinitive
impersonal expression + de + transitive infinitive + direct object
Il est difficile de parler – It is hard to speak. (the act of speaking is hard)
Il est important de dire la vérité. – It is important to tell the truth.
only il (not c’est) can be called an impersonal or dummy subject
if you have an impersonal dummy subject then you must use:
il est + adjective + de + infinitive
but never c'est + adjective + de + infinitive
whereas if you have a real subject you can use:
il est + adjective + à + infinitive
c'est + adjective + à + infinitive
How would one say in French: 'to have a child is...'? I wrote D'avoir un enfant est..., but DL didn't like that 'd'avoir'.
I'm not an expert, but the way I think of it is that the word "to" is already built into french verbs. So, this sentence really IS saying "to have a child..."
Ah yes, come to think of it, your reasoning makes perfect sense. Thanks much dkottas! Edit: B.t.w., I've now run the sentence 'to have a child is possible' through 6 different translators and 4 came up with the same translation as the one given by Duo for 'having a child is possible'. 'Nuff said ; )
Ok, so I may not be as advanced as everyone else here but doesn't avoir mean to see? How does that translate to "having"?
Is this 'avoir-before-the-verb does not require "de", but avoir-after-the-verb does' convention an irregular, "just memorize it" type thing? Or it there some larger rule?
Do infinitives in general require 'de' when placed after the verb, but not if they precede the verb?