https://www.duolingo.com/Xamaranth

Is there a rule for a or de after infinitives?

Or do you have to learn the prepositions for the infinitives by heart?

August 11, 2017

44 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/jolynnedougherty

It sounds overwhelming to think about memorizing them. For me, what I have found to work is to just do Duolingo everyday. Read a little French. Do the reverse tree. It is in the consistency of hearing and reading them over and over that they have just become natural to me. It is not a fast process and takes more time than I want it to, but I feel like it is becoming more natural. Same thing with "memorizing" the genders of nouns. Bonne chance dans vos études.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux

This is the number one reason that I did the reverse tree.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jolynnedougherty

Just curious why this was downvoted.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/kkayda

Because some people can't help but be nay-sayers, unfortunately

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux

I don't know. The downvotes seem to be random at times. You are upvoted now, so it balanced out.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Xamaranth

My French teacher said that a is used for positive verbs and de is for negative verbs. Maybe this can be used somewhat to guess what preposition follows the verb.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jolynnedougherty

I pulled out my list of verbs followed by the preposition à and de and have to respectfully disagree with your teacher. Renoncer à - to give up and se résigner à - to resign oneself to something seem on the negative side and choisir de - to choose, and remercier de - to thank for seem on the positive side to me. I am following this discussion and if I ever do find an answer for you, I will share it here.

August 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux

You have to learn them. Often a or de go before the infinitives. Some verbs require a or de after and other verbs can be followed by either a or de but have different meanings depending on which one you use. There are many lists online about this. It's also worthwhile writing down those that you come across on Duolingo.

EDIT: As many of us have struggled with figuring out the logic of which prepositions to use, here are some more links which are a good place to start:

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

By heart. Prepositions like this is quite possibly the hardest point of French grammar for me. There is no logic or rules, it's virtually 100% a matter of memorization.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

It may not be that hard. You only learn the ones that differ from English. These two examples are similar in English and French:

  • Talk to someone = parler à quelqu'un
  • Talk of someone = parler de quelqu'un

Whenever you see a difference, like 'try to' = 'essayer de', or 'think of' = 'penser à', you memorise it. Just like we do for 'look at' = 'regarder' and 'listen to' = 'écouter' at the very beginning of our journey. If you only focus on the exceptions, it is not overwhelming.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Sorry but what exactly are the exceptions? I thought all verbs were followed by «de» or «à» or nothing, and it seems almost as random as noun genders... it's mostly the less common verbs I have trouble with, I'm never sure which to use. ''Succeed to'' - «reussir de»... how to know that? Why not «reussir à»?

For penser and parler, actually I learned surprisingly without much problem... I quickly realized applying rules or overthinking and certainly English comparisons would cause me immense confusion... but the verbs were common enough that I was able to let the feeling develop naturally. But how is ''think of'' - «penser à»? Je pense à ma mere - I am thinking about my mother. Natives do say ''think of'' sometimes, but in general ''think about'' is better English in this sense.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

The exceptions = when English and French do not match.

We say 'réussir à', by the way. So it works like in English, and you do not need to memorise it as an exception.

Of course, 'think about' is very common. I do not think it is better English than 'think of', though, but what do I know? ;) Also, they have a slightly different meaning, to me. 'Think of it' and 'think about it', for instance. The way I see it, thinking about something takes more time than only thinking of it. In that case, I would translate 'think of' with 'penser à' and 'think about' with 'réfléchir à'.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Oops, I remembered wrong from my last thread... yes, reussir à. In general, «à» is ''to'' in English? I hadn't actually thought about its translation before, so maybe that would help.

The sense is indeed different. As for ''think about'' being better English in this sense, that probably wasn't right, but the senses are indeed a bit different... in fact, ''thinking of'' in this sense is very commonly used for implying that she is in a bad condition, and we're perhaps a bit worried... whereas ''thinking about'' is closer to just rumination, and can be for any reason.

For the other sense, penser de: «Qu'est-ce que tu penses de ta mere ?» What do you think of/about your mother? This creates yet another sense entirely different - this one is about opinions. A good rephrase: what is your opinion about your mother? I'm not the English grammar king, but I consider both ''of'' and ''about'' fairly equally acceptable here, and they don't really change the sense. But could we say «qu'est-ce que tu pense à ta mere ?», or is it always «de» in the sense of opinions?

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

Hehe, yes, it would be 'de'.

After a verb, in general 'de' = 'of' and 'à' = 'to'.

Of course 'de' can also mean 'from', and 'à' can also mean 'at'.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

Penses-tu à elle ? = Do you think of/about her ?

Que penses-tu d'elle ? What do you think of her ?

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

So ''think of/about'' have significant overlap, unlike «pense de/à» which are strictly separate. Luckily I don't feel that particular verb is a problem. The prepositions had so many possible English/French translations depending on the sense that I kind of gave up translating them... that's if I ever tried :D I just looked at the list of verbs with the preposition «de» in front, and sadly the list of ''exceptions'' appears very long. This will always be hard... I will succeed... eventually.....

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

You will. In the meantime, when you are writing, keep checking WordReference, for instance. And when you are speaking: it is OK, we should understand you. You may not be misunderstood too often.

Of course, if you want to say, 'If only you knew how much I think of you' and you say: 'Si tu savais ce que je penses de toi', there will be a problem. ;)

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux

I wasn't sure what you meant by "de" in front. That could mean either before the verb or after it. Hope you don't mind me jumping in, but it helped me a lot when I realized that the de or a were as required by the verb before the preposition. You might not have this confusion but if you mistakenly think that it depends mostly on the verb that comes after the preposition, it would be hard to answer correctly.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Yes haha, that mistranslation could result in a punch... that said, how would we translate it? I have quite a few ideas, although I'm not sure which is best.

«Si tu savais combien je te pense»

«Si tu savais combien je pense à toi»

«Si tu savais combien de temps je passe te pensant/pensant à toi» Is «je te pense» even possible? I don't remember ever hearing or seeing.

I think I will stick with my memorization plan for the rest, and use WordReference like you said.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

'Je te pense': not in that meaning, and not without something after it. 'Je te pense capable de le faire', for example, means 'I think you are able to do it.' It is formal, though. The informal version is closer to English: 'Je pense que tu es capable de le faire.'

Your correct version was: 'Si tu savais combien je pense à toi.' Since it was 'If only', we can say: 'Si seulement tu savais', etc.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcD50

The version with 'combien de temps' would be: 'Si (seulement) tu savais combien de temps je passe à penser à toi.'

Hehe, that is another meaning for 'à'. :)

'J'ai passé mon temps/ma journée à faire ça' = 'I spent my time/my day doing that.'

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Okay thank you.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Kangourex

There is a logic, but it's difference from your native language ^^ And i'm thinking the same with languages i'm learning

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageButcher

Can you share that logic?

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Kangourex

which one ?

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

It's not even comparable with English, let alone different. We mean the logic for choosing between de and a after verbs... there is logic? I've had to rely almost entirely on memorization here.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Kangourex

For me its logical to say "apprendre à lire" and not "apprendre de lire" ^^' As well for you "look" / "look at" / "look to" / "look out" / "look after" /"look about" etc.

And there are also verbs with à and de.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageButcher

Hmm, each of those words/phrases have individual meanings. I can explain to you the difference of each.

Look at: something in front of you (look at that mountain).
Look to: direct your attention to something (look to the future).
Look out: Be careful or look at some space, emphasis on space (Look out the meadow). We usually say "look out in/into the meadow" though.
Look after: take care of someone/something.
Look about: look in the surrounding area.

Can you do the same with each verb and its prepositions in french?

In your example, in English "I learn to read" means completely different from "I learn from reading." So it's not about one is logical to say and the other is not. If we know what we try to say, we should know which preposition to use.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Yes, I know some of them. I still don't see the logic. When applying rules is helpful, I do so, but this is an example where we have to manage without. The only option here is pure memorization. The English examples given have no explainable logic either.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux

This may be just a matter of our own first language often seeming logical. When we start to learn other languages, our assumptions start to be challenged. You start by memorizing as many expressions/chunks of meaning as you can, and then you may start to see some patterns which may then make it easier in the future.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Well not really, I don't think my first language can even be compared to a grammar point like this. I am a native English, and I couldn't explain any rules behind ''look at, about, after etc'' - it's purely a matter of memorization. It's the same here. I apply rules to my learning when I think it helps, but here I am not seeing that choice, thus I have no choice but to memorize. Penser and parler I managed without problems as after they were common enough to develop naturally without overthinking (and certainly without comparing to English), but for less common verbs I have more trouble.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux

Well, everyone has their own way of learning. I like to look for patterns if I can find them so as to reduce the amount of rote memorization required, but there is no one right way to learn that works universally.

It should be noted that Duolingo is a beginner's course and a vs de is listed as #2 in this list of top problems for advanced French learners, so it's hardly surprising that people here would be struggling with it. It also confirms what you are saying in that there are no easy answers in this case. https://www.thoughtco.com/top-advanced-french-mistakes-1369441

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux

I agree that prepositions are difficult and it can seem without logic, but I've really found the lists that include various categories to be helpful: destination (à) vs. starting point (de), purpose or use (à) vs. contents (de), and so on. I don't know if you'd call that an overarching logic, but there are patterns which can make it easier to memorize, or at least, that has been the case for me. It's still an overwhelming task, but it helps. This is one reason why I prefer to learn words in context as compared to just using one word flashcards. The surrounding words can change the meaning of a word completely.

August 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

To be honest I haven't really compared it to my native language. I find both illogical, in ways not really comparable. That said, the destination and starting point idea seems an idea that could potentially increase the chance of me guessing correctly, which is great, so I will certainly think about it.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Alexandre93260

Languages are not supposed to be logical. Sometimes it's like this, sometimes like that...The only solution you have to is to memorise them. :-)

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

That's exactly what I said.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Alexandre93260

;-) here is a few clues that may spare your memory :

"à" --> would be generally a people or a place. Je vais à Paris, je donne une pomme à Jean, je vais au magasin. "apprendre à" is an exception. You learn to do something. Apprendre à parler. "apprendre de" is learn something from someone. J'apprends beaucoup de toi. "de" --> would be generally a thing. Je parle de l'amour, Je bois du café tous les jours...Mais ce matin, je bois UN thé. "chez" --> someone's place. Je vais chez le coiffeur, je vais chez le boucher... "pour" --> for someone . Un cadeau pour toi. Une lettre pour ma soeur.

Hope that helps...feel free to ask if you need more tips.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Okay thank you.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

I won't lie, I still don't fully understand the logic/rules between de and à. But do you think my original pure memorization plan of no rules no logic method is possible here? Native speakers generally don't apply many rules I think.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Alexandre93260

Please give me some examples of french sentances which are illogical from your point of view and I will try to explain why it is like this.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Most of French grammar rules can be applied and used well. The problem stated in this thread is common and mine - knowing whether to use the preposition «de» or «à» after a verb... for example, «reussir à», «conseiller de», «arrêter de»... what's the difference? From what I gather there is little to no logic here, and no logic I've found applicable. Same with noun genders obviously. Is there hidden logic, or would it be better for me to do like natives and go for pure memorization? That's what I did for parler and penser, and I learned their following prepositions easily.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Alexandre93260

Hmmmm..... Depending of what your sentence mean, you have to use "à" with your verb or "de", I would say that "à" generally means something to reach, and "de" used after a verb is more general. (about something) or sometimes you need nothing, for a thing which receives the action...

"Je parle le français" -> something "Je parle à toi " -> you are the destination of the action "Je parle avec toi" -> is also correct "Je parle de toi" -> this is another sense. You are the topic of the discussion

So you can say "Je parle de Duolingo à Jean", "je parle le français à Gérard", "je parle à Charles-Henri de la pluie et du beau temps" ,

About réussir : If you're talking about something that you've succesfully made, you will use nothing and say "J'ai réussi mon gâteau, j'ai réussi mes études..." If you use a verb, you will have to say "'J'ai réussi à faire un gâteau, j'ai réussi à étudier..." " "manger" : you eat a thing. . "manger une pomme". The sentences "manger à une pomme" or "manger d'une pomme" have no sense. I'm quite sure "eat to an apple" or "eat about an apple" would mean nothing to an english-speaker as well.

"conseiller de", "arrêter de" : is an action, but it is possible to "conseiller à", if you advise someone. "Je conseille à Jean d'arrêter de parler" . "Je te conseille de manger"

"courir" : you cannot "courir de", "courir à", but you can "courir vers" or "courir avec". Je cours vers la mer. Je cours avec toi.

Conclusion : I think it depends of what the verb mean.

August 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

Nice lesson on prepositions... although I don't think I can apply it, sadly. I think I will stick with my memorization plan.

August 13, 2017
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