"Il est difficile de terminer ce travail en une journée."

Translation:It is hard to finish that work in one day.

March 24, 2013

This discussion is locked.


how do I know when to use 'difficile à' and 'difficile de'?


"difficile à" is used when there is no direct object: "ce travail est difficile à faire".


wouldn't "ce travail" be the direct object in this case? i.e.: "il est difficile à faire ce travail"


You're right, I was not clear enough.

Your sentence is correct if you add a comma after "faire", then "ce travail" is stressed, but still subject of "est": "il (=ce travail) est difficile à faire, ce travail"

Now if you use the impersonal formula "il est difficile de...", "il" is not replacing travail, since the end of the sentence has to be "... faire ce travail" ("travail" is object of "faire")


Guidelines for choosing à or de in the following construct:

adjective / noun + preposition + infinitive

Consider the following English sentence : It is difficult to eat.

This sentence is ambiguous since it could have a number of meanings, such as:

• the act of eating is difficult (because I have a sore throat)
• the lobster that I am eating is difficult to eat

In French this ambiguity is removed by using de and à.

Generally, when the subject is a dummy subject you need the preposition de and when the subject is concrete you need the preposition à


Il est important d'étudier. - It is important to study (the word it acts as a dummy subject)
il est bon d'exercer - it is good to exercise (the word it acts as a dummy subject)
Il est difficile de manger parce que j'ai mal à la gorge - it is difficult to eat because I have a sore throat
le homard est difficile à manger - the lobster is difficult to eat
votre essai était difficle à lire - your essay was difficult to read

Also note that you use the structure adjective / noun + de + infinitive for something that conveys an abstract concept. Abstract nouns refer to intangible things, like emotions, feelings, ideals, concepts and qualities. Nouns like freedom, justice, love, beauty are abstract nouns.


Elle est prête à partir - She is ready to leave
Je suis triste de partir. - I am sad to leave (sadness is an abstract concept) chacun est libre de choisir - everyone is free to choose
vous êtes libre de partir - you are free to leave


Thanks. Very useful ;)


What is wrong with: 'it is difficult to complete this work in one day' ?


I think it should be accepted. Perhaps it needs to be reported?


"en UN JOUR" is also possible in this case? (as opposed to "en une journée")


Yes, it is possible.


Thank you. Is there any difference that we should be aware of?


No difference here, since "une journée" would stress the duration and "un jour" would stress the count (one day).


Thanks. This helps me a lot.


Not sure I see the difference between "task," which I put and was marked wrong, and "work."


Agree, I think 'this work' sounds a bit odd.


how about "terminate this work in a day" ?


i was thinking about using the verb terminate because when i see the terminer i remember to terminate


Why is it "en une journee" for in one day and not "dans une journee"?


Not ' stop' this work?


Is there any difference in sound between "ce travail" and "se travail" in this sentence?


Yes, but "se travail" is impossible,. If it were "his work", the French would be "son travail" (possessive adjective and not reflexive personal pronoun).


Does anyone know why it's "en une journée?" Is that simply the preposition that is used with "journée," or is there a larger rule to know?


Shouldn't it be correct to write "quit this job"?


That has a different meaning and would be "quitter ce travail" - I take this to be about some sort of task, like reparing a car.


I think it's fair to translate "it is difficult to terminate this work in one day"


Why is it wrong to translate the sentence as "it is difficult to stop this work in one day" ?


"terminer" does not mean to stop, but to finish, to end or to complete.


Wouldn't 'finir' work better for this context?


Either are good and the original sentence was written in French with "terminer".


why cannot it be task instead of work?


task = une tâche


Thanks.I hadn't come across that word.


How does one know to translate ce as that versus this


When "ce" is followed by a noun, it is a demonstrative adjective, masculine and singular.

The French demonstrative adjectives are:

  • ce chien = masculine singular, before a word starting with a consonant sound = this/that dog
  • cet homme / cet arbre = masculine singular, before a word starting with a vowel sound = this/that man / tree
  • cette femme / cette eau = feminine singular = this/that woman / water
  • ces chiens / ces hommes / ces arbres, / ces femmes / ces eaux = all plural forms.


Sitesurf, can you explain why "il est..." is used here and not "c'est..."?


In proper French and definitely in writing, the impersonal construction is "il est + adjective + de/que", and not "c'est + adj + de/que".

The grammatical reason is that ce/c' is a real subject (this/that) and not an impersonal pronoun (like "il/it").

For example, "il est facile de mentir" (it is easy to lie) is correct, but "c'est facile de mentir" (this is easy to lie) would have 2 subjects: What is easy? "c'" and "de mentir.

In spoken French, the improper construction with "c'est" is however massively used, but since we have to teach you proper French, we are trying to apply the rules.


Sitesurf: Thank you for the excellent explanation, as always.

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