"It is necessary to empty the bag."

Translation:Il faut vider le sac.

March 26, 2013

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Why is "c'est necessaire de vider le sac" incorrect?


it is incorrect, grammatically speaking, and it is more convenient and much quicker to say "il faut"


Why is "cest necessaire" incorrect grammatically speaking, though?


If you ask the question: "what is necessary?" you will get two answers:

"c'" + "vider le sac"

So, that's one too many.

Only "il" can be an impersonal, dummy subject and c' must be considered as a real subject.


Ah, I getcha. I think. Thanks.


Il est nécessaire de vider le sac.


How come "Il faut vider le sac" is correct, but you must add "faire" when saying "Il faut faire bouillir le thé"?


The issue is with verb "bouillir". We don't "boil things", we "make them boil".


I guess I understand that, but are we not also "making the bag empty"? Can you give me some examples of other verbs that would require "il faut faire"?


Well, when we boil water, we MAKE them boil, but we empty the bag, meaning the action that WE do


«Il faut qu'on vide le sac» is also accepted.


Why is "Il faut DE vider le sac" wrong? In other sentences "de" is required in front of the verb. Which one is the rule to follow?


"il faut" works like a modal verb, ie directly followed by a verb in infinitive: il faut vider


Why is 'il est' correct but not 'c'est'?


The impersonal construction is built with "il", not "ce".

  • il est nécessaire de vider le sac
  • c'est nécessaire.

These two are correct, but "c'est nécessaire de/que" is not proper French.


I said "il doit vider..." but was marked incorrect. The correct response was "on doit vider...". Help?


'il' would mean a fairly specific thing required the action whereas 'on' is a more impersonal one/someone/anyone. This English sentence is framed in a similarly general manner. There is no actual it making a request here. So while 'on' is not usually a word for word translation of 'it' it's use here is far closer in spirit to the meaning of the English sentence taken as a whole.

In summary it is that peculiar English usage of 'it' when there is nothing really there to be an 'it' that is fooling you, not so much your French! :)


If you look below Sitesurf explains that the French have a similar impersonal "it" but only with "il faut" not for "il dois".

Rules within rules. We learn, we practice - eventually we will get them all!


So to recap, "il faut" and "on doit" are correct, but "il doit" is not correct – am I right?


il faut = impersonal "il" = it is necessary = impersonal "it"

il doit = he must, he has to, he needs to

he must, he has to, he needs to = il doit, il lui faut, il a besoin de


What does ---On--- mean in french ?


It means "we" or "one" .

We eat. One eats.


What's the meaning for faut..?


"il faut" is a defective verb that exists exclusively as an impersonal phrase with "il" to express a need, an obligation, a duty...

il faut vider le sac = the sack/bag has to be emptied or you/we need/have to empty the bag


I got il est nécessaire vider le sac wrong as il est nécessaire DE vider le sac is correct. Please explain?!


The construction "Il est nécessaire" is always followed by "de" and an action in the infinitive. It's similar to English - we say "it's necessary TO empty the bag", rather than "it's necessary empty the bag".


C'est nécessaire de vider le sac - marked wrong...... So, how would that be translated back into English? - if not "It is necessary to empty the bag."?


The back translation would be: "this is necessary to empty the bag", which has another meaning (this thing is necessary in order to empty the bag).

What makes "c'est nécessaire de vider le sac" improper is the fact that if you ask the question "what is necessary?", you end up with 2 subjects for the same verb: "c" is necessary and "vider le sac" is necessary. This is why it is not a correct construction, even though the French use it massively in speech (and in informal writing).

Remember that c' is a real subject and that impersonal phrases (matching English impersonal phrases with "it") need "il".


Thank you for an excellent explanation. I have copied and pasted that into my French notes.


In the learning process it is somewhat disheartening when one comes across the constant switching of meaning that is attached to an apparently innocuous little word like 'il'. On it's own it means 'he' or 'it'. 'faut' means 'must' (forget about 'doit' for a moment). However, when 'il' and 'faut' are put together they do not mean 'he must' or 'it must', they mean 'It is necessary', and if one adds 'savoir' to the sentence it suddenly becomes, 'you need to know', and if you then replace 'savoir' with 'faire attention' it now becomes 'be careful'. I can't quit now. Not after all I've put into it, but this aspect of french sure makes me want to.


"faut" does not mean "must" but "is necessary" or "is required". It is defective, which means that it can only show in an impersonal construction with "il" which will never mean"he".

Any sentence having "il faut" will need an interpretation because there is no equivalent in English. So you have to get used to the various ways it can be adapted, because "il faut" is the 14th most frequent French verb.


Thank you, Sitesurf, for your concise clarification. Makes sense now.


c'est nécessaire de vider le sac

ça marche aussi! je suis française!


C'est en effet une formulation qu'on entend beaucoup, mais qui est grammaticalement incorrecte.

Le pronom impersonnel de la langue française est "il": il est nécessaire de... ou il est nécessaire que...

"C'est" a un sujet réel: "ce/c'" signifie "ceci" ou "cette chose" et en tant que pronom démonstratif, il ne doit pas servir à construire des formules impersonnelles.

De même qu'on ne dit pas "ceci est nécessaire de vider le sac", ou "cette chose est nécessaire de vider le sac", vous ne devez donc pas employer "c'est" dans cette phrase.


je le comprends. Merci


Those triple choices are so predictable. Pick the most common word occurrences and it gives the right answer even if you don't know it!


"il faut qu'on vide le sac" is marked as wrong! Why?


This is accepted now, thanks.


I put la poche which I thought meant pocket, or bag, sack, etc. Is this incorrect usage?


"Une poche" can be a small paper or plastic bag. You would be understood in the South of France, but not in Paris, where they use "un sac".


Thanks for that. Don't want to make that mistake.

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