TNs, U15b Verbs: Present 1(Il faut, Aller, Movement, Opinion, Ability, Perception, Il faut+

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The impersonal il faut:

  • Il faut manger des bananes — One must/needs to/has to eat bananas (We/You must/need to/have to eat bananas or It is necessary to eat bananas).

Aller in the near future tense:

  • Je vais manger. — I am going to eat.
  • Vous allez lire le livre. — You are going to read the book.

Verbs of movement: aller, courir, descendre, entrer, monter, partir, retourner, revenir, sortir, venir

  • Elle va/court/vient… faire ses devoirs. — She goes/runs/comes… to do her homework.

Verbs of opinion: croire, espérer, oser, penser, souhaiter

  • Bob croit/espère/pense… changer le monde. — Bob believes/hopes/thinks… he will change the world.

Verbs of ability: pouvoir, paraître, rester, savoir, sembler, vouloir

  • Tu peux/sais/veux parler allemand — You can/know how to/want to speak German.
  • Vous semblez/paraissez avoir froid — You seem/appear to be cold.

Verbs of perception: écouter, entendre, regarder, sentir, voir

  • Ils vous écoutent/entendent chanter — They listen to/hear you sing.

Other conjugated verbs need a preposition to introduce another verb in the infinitive, typically “à” or “de”, or possibly several alternative prepositions with different meanings. There is no rule of thumb to know which verb needs one or another preposition, so constructions have to be learned as you go.

  • Tu apprends à lire — You learn to read.
  • Vous essayez de parler français. — You try to speak French.

More about Il faut

A few defective impersonal verbs can only be used in impersonal statements and must be conjugated as third-person singular with il. Remember that il is a dummy subject and does not refer to a person.

Falloir means "to be necessary", and in the present tense, it takes the form il faut + infinitive or noun. The meaning of il faut extends from necessity to needs and obligations. It is very versatile and common both in writing and in spoken French.

  • Il faut manger. — It is necessary to eat. / One must/needs to/has to eat.
  • Il faut choisir. — It is necessary to choose. / One must/needs to/has to choose.

Il faut can also be used transitively with a noun to indicate that something is needed.

  • Il faut du pain. — (Some) bread is needed.

This type of impersonal verb does not exist in English and the translation may change depending on the target audience and context. Il faut can mean we/you/they/I must/need to/have to do something.

However, il faut never translates to “he must/needs to/has to”. Later you will learn about inserting an indirect personal pronoun which specifies directly who must/needs to/has to do something.

Here is a broad example without context that can interpreted a number of ways:
Il faut faire ça. — “It is necessary to do that” or “We/You/They/I must/need to/have to do that” or “One must/needs to/has to] do that” or even “That has to be done”.

This next example is more specific:
Il faut diminuer la quantité de sucre que nous mangeons. — “It is necessary that we decrease the quantity of sugar that we eat” or “We must/need to/have to decrease the quantity of sugar that we eat”.

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2 months ago

1 Comment
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These notes are clear, precise and very useful. Thank you.

2 months ago
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