TNs, U67: Verbs: Infinitive 3(Impers. Expr., Causative Faire, Past Participle Usage, Confusing Verbs
As you learned before, an infinitive can act as a noun (where gerunds might be used in English).
- Faire du café est facile. — Making coffee is easy.
- Cuisiner et nettoyer sont ses responsabilités. — Cooking and cleaning are his responsibilities.
When you use the impersonal construction il est + adjective + de, keep in mind that il must be a dummy subject. If it's a real subject, you must use à instead of de.
- Il est impossible de vivre sur cette île. — It is impossible to live on that island.
- Il est facile de comprendre le livre. — It is easy to understand the book.
- Ce problème est difficile à résoudre. — That problem is difficult to solve.
- Écrire un livre ? Il est difficile à faire. — Writing a book? It is difficult to do.
In informal usage, c'est tends to replace the impersonal il est, but it is an improper use of ce/c’ which is indefinite but not impersonal.
- C'est difficile de terminer ce travail en une journée. — It's hard to finish that work in one day.
- C'est mieux d'éviter cette zone. — It's better to avoid that area.
Recall from "Verbs: Infinitive 1" that faire may precede a verb to indicate that the subject causes that action to happen. This is especially common when describing food preparation.
- Il fait bouillir le thé. — He boils the tea.
- J'aime faire griller du poulet. — I like grilling chicken.
- Ils font pousser des fruits et des légumes. — They grow fruits and vegetables.
Past Participle Usage
As you learned in "Verbs: Compound Past 1 & 2", the passé composé is formed with an auxiliary verb (e.g. avoir) and a past participle (e.g. terminé).
- Il a terminé son travail. — He finished his work.
- Nous avons aimé ce repas. — We liked that meal.
As in English, a verb in the past infinitive appears in its past participle form after its auxiliary in the infinitive.
- Manger (infinitive present) -> Avoir mangé (infinitive past). — To eat (infinitive present) -> To have eaten (infinitive past).
- Aller (infinitive present) -> Être allé (infinitive past). — To go (infinitive present) -> To have gone (infinitive past).
Notably, the past infinitive is used after the verbs allowing a double-construction (e.g. aimer, vouloir, pouvoir, sembler, etc. re. Verbs: Present 1 Infinitives after conjugations and Infinitives and Verbs: Present 3 Verbs with À and De, when the action or state occurred before the action or state expressed by the main, conjugated verb.
- Il aime avoir terminé son travail. — He likes to have finished his work.
- Ils doivent être montés dans leur chambre. — They must have gone up in their rooms.
- Ces lettres semblaient avoir confirmé nos craintes. — Those letters seemed to have confirmed our fears.
However, past participles can sometimes also act as adjectives in both French and English.
- Elle est mariée. — She is married.
- C'est du temps perdu. — It is lost time.
- C'est ouvert au public. — It is open to the public.
- Il est actuellement fermé. — It is currently closed.
Keep this in mind for the next unit, where you will learn the passive voice.
Remember from "Verbs: Present 3" that manquer à means "to miss", but with flipped pronoun positions as compared to English. If it helps, you can think of manquer à as "to be missed by".
- Vous me manquez. — I miss you.
- Je vous manque. — You miss me.
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