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Il commence à pleuvoir

Why do we have the sentence 'Il commence à pleuvoir' when pleuvoir means (to) rain? Shouldn't it be just 'Il commence pleuvoir'?

April 11, 2020



Well, no. French is not a word-for-word translation of English. Different rules apply. 'Commencer' takes the preposition 'à' (or 'de').


ah, I see. Thank you.


Certain French verbs are followed by the preposition à, for example:

commencer (begin)
---- Je commence à danser.

aider (help)
---- J'aide à cuisiner.

apprendre (learn)
---- J'apprends à skier.


"il commence à pleuvoir" = it's starting TO rain, words for words (i know it's not the 100% correct form, i just hope that if i say it like this you understand better) .

il commence à quoi ? (it starts to what?) = à pleuvoir/to rain. when you build a sentence with that structure you have to put the little word "à" to indicate what's happening (you can replace "pleuvoir" with a lot of words), i understand why it doesn't make much sense to you but it's just how it is, it sounds wrong and incomplete to say "il commence pleuvoir", it's as if you said "it's starting rain", you feel me ?


I feel you. Il commence à quoi? Il commence à pleuvoir. Thank you for your thorough and easy to remember explanation.


this is french and in french there are verbs which have prepositions - what you have to learn

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