Apprendre la Langue Française (102e partie): le verbe–falloir (usage et conjugaison au présent)


Source: french.about.com 

Falloir is an irregular impersonal French verb that is better known in its conjugated form: il faut. Falloir means “to be necessary” or “to need.” It is impersonal, meaning that it has only one grammatical person: the third person singular. It may be followed by the subjunctive, an infinitive, or a noun:

Il faut partir.  It’s necessary to leave.
Il faut que nous partions.  We have to leave.
Il faut de l’argent pour faire ça.   It’s necessary to have / You need money to do that.

When falloir is followed by an infinitive or noun, it may be used with an indirect object pronoun to indicate who or what needs whatever comes next:

Il faut manger.   It’s necessary to eat.
Il nous faut manger.   We have to eat.
Il faut une voiture.   It’s necessary to have a car.
Il me faut une voiture.   I need a car.

Falloir is used in a number of expressions, including:

ce qu’il faut – what is needed
Il a bien fallu ! – I/We/They had to!
s’il le faut – if (it’s) necessary
Faudrait voir à voir (informal) – Come on! Come off it!
Il faut ce qu’il faut (informal) – You’ve got to do things right

The impersonal pronominal construction s’en falloir means to be missing or short of something, as in “this action did not occur because something was missing”:

Tu as raté son appel, il s’en est fallu de 10 minutes.    You missed his call by 10 minutes.
Je n’ai pas perdu, mais il s’en est fallu de peu.    I very nearly lost (I didn’t lose, but it was close).

Conjugations
Present tense   il faut
Imperfect   il fallait
Future   il faudra

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