Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 77): le verbe – falloir (l’usage et les expressions)


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.

The French verb falloir is also used in many idiomatic expressions.

Avec ça, vous faut-il autre chose ? Anything else? Do you need anything else?

avoir ce qu’il faut (informal)
to have what it takes

ce qu’il faut
what is needed/necessary

Ce qu’il faut entendre ! The things you hear!

C’est juste ce qu’il faut. That’s exactly what we want/need, That’s just the right amount.

C’est plus qu’il n’en faut. That’s more than we need.

faire ce qu’il fallait pour + infinitive
to do just what’s necessary, to do the right thing in order to…

Faudrait pas qu’il + subjunctive (informal)
He’d better not …

Faudrait voir à faire/ne pas faire… (informal)
You’d better make sure you do/don’t …

Faudrait voir à ne pas nous ennuyer ! (informal) You’d better make sure you don’t cause us any trouble!

Faudrait voir à voir ! (informal) Come on!, Come off it!

Faut (pas) être gonflé ! (informal) It takes some nerve!

Faut-il donc être bête ! Some people are really stupid!

Faut-il qu’il soit bête ! He must be really stupid!

Faut dire qu’il est culotté (informal). You’ve got to/must admit he’s got a nerve.

Faut voir comment ! (informal) You should see what a job he’s made of it!

Il a bien fallu ! I/We had to!

Il aurait fallu + infinitive
I/We/You should have…

Il faudra au moins ça. We want/need at least that much.

Il faudra bien que + subjunctive
You’ll have to ___ some time, one day

Il faudrait avoir plus de temps. I/We need more time.

il fallait être
you/one/they must have been

Il fallait me le dire. You should have told me.

Il faut bien ça. We definitely want/need that much.

Il faut bien vivre/manger. You have to live/eat.

Il faut ce qu’il faut (informal). You’ve got to do things properly.

Il faut de tout pour faire un monde. It takes all kinds.

Il faut du temps/de l’argent pour faire cela
it takes time/money to do that | you need time/money to do that

Il faut entendre ce qu’on dise sur…You should hear the kind of things they say about…

il faut être
you/one/they must be

il faut le comprendre
that’s understandable

Il faut le faire. We/You have to do it, It has to be done.

Il faut le voir pour le croire. It has to be seen to be believed.

Il faut m’excuser, je ne savais pas. You’ll have to excuse me, I didn’t know.

Il faut voir comment tu t’y prends, aussi ! Look at how you’re going about it though!

Il faut voir comment il … ! You should see the way he…!

Il faut vous dire que…
I must/have to tell you that…

Il lui faut quelqu’un pour + infinitive
He needs somebody to…

Il m’a fallu obéir. I had to do as I was told.

Il me faudrait…, s’il vous plaît
I’d like…, please

Il me le faut absolument/à tout prix. I absolutely must have it, I’ve absolutely got to have it.

Il n’en faut pas beaucoup pour que quelqu’un + subjunctive
It doesn’t take much to make someone do something

Il ne fallait pas ! (in response to a gift) You shouldn’t have!

Il ne fallait pas faire ça, c’est tout. You shouldn’t have done it and that’s all there is to it.

Il ne faut pas être intelligent pour dire ça. That’s a pretty stupid thing to say.

Il ne me faut pas plus de…
I don’t need more than, it won’t take me more than…

Il va falloir le faire. We’ll/You’ll have to do it, It’ll have to be done.

Il vous le faut pour quand ? When do you need it for?

Il vous en faut combien ? How much/many do you need?

Quand faut y aller faut y aller ! (informal) A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!

Que faut-il leur dire ? What should I/we tell them?

Que vous fallait-il faire ? (formal) What did you have to do?

s’il le faut
if necessary, if need be, if I must

Son travail est fait faut voir (comme) ! (informal) You should see what a job he’s made of it!

Voilà ce qu’il lui faut ! That’s what he needs!

falloir que + subjunctive (fatalism)
___ would have to ___

Il fallait bien que ça arrive. Of course, that would happen; That was bound to happen

s’en falloir de
to be missing/short by

Il ne s’en fallait que de 50 centimes. He was only short by 50 cents.

Je n’ai pas perdu, mais il s’en est fallu de peu. I very nearly lost.

loin s’en faut !
far from it!

tant s’en faut !
far from it!

Tu as raté son appel, il s’en est fallu de 10 minutes. You missed his call by 10 minutes.

il s’en faut (de beaucoup) !
far from it!

il s’en faut de beaucoup qu’il soit heureux
he is far from happy, he is by no means happy

peu s’en faut
as good as, nearly

Il est prêt, ou peu s’en faut. He’s as good as ready, He’s just about ready.

Ça a coûté 100 € ou peu s’en faut. It cost nearly €100.

Peu s’en est fallu (pour) qu’il + subjunctive
He almost/very nearly…

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).


present tense il faut
imperfect il fallait
future il faudra

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 73): les verbes terminent part -ir (deuxieme groupe, conjugaison au présent)


Regular -IR verbs are the second largest category of French verbs.

The verb form that ends in -IR is called the infinitive (in English, the infinitive is the verb preceded by the word “to”), and -IR is the infinitive ending. The verb with the infinitive ending removed is called the stem or radical.

To conjugate an -IR verb in the present tense, remove the infinitive ending and then add the appropriate endings. For example, here are the present tense conjugations for the regular -IR verbs choisir (to choose), finir (to finish), and réussir (to succeed):

Pronoun Ending choisir > chois- finir > fin- ussir > réuss-
je -is choisis finis réussis
tu -is choisis finis réussis
il/elle -it choisit finit réussit
nous -issons choissisons finissisons réussisons
vous -issez choissisez finissisez réussisez
ils/elles -issent choisissent finisissent réusissent

Regular -IR verbs share conjugation patterns in all tenses and moods.

Here are just a few of the most common regular -IR verbs:

abolir – to abolish

agir – to act

avertir – to warn

bâtir – to build

bénir – to bless

choisir – to choose

établir – to establish

étourdir – to stun, deafen, make dizzy

finir – to finish

grossir – to gain weight, get fat

guérir – to cure, heal, recover

maigrir – to lose weight, get thin

nourrir – to feed, nourish

obéir – to obey

punir – to punish

réfléchir – to reflect, think

remplir – to to fill

réussir – to succeed

rougir – to blush, turn red

vieillir – to grow old

There are two groups of irregular -IR verbs:

1. The first group of irregular verbs includes dormir, mentir, partir, sentir, servir, sortir, and all of their derivations (repartir, etc). These verbs drop the last letter of the radical in the singular conjugations.

2. The second group of verbs includes couvrir, cueillir, découvrir, offrir, ouvrir, souffrir, and their derivations (recouvrir, etc). These verbs are conjugated like regular -ER verbs.

The rest of the irregular -IR verbs don’t follow a pattern – you have to memorize the conjugations for each one separately: asseoir, courir, devoir, falloir, mourir, pleuvoir, pouvoir, recevoir, savoir, tenir, valoir, venir, voir, vouloir.

Pronoun Ending dormir > dor(m)- Ending couvrir > couvr-
je -s dors -e couvre
tu -s dors -es couvres
il/elle -t dort -e couvre
nous -ons dormons -ons couvrons
vous -ez dormez -ez couvrez
ils/elles -ent dorment -ent couvrent

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 72): le verbe – savoir (l’usage et les expressions)


Savoir is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in conjugation and literally means “to know.” Savoir has different meanings in certain tenses as well as some other tricky aspects to it.

In general, savoir means “to know” in many senses that this verb is used in English, including

* to know a fact
Anne sait la date. Anne knows the date.

* to know by heart
Sais-tu ce poème ? Do you know this poem by heart?

* to know how (to do something)
Je ne sais pas nager. I don’t know how to swim.

* to realize
Il ne sait pas ce qu’il dit. He doesn’t know (realize) what he’s saying.

In the passé composé, savoir means “to learn” or “to find out”:

J’ai su qu’il avait menti. I found out that he’d lied.
Il n’a jamais su la vérité. He never found out the truth.

In the conditional, savoir is a very formal equivalent of “to be able to”:

Sauriez-vous me diriger vers… Could you possibly direct me toward…
Je ne saurais pas vous aider. I’m afraid I can’t help you.

Savoir is commonly confused with connaître, which also means “to know” but is used in different circumstances.

Savoir is one of a handful of French verbs that can be made negative with just ne, rather than ne… pas.

Je ne sais si je devrais le faire. I don’t know if I should do it.
Je ne saurais le faire. I wouldn’t know how to do it.

Conjugations (present tense)

je sais
tu sais
il sait
nous savons
vous savez
ils savent

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 45): le verbe – vouloir (l’usage et conjugaison au présent)


Vouloir is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in conjugation and has several different meanings, depending on the tense and mood it is conjugated into.

Vouloir indicates a strong will or command – “to want” or “to wish,” for example:

Je veux danser avec toi. I want to dance with you.
Voulez-vous parler? Do you wish to speak?
Je ne veux pas le faire! I don’t want to (I won’t) do it!

Vouloir can be used to express polite requests or desires in three different constructions.

In a question, for example:

Voulez-vous m’aider, s’il vous plaît? Will you help me, please?
Veux-tu t’asseoir, s’il te plaît? Please sit down.

In the conditional, for example:

Je voudrais du thé. I would like some tea.
Voudriez-vous venir avec nous? Would you like to come with us?

In the imperative, usually in the second person plural, to express an extremely polite request:

Veuillez m’excuser. Please (be so kind as to) excuse me.
Veuillez vous asseoir. Please sit down.

Vouloir bien means “to be willing to,” “to be glad to,” “to be good/kind enough to.”

Je veux bien le faire. I’d be glad to do it.
Elle veut bien l’acheter, mais il ne le vend pas. She’s willing to buy it, but he’s not selling it.
Aidez-moi, si vous voulez bien. Help me, if you would be so kind.

Vouloir dire means “to mean,” for example:

Que veut dire “volontier”? What does “volontier” mean?
Volontiers veut dire “gladly.” Volontier means “gladly.”

En vouloir à quelqu’un means to hold something against someone (be upset about something), for example:

Il m’en veut de l’avoir fait. He holds it against me for doing that.
Ne m’en veux pas! Don’t hold it against me!

Vouloir is followed directly by the inifinitive, with no preposition. For example:

Je veux le faire. I want to do it.
Nous voulons savoir. We want to know.

When vouloir is in a main clause with another verb in a subordinate clause, that verb must be in the subjunctive. For example:

Je veux qu’il le fasse. I want him to do it.
Nous voulons que tu le saches. We want you to know (it).

Here is the conjugation of the verb veux in present tense:

je veux nous vouvons
tu veux vous vouvez
il/elle/on veut ils/elles veuvent

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 32): les verbes terminent par -er (1er groupe, conjugaison au présent)


There are five main kinds of verbs in French: regular -ER, -IR, -RE; stem-changing; and irregular. Learning the rules of conjugation for each of the first three kinds of verbs will make it easier to conjugate regular verbs in each of those categories. Even more, the majority of French verbs are -ER verbs.

The verb form that ends in – ER is called the infinitive (in English, the infinitive is the verb preceded by the word “to”), and -ER is the infinitive ending. The verb with the infinitive ending removed is called the stem or radical. To conjugate -ER verbs, remove the infinitive ending to find the stem and add the endings accordingly.

To conjugate an -ER verb, remove the infinitive ending and then add the appropriate endings. For example, here are the present tense conjugations for the regular -ER verbs parler (to speak), donner (to give), and visiter (to visit):

Pronoun Ending parler > parl- donner > donn- visiter > visit-
je – e parle donne visite
tu – es parles donnes visites
il, elle, on – e parle donne visite
nous – ons parlons donnons visitons
vous – ez parlez donnez visitez
ils, elles – ent parlent donnent visitent

Regular -ER verbs share conjugation patterns in all tenses and moods.

French regular -ER verbs, by far the largest group of French verbs, share a conjugation pattern. Here are just a few of the most common regular -ER verbs:

aimer to like, to love
arriver to arrive, to happen
chanter to sing
chercher to look for
commencer* to begin
danser to dance
demander to ask for
dépenser to spend (money)
détester to hate
donner to give
écouter to listen to
étudier** to study
fermer to close
goûter to taste
jouer to play
laver to wash
manger* to eat
nager* to swim
parler to talk, to speak
passer to pass, spend (time)
penser to think
porter to wear, to carry
rêver to dream
sembler to seem
skier* to ski
travailler to work
trouver to find
visiter to visit (a place)
voler to fly, to steal

* All regular -ER verbs are conjugated according to the regular -ER verb conjugation pattern, except for one small irregularity in verbs that end in -ger and -cer, which are known as spelling-change verbs.
**Though conjugated just like regular -ER verbs, watch out for verbs that end in -IER.

All verbs ending in -er are regular except: (1) aller, which means “to go,” envoyer, which means “to send”; and (2) a small number of verbs where the irregularity takes the form of minor spelling adjustments necessitated by changes in stress in pronunciation. Regarding the latter, a number of otherwise regular -er verbs make minor changes to spelling or use accents to reflect changes in stress.

For example, the verb acheter (to buy) is pronounced ach’ter in its infinitive form and in other forms with a similar rhythm of pronounciation (achetons, achetais, acheté, etc.) However, in some forms of acheter, the second syllable is stressed, and in this case the stress is indicated by the inclusion of a grave accent: achète, achèterai. Stress of this sort is generally present when the following pattern occurs at the end of the verb’s stem: e + consonant + e. Where this happens, the stress is sometimes indicated by an accent (or by the change of an accent from acute to grave), and sometimes by doubling the final consonant, as in the case of projeter (to project). This verb is pronounced proj’ter in its infinitive form, but in cases where the stress is placed on the second syllable the effect is achieved by doubling the consonant, to give projette.

All conjugations show only in present tense here:

acheter meaning “to buy” (or other examples: geler meaning “to freeze”, peler meaning “to peel”)

j’achète nous achetons
tu achètes vous achetez
il/elle/on achète ils/elles achètent

jeter meaning “to throw” (or other examples: appeler meaning “to call,” rejeter meaning “to reject”)

j’jette nous jetons
tu jettes vous jetez
il/elle/on jette ils/elles jettent

céder meaning “to yield” (other examples: espérer meaning “to hope,” déléguer meaning “to delegate,” accélér meaning “to accelerate”)

j’cède nous cédons
tu cèdes vous cédez
il/elle/on cède ils/elles cèdent

Verbs with inifinitives in -yer, -cer, and -ger…

payer meaning “to pay” (other examples: ennuyer meaning “to annoy,” appuyer meaning “to lean”)

je paie nous payons
tu paies vous payez
il/elle/on paie ils/elles paient

commencer meaning “to begin (other examples: rincer meaning “to rinse”)

je commence nous commençons
tu commences vous commencez
il/elle/on commence ils/elles commencent

manger meaning “to eat” (other examples: déranger meaning “to disturb,” plonger meaning “to dive”)

je mange nous mangeons
tu manges vous mangez
il/elle/on mange ils/elles mangent