French Word of the Day

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013


to be necessary

Il faut payer avant de quitter le magasin.
It’s necessary (you have to) pay before leaving the store.

We suggest
Note that falloir is only used in the the third person.

FALLOIR: Un Verbe Très Important
Falloir is one important French verb. The funny thing is, you’ll never see or hear falloir very much. What you will hear is its third person conjugation il faut followed by an infinitive. It’s used all the time.

Just how important is this phrase? Think about how many times, in English, you say I’ve got to… or she’s got to … or they’ve got to… . You would probably find it hard to get through the day without using this construction. In French, you can communicate the same idea with il faut.

Consider these common statements:

  • I’ve got to go to the store: Il faut aller au magasin.
  • You have to do your homework: Il faut faire tes devoirs.

While the translations above drop the pronouns in favor of simplicity over precision, it is also possible to express the subject pronouns if they’re really important — but you’ll need to know the subjunctive form of the verbs that follow. Let’s translate the same statements above, preserving the pronouns:

  • I’ve got to go to the store: Il faut que j’aille au magasin.
  • You have to do your homework: Il faut que tu fasses tes devoirs.

Take our Essential French Verbs Quiz to find out.

Vocabulary Section: Verbs, Word of the Day