The infinitive in French

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The infinitive in French

The infinitive (l’infinitif, in French), together with the participles, is an unconjugated form of the verb ; that is, a form of the verb that does not contain time, number, or person markers. French infinitive verbs can end in -er parler (speak), -ir finir (end), -re prendre (take) or -oir voir (see)

The infinitives form the base and are the first step we understand about verbs in the language. This is the purest part through which you then conjugate new constructions and form sentences.

How can you use the infinitive?

The infinitive is the basic, unconjugated form of a verb , sometimes called the noun of the verb. In English, the infinitive is the word to “a”, followed by a verb: to talk, to see, to return , (to speak, to see, to return). The French infinitive is a single word with one of the following endings: -er, -ir, or -re : parler (to speak) , voir (to see) , rendre (to return). The French infinitive can be used in several different ways without any conjugation. Note that it is often translated in English as the present participle:

  • As a noun – the subject or object of a sentence.
  • After a preposition (see verbs with prepositions).
  • After a conjugated verb.
  • Instead of the imperative for impersonal commands.

Infinitive without preposition

 Madame Durand ne sait oú mettre

Construction analogous to the Spanish one: Madame Durand does not know where to put… ”. This use of the infinitive is very frequent also in French, especially with the verb savoir (to know). The second sentence is always an indirect question: “what…, where…, how…”: Je ne sais que dire , (I don’t know what to say). It should be noted that not all verbs frequently use pas in the negative form , as are the cases of knowledge and power.

It is distinguished by its endings:

  • Verbs of the first group, in – er: chanter (to sing) , manger (to eat), aimer (to love …)
  • Second group, in – ir: réfléchir (to think) , finir (to finish) , rougir (to blush ) …
  • Verbs of the third group, in –ir, – oir, -re: voir (see), come (come), understand (hear) …

When are infinitives used in French?

The infinitive (l’infinitif, in French) is, together with the gerund and the participle, a non-personal form of verbs that is used in French after certain words and verb constructions.


  • avoir l’intention + de + infinitif → J’ai l’intention d’apprendre à jouer au tennis. vouloir + infinitif → Je veux acheter une bonne raquette.

The infinitive without a preposition is used, as in Spanish , after the verbs: pouvoir (power), vouloir (want), devoir (duty) , falloir (be precise) sembler (resemble), paraître (seem). Also after the verbs that express sensitive perceptions or that mean ” dire ” (to say), ” penser ” (to think) and “croire” (to believe)


  • Nous pouvons. Il veut, tu dois apprendre le français / (We can. He wants, you have to learn French)
  • J’ai vu les hommes travailler. / (I saw the men working).
  • Nous avons I thought aller à Paris / (We thought about going to Paris)

 In addition, something that does not happen in Spanish, verbs of movement are constructed with an infinitive without a preposition . In Spanish they lead “to”

Il est come nous voir / (He has come to see us)

How to conjugate infinitive verbs in French?

 To conjugate French verbs in the present tense, you have to remove the infinitive endings, -er, -ir, -re, and add the endings corresponding to each group. Most verbs ending in -ir are conjugated as finir.

The infinitive is an impersonal mood; expresses an action without indicating the person who performs it.

The infinitive with the preposition “of”

In Spanish we have some verbs that are constructed like this: “stop talking, be happy to see one, etc. In many other cases in which we use the subjunctive with “que” or other turns, the infinitive with ” de” is used in French , such as:

  • Sé hâter: Il se hâte de coming / (hurries to come)
  • prier: Je te prie d’entrer / (I beg you to come in)
  • menacer: On menaçait de làttaquer / (they threatened to attack him)
  • come: Je viens de le voir / (I just saw you)
  • tâcher: Tâchez de ne pas rire / (try not to laugh)
  • proposer: On lui propose to depart / (they propose that you leave)
  • décider: Nous sommes décidé de rester / (we are determined to stay)
  • demander: Je lui sue de me pardonner / (I ask you to forgive me)

The infinitive with “à”

 In many cases it is used as in Spanish. In many others, however, no. It is said, for example, commencer à , (start at), but chercher à (try to)

General rules for using the infinitive with à

 To express the purpose, such as:

  • On te donne à boire / (they give you a drink = something to drink)
  • Elle este prête à rendre service   / (She is willing to provide service)

To express an action, in which one lingers

  • Le père l’aide à faire ses devoirs / (The father helps him do the homework)

As object of the action of certain verbs:

  • Commencer: il commence à pleurer / (It starts to rain)
  • Aimer: il aime à lire / (like to read)
  • Apprendre: il apprend à écrire / (Learn to write)
  • Chercher: il cherche à s’imposer / (tries to impose himself)
  • Réussir: il réussit à se débrouiller / (manages to fix it )

Many infinitives have been transformed into names and are used preceded by a determiner:

  • Le déjeuner
  • (lunch
  • Dîner /
  • (dinner)
  • Souvenir /
  • (the memory)
  • I pouvoir /
  • (the power)
  • Le rire   / (laughter)

Conclusion : Infinitives may seem basic, and they are, but always remember that it is the basic things that lead to something great and glorious.

Something also very important to bear in mind is that it is essential to demonstrate your level of any foreign language. Here we leave you the platform number 1 .

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