On Location French – 26 Nov 2012

121126-roseBonjour tout le monde! It’s Rose here writing from St Brieuc.

As I’ve been on holiday from school for a couple of weeks, I’m just back from visiting a friend in Paris. We had a great long weekend visiting art galleries, vintage shopping and drinking lots of chocolat viennois, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tried!

I thought this week I would write about the verb falloir – ‘to be necessary to,’ as I’ve been coming across it everywhere. At school back home, I mainly learned to conjugate this verb into the present tense – ‘il faut que’ meaning ‘it is necessary to/that…’ After just a short while in France I’ve noticed that French people use this verb in a variety of ways in day-to-day situations. I came across it most recently when going for breakfast at a bakery in Paris with my friend. As we queued up on a busy Saturday morning, the woman behind the counter asked us, ‘Bonjour, vous savez déjà tout ce qu’il vous faudra?’ This translates loosely as ‘Good morning, do you know everything you want already?’ However, it literally means ‘do you already know what will be necessary to you?’ It seems a bit more complicated for me as a learner using falloir in this way, but it seemed very natural to the lady in the bakery!

Another example comes from a meeting with my landlady where I had to give her some photocopies of my birth certificate, passport and work contract. Once I had done so, she said ‘Bon, on a tout ce qu’il faut’ – ‘Good, now we have everything we need.’

Many of my pupils also use it to tell me things like, ‘C’est l’heure, il faut qu’on y aille’ – ‘our hour’s lesson is up, we need to go.’ I’m still not used to not having school bells at the end of every lesson here and regularly keep them a few minutes late! I used to be a bit put off using falloir in sentences due to the need for subjunctives, which can be a bit tricky. Subjunctives are used in sentences with doubt or uncertainty, which ironically is quite confusing in itself. Since hearing French people use falloir and the subjunctive in some set expressions, however, I’ve realised that it’s really not as difficult as it seems at first. I’m now much more confident using falloir – I hope some of my examples here help you to try it out too! Il faut que j’y aille moi aussi maintenant! I need to be off too, so à la prochaine!

Leave a Comment