In this activity we’re going to have a look at the irregular verb falloir.
Falloir is an impersonal verb which means that it can only be conjugated in the third person singular (il) form giving il faut. It means “to be necessary”, “to need to do something” or “must”.
This impersonal structure can be followed by an infinitive:
- il faut travailler dur quand on est jeune – it’s necessary to work hard when we’re young
If we want to conjugate the second verb then we must add que and use the subjunctive:
- il faut que nous mangions tôt pour aller au cinéma – we must eat early to go to the cinema
Il faut can also be followed by a noun:
- il faut de l’argent pour partir en vacances – one needs money to go on holiday / vacation
Remember that the il here does not refer to anyone in particular but is similar to “one” in English or a general “you”.
Il faut faire attention could be translated as “one must be careful” or “you have to be careful”.
Mettez-le en pratique!
Try writing a statement about what you think “one must do”. If you’re struggling for ideas, perhaps you could start by translating these statements using the construction il faut…:
- one needs sun to be happy!
- it’s necessary to learn how to write when we are young
- we must go to work to earn money