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

Bon courage!

    6 replies to "Newsletter Activity 5 – Il faut…"

    • Sally

      Aujourd’hui il faut que je fasse un pizza pour le dejeuner. Aussi il faut preparer pour le demain parce que mon mari et moi nous voulons faire une promenade dans les montagnes.

    • Alexander MacAllister

      Il faut que je revienne à la maison, toute de suite, car elle est en brulant… il faut vraiment sauver mes films et livres francais, n’import quoi. Sinon, qui concerne les voisins, il faut qu’ils se sauvent ils-même, il faut quand même fasse les priorités!

      • Radio Lingua Team

        Merci Alexander! A very good use of the impersonal structure “il faut” with a subjunctive (il faut que je revienne) and an infinitive (il faut sauver)! And on your last sentence you use the expression “quand même” after “il faut” and before the verb, which is excellent!
        But be careful that “quand même” does not trigger the subjunctive, so you should have used an infinitive: “il faut quand même faire…” You could also have said: “il faut quand même choisir ses priorités!”

    • Ruud Smid

      This impersonal structure can be followed by an indicative:

      Je suppose que vous voulez dire “by an infinitive” Newsletter 5

      • Ruud Smid

        The impersonal structure can be followed by an indicative (vous voulez dire by an infinitive)

      • Radio Lingua Team

        Merci, Ruud! Vous avez raison. Thanks for pointing this out to us.

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