Tex's French Grammar
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prepositions with infinitives
page: pre4
1. à + infinitive
  2. de + infinitive
  3. pour, afin de, avant de, sans, par + infinitive
  4. après (past infinitive constructions)

The infinitive is the verb form generally used after a preposition in French. À (to) and de (from, about) are the most common prepositions in French. In many expressions, the choice of the preposition à or de before an infinitive is purely idiomatic; that is, it is unrelated to meaning. In such cases, one must memorize which preposition is used.

à + infinitive
When the following verbs are followed by an infinitive, the preposition à is required.

Tex a du mal à trouver l'inspiration.   Tex finds it difficult to find inspiration.
aider à, to help to   encourager à, to encourage to
s'amuser à, to have fun at   s'habituer à, to get used to
apprendre à, to learn to   hésiter à, to hesitate to
arriver à, to succeed in, to manage to   inviter à, to invite to
s'attendre à, to expect to   se mettre à, to start to
avoir du mal à, to find it difficult to   se préparer à, to prepare to
chercher à, to try to, to attempt to   renoncer à, to give up
commencer à, to start to   réussir à, to succeed at
continuer à/de, to continue to
(either à or de)
  servir à, to be used for
se décider à, to make up one's mind to   tenir à, to be anxious to, to be eager to

de + infinitive
When the following verbs are followed by an infinitive, the preposition de is required.

Tex arrête d'écrire, parce qu'il rêve d'embrasser Tammy.   Tex stops writing, because he is dreaming of kissing Tammy.
(s')arrêter de, to stop   oublier de, to forget to
choisir de, to choose to   permettre (à quelqu'un) de,
to permit someone to
conseiller de, to advise to   persuader de, to persuade to
se contenter de, to content oneself with   se presser de, to hurry to
continuer à/de, to continue to
(either à or de)
  promettre de, to promise to
décider de, to decide to   proposer de, to propose to
s'efforcer de to try hard to, to endeavor to   refuser de, to refuse to
essayer de, to try to   rêver de to dream of
s'excuser de, to apologize for   se soucier de, to care about
finir de, to finish   se souvenir de, to remember to
mériter de, to deserve, to be worth    

Most idiomatic expressions with avoir also require de + infinitive:

Oh, Tex a l'air de rêver.   Oh, Tex seems to be dreaming.
Tex a peur de se réveiller.   Tex is afraid of waking up.
Tex a envie de dormir.   Tex feels like sleeping.
Tex a besoin de se reposer.   Tex needs to rest.
Tex a honte d'être américain.   Tex is ashamed of being American.
Tex a tort d'être susceptible.   Tex is wrong in being touchy /
should not be touchy.
Tex a raison d'être fier.   Tex is right to be proud.

The infinitive may be used to complete the sense of an adjective or a pronoun. Generally infinitives following a noun or adjective are preceded by the preposition de. (Tex est content de voir Tammy dans ses rêves érotiques. Tex is glad to see Tammy in his erotic dreams.)

However, adjectives and nouns are followed by the preposition à + infinitive to indicate a passive sense or a function: "cette eau est bonne à boire" (this is drinking water), "ce livre est amusant à lire" (this book is fun to read), "c'est triste à voir" (it's a sorry sight), "c'est difficile à dire" (this is difficult to say).

pour, afin de, avant de, sans, par + infinitive
The infinitive expresses purpose when it is used after pour or afin de (in order to).

In the case of avant de (before) and sans (without), the English translation is often a conjugated verb (before they left), or a present participle (without speaking), rather than the English infinitive.

The infinitive follows the preposition par (by) after the verbs commencer (to start) and finir (to finish).

pour/afin de   Tex s'allonge sur son lit pour lire.   Tex lies down on his bed to read.
avant de   Avant de s'endormir, Tex lit toujours un poème érotique.   Before going to sleep, Tex always reads an erotic poem.
sans   Il ne peut pas dormir sans rêver de Tammy.   He can not sleep without dreaming of Tammy.
par   Il finit par rêver de Tammy toute la nuit.   He ends up dreaming of Tammy all night long.

après (past infinitive constructions)
The infinitive of avoir or être plus the past participle of a verb is used after the preposition après (after) to describe a preceding action in the past. Note the past participle agreement in past constructions with être.

Après avoir rêvé de Tammy, Tex retrouve son inspiration.   After dreaming of Tammy, Tex finds his inspiration again.
Après être devenue la muse de Tex, Tammy est passée à la postérité!   After becoming Tex' muse, Tammy is immortalized!


fill in the blanks
Fill in the blank with the proper preposition: à or de (d').
1. Tex se met ______ travailler tous les soirs à 7 heures.

2. Tex et Tammy s'amusent ______ écouter de la musique cadienne.

3. Tex aide ses étudiants ______ apprendre le français.

4. Tammy invite ses amis ______ dîner chez elle.

5. Tex encourage ses étudiants ______ parler français.

6. Edouard a du mal ______ comprendre les habitudes culinaires des Américains.

7. Tex promet ______ rendre visite à Paw-Paw.

8. Bette essaie ______ draguer Tex.

9. Edouard refuse ______ manger des hamburgers.

10. Tex a honte ______ être américain.

11. Edouard propose à ses amis ______ dîner au restaurant français.

12. Joe-Bob oublie toujours ______ étudier.

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