French Prepositions Before Infinitives

Certain French verbs must be followed by DE, À, or NOTHING when an infinitive comes next.  This lesson includes common verbs that you will likely use on a regular basis.  You can follow any of these verbs with regular or irregular infinitives.

TRÈS IMPORTANT:  Keep in mind that this is a lesson about verbs when followed by infinitives and not nouns.  

The following verbs can be followed immediately by a verb in the INFINITIVE form.  À and DE are not required.

aimerJ’aime VOYAGER et RENCONTRER de nouveaux gens.
I like TO TRAVEL and TO MEET new people.
allerQu’est-ce que tu vas FAIRE ce soir?
What do you want TO DO tonight?
espérerMa soeur espère TROUVER du travail dans sa nouvelle ville.
My sister hopes TO FIND work in her new town.
falloirIl faut TRAVAILLER pour gagner sa vie.
It is necessary TO WORK to earn a living.
pouvoirNous pouvons ALLER faire les courses ensemble.
We can GO grocery shopping together.
préférerVous préférez VENIR avec nous ou RESTER à la maison?
Do you prefer TO COME with us or TO STAY at home?
savoirIls savent NAGER et PLONGER.
They know how TO SWIM and how TO DIVE.
venirJe viens DÎNER chez toi ce soir.
I’m coming TO HAVE DINNER at your house this evening.
vouloirTu veux APPORTER le pain?
Do you want TO BRING the bread?

Verbs followed by À

These verbs must be followed by À when they are used before an INFINITIVE:

aider àJ’aide À FAIRE le ménage.
I help TO DO the housework.
apprendre àTu apprends À PARLER français?
Are you learning TO SPEAK French?
commencer àElle commence À CHANTER.
She is beginning TO SING.
inviter àNous invitons nos voisins À VENIR prendre le thé.
We are inviting our neighbors TO COME have tea.
chercher àVous cherchez À COMPRENDRE.
You are trying TO UNDERSTAND.

Verbs followed by DE

These verbs take DE when they are used before an INFINITIVE:

arrêter deJ’arrête DE PARLER.
I stop SPEAKING.   I’m not SPEAKING anymore.
avoir besoin deTu as besoin D’ÉTUDIER ces verbes.
You need TO STUDY these verbs.
avoir peur deMon frère a peur DE PRENDRE l’avion.
My brother is afraid TO FLY.
se charger deNous nous chargeons DE PRÉPARER la fête.
We’re taking care of PREPARING the party.
choisir deVous choisissez DE RESTER chez vous.
You choose TO STAY home.
décider deIls décident DE FAIRE une présentation.
They decide TO MAKE a presentation.
demander deJe demande DE SORTIR.
I’m asking TO GO OUT.
se dépêcher deTu te dépêches DE TE PRÉPARER.
You are hurrying TO GET READY.
dire deElle ne dit pas DE LIRE le livre en entier.
She’s not saying TO READ the whole book.
essayer deNous essayons DE TE COMPRENDRE.
We are trying TO UNDERSTAND YOU.
finir deElles finissent D’ÉCRIRE l’exercice.
They’re finishing WRITING the exercise.
offrir deJ’offre D’APPORTER leurs bagages.
I’m offering TO BRING their luggage.
oublier deTu as oublié DE FAIRE tes devoirs.
You forgot TO DO your homework.
permettre deÇa me permet D’ACCÉLÉRER.
That allows me TO SPEED UP.
prévoir deOn prévoit D’ANNULER la soirée si personne ne peut venir.
We are planning TO CANCEL the party if nobody can come. 
promettre deNous promettons DE RANGER notre chambre.
We promise TO CLEAN UP our room.
risquer deVous risquez DE TOUT PERDRE.


Note that when VENIR is followed by DE it changes meaning:

Je viens manger. = I’m coming to eat.
Je viens de manger. = I have just eaten.
These four verbs can be followed by both an indirect object and an infinitive.  In that case, À is used before the object and DE before the infinitive. It may be helpful to think of these verbs in this way:

👉demander À quelqu’un DE faire quelque chose
👉ask someone to do something

👉dire À quelqu’un DE faire quelque chose
👉tell someone to do something

👉permettre À quelqu’un DE faire quelque chose
👉allow someone to do something

👉promettre À quelqu’un DE faire quelque chose
👉promise someone that you’ll do something

Observe the following sentences:

👉Il demande à Jean de répondre.
👉He asks Jean to answer.

👉Il dit à l’étudiant de répondre.
👉He tells the student to answer.

👉Il permet à Jean de se lever.
👉He allows Jean to get up.

👉Il promet à maman de se coucher.
👉He promises mom he’ll go to bed.

What’s included in this free French prepositions before infinitives course?

👉STEP 1: Download and study your 5 page lesson.

👉STEP 2: Download your cheat sheet which is a handy one page reference document that lists all of the verbs from the lesson.

👉STEP 3: Read the list of verbs on the left, and in the spaces provided on the right indicate whether they’re followed by à, de, or nothing when used with infinitives. Next, fold the paper in half on the dotted line, and use it as a practice chart.

👉STEP 4: Exercise 1 – Fill in the blanks with À, DE, or NOTHING at all. Check your work using the answer key.

👉STEP 5: Use this Quizlet study set to practice memorising which verbs are followed by À, DE, or NOTHING. This set includes fun games and tests to evaluate your progress.

👉STEP 6: Translate – English to French translation exercise using all of the verbs from the lesson. Check your work against the answer key, but don’t worry if your translation isn’t exactly the same as mine. The essential part of this exercise is to use verbs followed by infinitives correctly.

👉STEP 7: Practice making your own sentences using the verbs you’ve learned with your set of 60 speaking cards. Each card indicates a subject, verb, and when necessary À or DE. Every time you pull out your set of cards to practice, you can use a different infinitive of your choice. Half of the cards feature different forms of negation:

  • ne…pas
  • ne…plus
  • ne…jamais
  • ne…rien

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