Less formal

KarlB1Kwiziq community member

Less formal

The notes say that, “Il [pronoun] faut + infinitive = to need to [do something] OR must / to have to [do something],” sounds very formal in French. Is there a less formal way to say this sample sentence,  “Il leur faut quitter cet endroit”? 
Asked 3 months ago
MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer


although I think the lesson formatting is a bit confusing, the options listed at the end of the lesson are as Jim noted above. With slight differences in meaning or emphasis, there are also other options for expressing the idea.

Included as one option in these is using ‘ il faut que …’ with a subject pronoun … giving in this example ‘ Il faut qu’ils ( or elles, when appropriate ) quittent cet endroit ‘ which doesn’t need a change of verb from falloir ( or quitter ), but doesn’t retain the infinitive. 

It may or may not sound it to English speakers, but this sentence is definitely less formal than ‘ il leur faut quitter ….’ to French ears !

Note that ‘ il faut que ..’ uses the subjunctive in the 2nd clause, although for regular -er verbs, the subjunctive form is the same as the present tense form except with ‘nous’ and ‘vous’. 

If you do want to change verb from falloir or retain the infinitive quitter in less formal sentences ‘ ils ont besoin de quitter cet endroit ’ or ‘ ils doivent quitter cet endroit ‘ are options. 

You can’t move the indirect object pronoun in the personalised statement  - the verb form here  is ‘ (il) falloir qqc à qqn ‘ and the indirect object pronoun representing  ‘ à qqn ‘ precedes the verb as is required in French.


JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour Karl,

"Note that the latter structure sounds very formal in French! In everyday language, you would usually use one of the alternatives listed below.

 ATTENTION:Il faut ranger ta chambre.You must tidy your room.Il faut ranger sa chambre.You must tidy your room.-> In the first case, you refers to a specific person, therefore you need to use the possessive ta, whereas in the second case, you refers to people in general, and you'll use the impersonal possessive sa.See Using son/sa/ses to express possession with personne/tout le monde/chacun/il faut (French Possessive Adjectives)


And see also other ways to express necessity or obligation: 

Avoir besoin de = To need (French Expressions with avoir)

Conjugate devoir in the present tense in French (Le Présent)

and the more advanced usage of il faut:

Il faut que + the subjunctive mood (Le Subjonctif) in French"

The above copied and pasted from the very lesson that you have noted.

It seems to me that the lesson has already provided the other less formal options.

Bonne continuation 


KarlB1Kwiziq community member

Jim, perhaps I should have asked if the lesson provided sample sentence, “Il leur faut quitter cet endroit“ can be made less formal while keeping the use of, “Il faut.” 

The lesson provided some alternatives for restructuring the use of Il [pronoun] faut + infinitive while keeping the use of “Il faut.” However, I could not see a way to apply the alternatives suggested to restructure the sample sentence above (while keeping “Il faut.”)

Presumably one must use a different verb?

KarlB1Kwiziq community member

Thank you Maarten. 

The use of the subjunctive tense is above my current level of comprehension but am I right in thinking that would also be a more formal construction? The intent of my original question was simply to understand if there were a way to keep “Il faut” for that particular sentence and make it less formal. If the subjective tends to be more formal then I guess using an alternate verb is the way to go.

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor


‘ il faut que … ‘ is very common in everyday French speech ( even shortened in rapid speech to ‘ faut que … ‘ ), and for native French speakers using the subjunctive is completely natural and definitely not an impediment to its use. 

This is one of the easy situations as  ‘ il faut que ‘ always uses the subjunctive. 

 It certainly isn’t seen as ‘ soutenu ‘ (formal) by native French speakers.

Although close in meaning, and often overlapping when translated, there are nuanced differences in emphasis between the expressions, but you won’t be completely misunderstood by substituting either of the other two suggestions here. 

With that in mind, I think you have answered your own question very well now ?

Don’t worry too much about the subjunctive. I wouldn’t try to learn ‘the subjunctive’ as a topic in its own right at this ( or any ) stage !

As you come across the expressions, you will acquire them and learn the corresponding conjugation in context.  As far as frequency of use goes, ‘ falloir que ‘ and ‘ vouloir que ‘ are 2 commonly used expressions needing the subjunctive that are worth starting to incorporate from quite early on, I think. Don’t start by trying to learn every expression and verb conjugation without context !



Less formal

The notes say that, “Il [pronoun] faut + infinitive = to need to [do something] OR must / to have to [do something],” sounds very formal in French. Is there a less formal way to say this sample sentence,  “Il leur faut quitter cet endroit”? 

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