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Compound nouns formed with [noun] + à + [infinitive] in French

In English we often simply squash two words together to make a compound noun ("dining room"), whereas in French the two words are always joined by a preposition (à, de, en). This lesson looks at those which are formed as [noun] à + [infinitive verb].

Learn about compound nouns with à + [infinitive] in French

Look at these examples:

J'ai une belle salle à manger.I have a nice dining room.

Il choisit une machine à laver.He's choosing a washing machine.

Elle joue avec une corde à sauter.She plays with a skipping rope.

Tu as une planche à repasser.You have an ironing board.

In French, compound nouns formed with [noun] + à + [infinitive] are often used to indicate function (salle à manger), similarly to the English structure -ing + [noun] (dining room)
J'achète une pomme à cuire.I'm buying a cooking apple.

-> Here the apple's function is to be cooked.

 

Also have a look at Compound nouns formed with prepositions à/de/en in French

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Examples and resources

J'utilise un fer à repasser.I use an iron. [literally: an ironing iron]
Elle joue avec une corde à sauter.She plays with a skipping rope.
Tu as une planche à repasser.You have an ironing board.
Il choisit une machine à laver.He's choosing a washing machine.
J'ai une belle salle à manger.I have a nice dining room.
J'achète une pomme à cuire.I'm buying a cooking apple.
Il a une machine à coudre.He has a sewing machine.
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