Faillir + infinitive = I almost did something

Look at these sentences:

J'ai failli le faire, mais je me suis retenu.
I almost did it, but I stopped myself.

Tu as failli y rester.
You almost died [lit. you almost remained there].

Il a failli tomber.
He almost fell.

Ta mère et moi avons failli ne pas nous marier.
Your mother and I almost didn't get married.

Vous avez failli lui dire la vérité.
You almost told him the truth.

Ils ont failli avoir un accident.
They almost had an accident.

In French, to express the idea that you almost did something (but didn't), you will use the verb faillir as follows:

faillir + [infinitif]

Note that the verb faillir is usually used in Passé composé, as it refers to actions that "failed to happen".

ATTENTION: 

Though the verb faillir is etymologically close to the English to fail, it's not used to express failure, but a more neutral non-accomplishment.
Therefore, you wouldn't use it to say I failed to do [something].

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ta mère et moi avons failli ne pas nous marier.
Your mother and I almost didn't get married.


Il a failli tomber.
He almost fell.


Ils ont failli avoir un accident.
They almost had an accident.


J'ai failli le faire, mais je me suis retenu.
I almost did it, but I stopped myself.


Vous avez failli lui dire la vérité.
You almost told him the truth.


Tu as failli y rester.
You almost died [lit. you almost remained there].


Q&A

Karen

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2018

2 replies

In the test it seems strange to say that "he almost wrote his report"

Is this meant to refer to "who has almost finished writing his report"?  Thank you!

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

26 July 2018

26/07/18

Hi K,


I believe this example has now been removed....

Karen

Kwiziq community member

27 July 2018

27/07/18

Dear Cécile,


no, it's still there.



Regards, Karen

Let me take a look at that...