Translating the -ing form of verbs with L'Infinitif (not -ant)

Generally, when talking about an activity in English, we use either the -ing form of the verb or the 'to + verb' form:
 
E.g. Dieting is useful.  /  To diet is useful.
I love going on holiday.  /  I love to go on holiday.
 

Now look at these examples:

Faire un régime est utile.
Dieting is useful.  

J'adore aller en vacances.
I love going on holiday.

J'aime lire.
I like to read / I like reading.

Je déteste manger des épinards.
I hate to eat spinach / I hate eating spinach.

Note that in French, you will always use the infinitive in those cases.


Case of reflexive infinitives

Je déteste me lever tôt.
I hate getting up early.

Vous aimez bien vous promener.
You like going for a walk.

Basile adore se coucher tard.
Basile loves going to bed late.

Note that when the infinitive is a reflexive verb, the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous, se) matches the subject of the sentence (i.e. the person referred to).


See also Conjugate reflexive verbs in Le Futur Proche (aller + infinitive)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ne pas écouter est sa spécialité.
Not listening is his speciality.


J'adore faire du shopping.
I love to go shopping / I love going shopping.


Je déteste me lever tôt.
I hate getting up early.


Il aime lire.
He likes reading.  /  He likes to read.


Pose ce téléphone!
Se faire les yeux doux par écran interposé, si ça marchait, ça se saurait!

Put down that phone!
Making doe eyes with a screen in-between, if that worked, we would know!


Je n'aime pas nager.
I don't like to swim / I don't like swimming.


J'adore aller en vacances.
I love going on holiday.


Poser un lapin le jour de la Saint-Valentin, ça craint!
Standing someone up on Valentine's Day, that sucks!


Je déteste manger des épinards.
I hate to eat spinach / I hate eating spinach.


Faire un régime est utile.
Dieting is useful.  


Faire de l'exercice est fatiguant.
Exercising is tiring.


Basile adore se coucher tard.
Basile loves going to bed late.


Ils aiment dessiner.
They like drawing.  /  They like to draw.


Nous détestons marcher.
We hate walking.  /  We hate to walk.


J'aime lire.
I like to read / I like reading.


Vous aimez bien vous promener.
You like going for a walk.


J'adore regarder la télé.
I love watching telly.  /  I love to watch telly.


Q&A

dernier

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2018

1 reply

“Put down that phone! Making doe eyes with a screen in-between, if that worked, we would know!” what does this mean?

I don’t even understand the English translation. 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

22 August 2018

22/08/18

Hi Dernier,

It means simply you can't conduct a successful loving relationship if you are always staring at your phone ....

solveigh

Kwiziq community member

3 July 2018

2 replies

Bonjour, question... Je ne comprends pas pourquoi..... « Ils détestent jouent au foot » est correct.

Je pensais qu'on ne peut pas mettre ensemble deux verbes déjà conjugué. Est-ce que c'est  la Gerondif par chance ? Vous avez dit; form of verbs with l'Infinitif - c'est pourqua j'ai le question.  (pardon de mes erreurs grammaticeux)

merci,

Solveigh 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 July 2018

4/07/18

Hi Solveigh,

I think the sentence should be:

Ils détestent jouer au foot. The infinitive of jouer, not the 3rd person plural. So you are correct.

-- Chris.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

4 July 2018

4/07/18

Hi Solveigh,

As Chris says the answer should be, Ils détestent jouer au foot.

But if this relates to a specific quiz, you should use the 'Report it' button in your Correction Board, as it links directly to it and makes it easier for us to answer you...

The Q& A is for more general language questions.

Bonne continuation!

Jonathan

Kwiziq community member

1 July 2018

2 replies

Je déteste les voyages != Je déteste voyager ? I do not understand this.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

2 July 2018

2/07/18

Je déteste les voyages. -- I hate the travels (= I hate traveling).
Je déteste voyager. -- I hate to travel.

I can't really detect any significant difference between them.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

2 July 2018

2/07/18

Hi Jonathan,

It is just two ways of saying the same thing:

Je déteste les voyages = I hate travel

Je déteste voyager = I hate travelling

Hope this helps!

James

Kwiziq community member

15 June 2018

1 reply

J'adore faire du shopping. Surely it is `faire les magasins` or `faire des courses`? Depending on the context.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 June 2018

18/06/18

You can also say faire du shopping.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

nim

Kwiziq community member

7 April 2018

3 replies

differnce between -ant and -er/-ir/-re

Hi,

since using the -ant and the infinitive both mean -ing in english, what's the difference between them and when would you use one and not the other?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

8 April 2018

8/04/18

Hi Nim,

the many uses of the English continuous form (-ing form) can lead to confusion when translating to/from French.

In the lesson you refer to, the continuous form really stands in for the infinitive. A good hint is that the infinitive even works in English, even though it isn't quite as natural as the -ing form:

Dieting is useful. -- To diet is useful. -- Faire un régime ist util.

I guess with the "-ant" form you mean the gerund. It serves a different purpose and cannot replace the inifinitive in the above examples.

En faisant un régime j'ai faim souvent. -- While dieting I am often hungry.
Here the gerund expresses a simultaneity. Note that in English you could also omit "while" and still have the sentence work.

En prenant le train il a réussi à y arriver à l'heure. -- By taking the train he succeeded in arriving there in time. The gerund can also express causality, as in this example. Again, dropping "by" would also work in English.

The upshot is that the English infinitive is indistinguishable from the English gerund which is why a lot of English speaker don't know how to differentiate between them. In French they are distincly different concepts and not to be mixed.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Chris

Kwiziq community member

8 April 2018

8/04/18

...sorry, in my last paragraph I referred to the "English infinitive" but I really meant the English continuous form.

-- Chris.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

16 April 2018

16/04/18

Hi Nim,

Just to add to what Chris has just said, many verbs expressing likes and dislikes, (i.e. to love, to like, to prefer, to hate etc ), will be followed by a verb ending in  'ing' in English. 

In French, however,  as you have two verbs following each other ( two separate actions) the second verb will be in the infinitive. e.g.

I hate peeling potatoes Je déteste éplucher les pommes de terre

I prefer walking to runningJe préfère marcher à courir

I enjoy cycling J'aime faire du vélo

The 'ant' of the gerund (gérondif in French) conveys two concurrent actions, e.g.

Il travaille en sifflant (He wistles while working/he works)

Il marche en boitant (He walks with a limp)

Je l'ai aperçu en arrivant (I noticed him on arrival /when I arrived) 

Hope this helps!

Lynne

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

12 replies

Why isn't "souffrir" conjugated?

"Parce qu'on voit les gens souffrir"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

12/02/18

Can you provide an example?

William

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

12/02/18

Isn't "parce qu'on voit les gens souffrir" the example?

William

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

12/02/18

Isn't "parce qu'on voit les gens souffrir" the example?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

12/02/18

Oh, silly me, I must have missed themsecomd line. Sorry. 

The point of this lesson is to demonstrate the use of the infinitive for some continuous form constructions in English. In the example you cite, "voit" is the verb and "souffrir" is the infinitive (sufferING). 

Parce qu'on voit les gens souffrir. -- Because one sees the people suffering. 

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

William

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

12/02/18

That is what I thought. So instead of "La fille qui joue du piano est mon amie" Could I use "La fille jouer du piano est mon amie"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

13 February 2018

13/02/18

No, that would be incorrect. It isn't that the French infinitive simply corresponds to the English present continuous form. Rather, the French present tense can often times also be translated as present continuous in English.

The girl who plays the piano is my friend. -- La fille qui joue du piano est mon amie.
The girl playing the piano is my friend. -- La fille en jouant du piano est mon amie. (you'd need a gerundive in French)

But to demonstrate it in a simpler sentence:

La fille joue du piano -- The girl plays piano. And also: The girl is playing the piano.

The problem is that in English the gerundive of a verb is identical with the "-ing" form.

The girl playing the piano. -- Here "playing" is the gerundive.
The girl is playing the piano. -- Here "playing" is present continuous tense.

I don't know if that makes it any clearer, though....

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

William

Kwiziq community member

14 February 2018

14/02/18

Yes, it does make it a little clearer. Thanks! Can I ask another question? Is "jouant" ever used by itself without "en"?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

14 February 2018

14/02/18

Without the "en", you have yourself a present participle. It is less frequently used than its counterpart in English but it is being used.

Elle est partie, oubliant ses clefs. -- She left, forgetting her keys.
Elle est partie en oubliant ses clefs. -- (sounds silly) She left by/while forgetting her keys.

Most often, the present participle is used as an adjective: charmant, intéressant, courant, stressant, etc.

In this context, it is useful to note the change in meaning between the following pairs of adjectives:

stressant -- stressé: stressing (stressful) -- stressing
intéressant -- intéressé: interesting -- interested

Greetings, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

William

Kwiziq community member

14 February 2018

14/02/18

Thanks your your help, the two sentences about keys illustrates the differences. Thanks again! Cheers!

Alan

Kwiziq community member

14 February 2018

14/02/18

" La fille en jouant du piano est mon amie" sounds odd to me. Are you sure it's possible to say this?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

15 February 2018

15/02/18

It sounds pretty stilted to my ears but it would be grammatically correct. You'd never hear it said, though, I believe. 

-- Chris. 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

29 August 2018

29/08/18

If I may just add :

You cannot say, "la fille en jouant du piano..." only, "la fille qui joue du piano s'appelle Sylvie".

To answer Lynne's original question , the verb 'souffrir' is in the infinitive because of the rule:

When 2 verbs follow each other the second one is in the infinitive.

e.g.

Je vais la voir jouer du piano demain = I am going to see her play the piano tomorrow

J'ai vu la maison brûler I saw the house burn/on fire

Hope this helps!

Lynne

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

1 reply

Souffrir

Chris

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2018

12/02/18

Hi Lynn, what would be your question? -- Chris. 

Daniel

Kwiziq community member

5 October 2017

2 replies

Pose ce téléphone!

I must admit that I don't understand the meaning of this sentence neither in french nor in english, can you explain it a little bit more? "Pose ce téléphone ! Se faire les yeux doux par écran interposé, si ça marchait, ça se saurait!"

Ron

Kwiziq community member

5 October 2017

5/10/17

Bonjour Daniel, Pose ce téléphone! Se faire les yeux doux par écran interposé, si ça marchait, ça se saurait! ---> Put down that phone! Making doe eyes with a screen in-between, if that worked, we would know! I must admit that I am in agreement with you. Even the English translation seems stilted and awkward. I am wondering if this is a UK expression of a sort. Perhaps someone from the Kwiziq team will be able to give us a good explanation, and then again, perhaps if the full context of the phrase was known then it would make more sense. Bonne chance !

Colleen

Kwiziq community member

9 December 2017

9/12/17

I was just going to ask that very same question!! I read it a few times and it just doesn’t make sense. Can someone advise?

Michael

Kwiziq community member

28 September 2017

2 replies

Is " poser un lapin" a french idiomatic phrase meaning "to stand someone up"?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

28 September 2017

28/09/17

Bonjour Michael, I admit that I had to look this one up. In a word, yes, poser un lapin is a french locution that means «to stand someone up». From the online Collins-Robert Dictionary we have this listing: poser un lapin à qn to stand sb up J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet

Michael

Kwiziq community member

29 September 2017

29/09/17

Merci Ron.

John

Kwiziq community member

10 August 2017

2 replies

In the example: "Basile adore se coucher tard." Why isn't it 'tarde'?

Isn't the object Basile feminine?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 August 2017

10/08/17

Bonjour John ! First, Basile is a masculine name :) But more to the point, "tard" is not an adjective here, but an adverb (late), therefore it never changes nor agrees : Il se couche tard. Elle se couche tard. Ils se couchent tard. Elles se couchent tard. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

John

Kwiziq community member

10 August 2017

10/08/17

Thank you for your quick response!
Let me take a look at that...