Prepositions Before Infinitives

In French, when a verb follows a preposition, the verb is normally in its infinitive form. The following sections show verbs requiring à, de, other prepositions, and à + quelqu'un + de, respectively. The final two sections discuss nouns and adjectives that are followed by de before an infinitive and verbs that require no preposition before the infinitive.

Verbs requiring à 

The following verbs are followed by the preposition à:

  • aider (help)

  • s'amuser (have fun)

  • apprendre (learn to)

  • commencer (begin)

  • consister (consist)

  • continuer (continue)

  • se décider (decide)

  • encourager (encourage)

  • enseigner (teach to)

  • s'habituer (get used to)

  • se mettre (begin)

  • persister (persist)

  • renoncer (renounce)

  • réussir (succeed)

  • servir (serve)

  • songer (think about)

These verbs are used as follows:

  • Il commence à comprendre. (He is beginning to understand.)

  • Je réussis à le faire. (I succeed in doing it.)

Verbs requiring de

The following verbs are followed by the preposition de:

  • s'arrêter (stop)

  • décider (decide)

  • se dépêcher (hurry)

  • empêcher (prevent)

  • essayer (try to)

  • mériter (deserve)

  • s'occuper (take care of)

  • oublier (forget to)

  • parler (speak about)

  • persuader (persuade)

  • promettre (promise)

  • refuser (refuse)

  • regretter (regret)

  • rêver (dream)

  • se souvenir (remember)

  • venir (have just)

The preceding verbs are used as follows:

  • Je m'occuperai de cela. (I'll take care of that.)

  • Ils viennent d'arriver. (They [have] just arrived.)

Verbs requiring other prepositions

The following prepositions are commonly used before the infinitive of a verb:

  • afin de (in order to)

  • au lieu de (instead of)

  • avant de (before)

  • pour (for, in order to)

  • sans (without)

Note how these prepositions are used in sentences:

  • Il fait de son mieux afin de réussir. (He does his best in order to succeed.)

  • Il dort au lieu de travailler. (He sleeps instead of working.)

Verbs requiring à quelqu'un de

The following verbs require à quelqu'un de before an infinitive:

  • commander (order)

  • conseiller (advise)

  • défendre (forbid)

  • demander (ask)

  • dire (tell)

  • interdire (forbid)

  • ordonner (order)

  • permettre (permit)

  • promettre (promise)

Note how the preceding verbs are used:

  • M. Aube défend à son enfant de sortir. (Mr. Aube forbids his child to leave.)

  • Je lui ai demandé de me téléphoner. (I asked him to call me.)

Nouns and adjectives followed by de before an infinitive

Many nouns and adjectives are followed by de before an infinitive:

  • C'est une bonne idée de vous préparer. (It's a good idea to prepare yourself.)

  • Je suis heureuse de le faire. (I'm happy to do it.)

Verbs requiring no preposition

The following verbs do not require a preposition before an infinitive that follows:

  • aimer (like)

  • aimer mieux (prefer)

  • aller (go)

  • compter (intend)

  • désirer (desire, want)

  • détester (hate)

  • devoir (have to)

  • espérer (hope)

  • falloir (be necessary)

  • pouvoir (be able)

  • préférer (prefer)

  • savoir (know how)

  • venir (come)

  • vouloir (want)

The preceding verbs are used as follows. Note that an adverb may separate the conjugated verb from the infinitive that follows it.

  • Il sait bien cuisiner. (He know hows to cook well.)

  • Je compte revenir. (I intend to return.)