French Grammar: Expressing Necessity and Obligation with IL FAUT

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French Grammar: Expressing Necessity and Obligation with IL FAUT
la grammaire française: la nécessité et l’obligation avec IL FAUT

There are many words and phrases in French that express necessity and obligation.  One of the most common ways to express this is by using the phrase IL FAUT.

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There are many words and phrases in French that express necessity and obligation.  One of the most common ways to express this is by using the phrase IL FAUT.

IL FAUT  is derived from the verb FALLOIR (to be necessary / to have to / to need to / must). IL FAUT has a variety of translations.  It can mean it is necessary / we have to / you have to / one has to /we need to / you need to / one needs to /  we must / you must / one must.

The impersonal expression IL FAUT is quite a bit stronger – and somewhat more formal – than DEVOIR (must / to have to / to be supposed to) and AVOIR BESOIN DE (to need).


FALLOIR
is an impersonal verb, meaning that it is only used in the expression IL FAUT. We never conjugate FALLOIR with any other subject pronoun (je, tu, elle, etc.).

FALLOIR : to be necessary / to have to / to need to / must

il FAUT : it is necessary / we have to / you have to / one has to / we need to / you need to / one needs to /  we must / you must / one must

To express that someone needs to do some action, use IL FAUT followed by an infinitive verb.

Examples:

Il faut parler français en classe.
We need to speak French in class.

Il faut obéir aux toutes les règles.
It is necessary to follow all the rules.

To express that someone needs something, use a noun after IL FAUT.

Examples:

Il faut l’internet pour envoyer un mél.
You need the internet in order to send an email.

Il faut une voiture pour aller à l’école.
It is necessary to have a car in order to go to school.

Adapt:

Il faut faire attention!
You need to pay attention!

Qu’est-ce qu’il faut faire?
What should we do?

Il faut parler au médecin.
We should talk to the doctor.

Il faut faire la lessive?
Is it necessary to do the laundry?

Oui, il faut faire la lessive.
Yes, it is necessary to do the laundry.

Il faut apporter une parapluie aujourd’hui?
Do we need to bring an umbrella today?

Non, il ne faut pas de parapluie aujourd’hui.
No, we do not need an umbrella today.

Il faut des crayons?
Are pencils necessary?

Non, il ne faut pas de crayons.
No, pencils are not necessary.

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