French Grammar Guide for non-francophones

Infinitives (e.g.: parler, prendre, finir)

An Overview of French Infinitives

The infinitive is the "bare" form of the verb. It provides information about meaning, but not grammar (no information about the subject, the tense or the number). The ending does provide information, however, about the possible forms the verb can take. The three main infinitive verbs are -er verbs (e.g.: parler), -re verbs (e.g.: prendre) and -ir verbs (e.g.: sortir).

In terms of usage, the infinitive is used:

a) after prepositions, e.g.: Je viens de parler aux enfants.

b) after other verbs, like pouvoir, vouloir, devoir and aller, e.g.: Je vais faire mes devoirs.

c) alone, e.g.: Apprendre c'est vivre de nouveau.

When using the infinitive in a negative structure, place both negative elements before the infinitive, not around it, e.g.: On lui a dit de ne pas faire trop de bruit.

Caution
  • The infinitive does not follow forms of the verbs avoir or être;
  • The infinitive does not follow subjects (like jetu, etc.)
Verb conjugation:
 
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