Is "avoir à" a possible alternative to "devoir"

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Kwiziq community member

19 August 2018

2 replies

Is "avoir à" a possible alternative to "devoir"

Is avoir à a possible alternative to devoir?

Can avoir à ever be used instead of devoir? For example j'ai à vous remercier instead of je dois vous remercier.

This question relates to:
French lesson "Devoir vs avoir besoin de to express "to need to""


Kwiziq community member

19 August 2018


I have heard "avaoir à" used in some specific context loke:

Tu n'as qu'à ranger ta chambre. -- You only have to clean up your room. 

 But I found a more comprehensive discussion here:à_vs_devoir/


Kwiziq language super star

21 August 2018


Hi William,

As the lesson points out 'devoir' can be both 'to have to' or 'to need to' something .

'Avoir à' is mostly used to indicate an idea of need rather than must as in :

Tu n'as pas à t'excuser = You don't need to apologise (in other words - it was not your fault)

Tu n'as pas à faire ça You don't need to do that ( or even: there's no need for you to do that

J'ai à faire = I have things to do (there are things I need to do

so it may be best to use 'devoir' or 'falloir' to convey the idea of 'must'.

Hope this helps!


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