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

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.


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!


Q&A

Walter

Kwiziq community member

14 December 2018

0 replies

a further comment about "doe's eyes" ...

I find "yeux doux" translated in several sources as "goo-goo eyes" or "googly eyes" in English, but none as "doe's eyes".

Popular songs in English refer to "making eyes at" or "having eyes for" as a way of showing love.  ("Mom, he's making eyes at me", "I only have eyes for you.")  It's a bit old-fashioned, however, not in everyday use any more.

One can also make "sheep's eyes" in English to express love.

And a beautiful woman can be "doe-eyed".

However, I don't find any reference in English sources to "making doe's eyes", and I've never heard the expression myself.  Perhaps it is a literal translation of a French expression.

An approximate translation of the sentence might be: "Making eyes at your screen all day will get you nowhere.  If it worked we would know it."  It's a challanging sentence to translate into coherent English.

Walter B.

Walter

Kwiziq community member

14 December 2018

0 replies

a comment about "doe's eyes" ...

Walter

Kwiziq community member

1 December 2018

2 replies

"ca craint" (sorry, I don't seem to be able to activate the accent function ...)

I know I am a little old-fashioned about this, but even though "it sucks!" is used more and more frequently these days in colloquial American speech, I think it is still a fairly vulgar expression.  Does "ca craint" have the same level of vulgarity as "ca suce" in French?  I'm just curious.

Walter B.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

3 December 2018

3/12/18

Hi Walter,

I don't think there's any vulgarity attached to, 'ça craint' in French it is just slang .

I have heard it used by young people to mean a fashion faux-pas like a comment adressed to the wrong people wearing leggings ...

The other expression I have never heard personally but I am old-fashioned too!!

Walter

Kwiziq community member

3 December 2018

3/12/18

Many thanks, Cecile.

Best regards from one old-fashioned person to another, ;-)

Walter B.

dernier

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2018

2 replies

“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 ....

Walter

Kwiziq community member

1 December 2018

1/12/18

Hello, Cecile,

YOUR translation is quite clear, but I agree with Dernier that the "doe-eyes at the screen in-between" is a bit obscure.  To me it resembles a Google-translation or perhaps an obscure Imagist poem ... you have to kind of guess at the meaning.

Walter B.

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

3 replies

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).

John

Kwiziq community member

26 October 2018

26/10/18

My French teacher (born and brought up in Paris) said that 'faire des courses' refers specifically to shopping for food while the other expressions are used for the general shopping one often does in city centre stores. Any comments?

James

Kwiziq community member

1 November 2018

1/11/18

Hello John,

That was my point regarding the context. In the tutorial there are only two references to shopping: `Faire du Courses` for groceries and `Faire les Magasins` for doing the malls etc.There is no mention at all of `Faire du Shopping`. The latter seems very anglicized, but if it is colloquial, then I have learnt something.

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. 
Thinking...