Verbs followed by an infinitive- with no preposition

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

Many verbs in French can be followed by a second verb in the infinitive.

There are three ways that verbs can be linked together:

- with no preposition

- with the preposition à

- with the preposition de

Here, we will be looking at verbs linking with no preposition.

1. Modal verbs

When modal verbs are followed by a second verb, the second verb must be in the infinitive.

A modal verb indicates modality (i.e: likelihood, ability, permission, request, capacity, suggestions, order, obligation or advice).

There are six modal verbs you need to know in French.

  • Devoir (to have to, must)

Je dois ranger ma chambre. I have to tidy my bedroom.

Elle doit être contente. She must be happy.

  • Pouvoir (to be able to, can, may)

Je ne peux pas venir. I cannot come.

Nous pouvons voir qu'il est là. We can see that he is here.

  • Savoir (to know how to, can)

Elle sait jouer de la guitare. She knows how to play the guitar.

Est-ce que tu sais conduire? Can you drive?

  • Vouloir (to want)

Nous voulons faire les magasins. We want to go shopping.

Ils ne veulent pas partir. They do not want to leave

  • Falloir (to be necessary) and Valoir mieux (to be better)

Il faut faire quelque chose. It is necessary to do something.

Il vaut mieux rentrer. It is better to get back.

Note that these last two modal verbs are impersonal verbs . They can only be used with the pronoun il.

2. Common verbs

There is a list of common verbs that use an infinitive without a preposition. These are mainly verbs to convey an opinion, but there are a few other verbs too.

adorer (to love)

aimer (to like, to love)

aimer mieux (to prefer)

désirer (to want, to desire)

détester (to hate)

envoyer (to send)

espérer (to hope)

faire (to make)

laisser (to let)

préférer (to prefer)

sembler (to seem)

e.g: Vous aimez aller au restaurant. You like going to the restaurant.

3. Verbs relating to seeing or hearing