Devoir vs. Falloir

It’s a brand new round of versus! This week we’ll be discussing the differences between verbs devoir and falloir. Both verbs share “obligation” in their meaning, but they are each different in their own right.

Devoir expresses obligation when followed by an infinitive:

  • Je dois travailler si je veux avoir de bonnes notes.
  • I have to work hard if I want good grades.
  • Je dois chercher ma fille à l’école.
  • I have to collect my daughter from school.
  • Nous devons gagner plus cette année.
  • We should earn more this year.

Falloir means “to need”, “to be necessary”. Since falloir is an impersonal verb, it only has one conjugation for each tense and mood – third person singular, and may be followed by an infinitive, the subjunctive, or a noun. It is more formal than devoir.

  • Il faut que tu arrives avant 18h00.
  • You have to arrive before 6:00PM.
  • Il faut se dire au revoir; le train va partir.
  • We have to say goodbye; the train is about to leave.

Preceding a noun, falloir means “to need”.

  • Qu’est-ce qu’il te faut ?
  • What do you need?
  • Il me faut un stylo.
  • I need a pen.

If you’d like a little practice, here is a short exercise on Devoir. I will try to find more related exercises for each weekly post from now on. 🙂

Have a great week!

A bientôt !

Courtney

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