Tag Archive | Impossibility

Degrees of Certainty – Impossibility, Doubt

This is the third and last in this 3 part series of French in Action. (Part 1; Part 2) Today we wrap this series up with the negative : Impossibility and Doubt.


The expressions used to denote possibility can be used in the negative to suggest impossibility.

La date nous est impossible.|The date’s impossible for us./We can’t make the date.

Mon fils a toujours tenté l’impossible.|My son’s always tried to do the impossible.

J’aimerais faire le tour du monde, mais c’est un rêve irréalisable.|I’d like to travel around the world, but it’s an impossible dream.

L’accord était voué à l’échec.|The agreement was impossible/bound to fail.

Il est impossible qu‘elle soit exclue de l’équipe.|She can’t possibly be excluded from the team.

Votre démarche a rendu impossible tout compromis.|Your action has made any compromise impossible.

Il est hors de question que vous le fassiez à sa place.|It’s out of the question for you to do it instead of him/her.


French possesses the verb douter, the cognate of the English verb “to doubt”. The constructions in which it is used can confuse English speakers. Note that se douter de quelque chose means “to suspect that something is the case” (as in the opposite of doubt).

On peut douter de l’authenticité de la signature.|There is reason to doubt whether the signature is authentic.

Je doute qu‘il ait eu le temps de tout faire.|I doubt if/that he had time to do everything.

Il est parti ? Je m’en doutais.|Has he left? I thought as much.

Je me doutais de ses intentions.|I suspected those were his intentions.

J’ai hésité à vous réveiller.|I wasn’t sure whether I should wake you up.

Je me suis méfié de ce qu’il a dit.|I wasn’t sure whether to trust what he said.

On peut avoir des doutes sur ses capacités.|There’s reason to doubt his abilities.

Rien n’indique qu‘il ait décidé de revenir.|There’s nothing to suggest he’s decided to come back.

Here are some adverbial and adjectival constructions to express doubt:

Il ne sera pas forcément d’accord.|He won’t necessarily be in agreement.

Je serais difficilement convaincu.|It would be difficult to persuade me.

Ile est fort peu probable que le magasin soit ouvert dimanche.|It’s very unlikely that the shop is open on Sunday.

Il est douteux qu‘elle se représente aux prochaines élections.|It is doubtful whether/unlikely that she will stand again at the next election.

L’issue est incertaine.|The outcome is undecided/unsure.

Le verdict était contestable.|The verdict was debatable/open to question.

C’est une procédure tout à fait aléatoire.|It’s a completely random procedure./The procedure leaves everything to chance.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !