Tag Archive | Versus

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 !



Bon vs. Bien

A new versus! This one even stumps advanced French students. Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion you may have.


With a noun:

  • J’ai mangé dans un bon restaurant. – I ate at a good restaurant.
  • J’ai regardé une bonne émission. – I watched a good episode/programme.

With ‘être’:

  • To say something is delicious:
    • Cette pomme est bonne. – This apple is good.
  • To say something is ready or ok:
    • C’est bon ? On y va ? – Are you ready? Shall we go?
  • To say something is correct or is of good quality:
    • Ta dissertation est bonne. – Your essay is good.


With a verb:

  • Elle chante bien. – She sings well.
  • Je patine bien. – I skate well.

With ‘être’:

  • To say something is cool, nice, or interesting:
    • Ce film est bon. – This movie is good.
    • Cette peinture est bien. – This painting is cool.
    • Ton appartement est bien. – Your apartment is nice.

Hopefully this short but sweet versus post was at least helpful for everyone. Whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you a happy one! Happy solstice as well!

A la prochaine !


Rencontrer vs. Retrouver

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a versus post here! I personally like them, they’re interesting to read and fun to learn, n’est-ce pas? Et vous, vous les préférez?

Today I’ll go over Rencontrer vs. Retrouver. Both mean “to meet”, but they are not interchangeable.

Rencontrer: to meet for the first time; to meet by chance – to run into; to encounter.

These meetings are not planned meetings. Imagine running into someone you know in a professional setting, and seeing them out in public away from that professional environment.

  • J’ai rencontré mon professeur au cinéma.
  • I ran into my professor at the movies.

Another scenario is meeting someone for the first time.

  • J’ai rencontré mon copain à l’école.
  • I met my boyfriend (for the first time) at school.

Retrouver: to meet up with someone; find again – find something that was once lost; find; relocate; to see someone again after a long time.

Unlike rencontrer, retrouver is used when talking about a planned meet up with someone.

  • J’ai retrouvé ma meilleur à la plage.
  • I met up with my best friend at the beach.

This verb also means to find, as in to find an item.

  • Ma mère a retrouvé mon portable.
  • My mother found my cell phone.


If you have any suggestions for another versus post, please leave a comment below!

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous!


Imparfait vs. Passé Composé

Friday bonus post!

Imparfait vs. Passé Composé

The passé composé and imperfect both refer to past time, but express different ways of looking at past actions and events. The imperfect tense denotes an action as going on in the past without any reference to its beginning or end. The passé composé denotes an action that the speaker sees as completed in the past or as having happened once.

Quand j’étais en France, je parlais français.

When I was in France, I spoke French.


Hier j’ai parlé français avec Caroline.

Yesterday I spoke French with Caroline.


Completed Action

The passé composé implies that an action is complete in the past. It also may imply that the action happened once.

Quelqu’un a sonné à la porte d’en bas.

Someone rang the downstairs doorbell.


Tout à coup la porte s’est ouverte.

Suddenly the door opened.


L’avion est arrivé en retard.

The plane arrived late.


Continuous or Repeated Action

The imperfect is used for actions that the speaker sees as going on in the past without reference to the beginning or the end of the action. The imperfect may convey that the action happened repeatedly.

Le quartier devenait de plus en blus bruyant.

The neighbourhood was getting noisier and noisier.


Les enfants faisaient leurs devoirs dans la cuisine.

The children used to do their homework in the kitchen,


Tu te couchais toujours tôt.

You always went to bed early.


Background for Past Actions or Events

The imperfect often provides the background for past actions or events that are expressed in the passé composé.

Philippe lisait quand ses amis sont arrivés.

Philippe was reading when his friends arrived.


Quand je suis entrée, tout le monde travaillait.

When I came in, everyone was working.


J’ai fermé les fenêtres parce qu’il pleuvait.

I closed the windows because it was raining.