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French grammar - It is necessary - the impersonal verb falloir

It is necessary - the impersonal verb falloir

The verb falloir means 'to need', 'to be necessary' or 'to be lacking'.

It is stronger and more formal than devoir and can have the advantage of being indirect.

-- It's indirectness is virtue being an impersonal verb meaning - that is its subject is only ever the third person singular pronoun 'il'.

In the present tense we have il faut - 'it is necessary...'

-- One would NEVER say je faux or nous fallons etc.

It can be used either with a second (infinitive) verb or with a noun.

Beware though - if it is followed by que and a complete clause then the second verb will need to be in the subjective mood. This will be covered in a later topic.

The pattern il faut can also take the indirect object pronoun such as 'il me faut..' meaning 'it is necessary for me'.

In the negative (il ne faut pas ) it is a negative command ('one must not') rather than expressing that something is optionally not a requirement ('one doesn't have to').

Examples:
Il faut faire attention !
(You) have to be careful!

faire attention (verb) means 'to be careful'

Il faut vendre la voiture.
(We) have to sell the car.
Il faut commencer.
(We) must start.
Il te faut faire attention !
You (familiar) have to be careful!
Il nous faut vendre la voiture.
We need to sell the car.
Il faut un visa pour voyager dans certains pays.
(You) need a visa to travel to some countries
Il me faut de l'aide.
I need help.
Il faut enlever les chaussures.
(You) have to take (your) shoes off.
Qu'est-ce qu'il te faut ?
What do you (familiar) need?
Il me faut un stylo noir.
I need a black pen.
Il faut faire tes devoirs maintenant.
You have to do your (familiar) homework now.

Speaking to someone specifically so 'tes devoirs'

Il faut faire ses devoirs avant l'école.
One must do one's homework before school.

Speaking genereally so 'ses devoirs'

Il faut bien maîtriser la grammaire française.
On must master well French grammar.

maîtriser (verb) means 'to master' or 'to control'

Il ne faut pas marcher sur la pelouse.
Do not walk on the lawn.
Il ne faut pas laisser la porte ouverte.
Do not leave the door open.

laisser (verb) means 'to leave' or 'to let' or 'to allow'

Il ne faut pas réveiller un chat qui dort.
One must not wake a sleeping cat.

Or 'Let sleeping dogs lie'

Il ne faut pas oublier ce fait.
This fact should not be forgotten.

fait (m) means 'fact'

Il ne faut pas faire ça !
You must not do that!

Or 'You shouldn't do that!'