Bootstrap French Grammar

Learn French Grammar step-by-step

French grammar - The infinitive following adjectives or nouns - using de or à

The infinitive following adjectives or nouns - using de or à

In the majority of cases, an infinitive that follows (modifies) an adjective or noun is proceeded by de.

The de is also used after que in the second part of a comparison:

There are a few expectations where à is used instead:

After le dernier ('the last'), le seul ('the only'), le premier ('the first'), and other numerals.

If the infinitive conveys a passive meaning (eg. 'to be done').

After adjectives showing tendency, appropriateness, and purpose, such as habile ('skillful'), lent ('slow'), 'prêt' ('ready').

Examples:
Il est facile de comprendre.
It is easy to understand.
Je n'ai pas le temps de t'attendre.
I don't have time to wait for you.
Est-il capable de le faire ?
Is he able to do it?
Je suis ravi de vous revoir.
I (male) am glad to see you again.
Je suis ravie de faire votre connaissance.
I (female) am delighted to make your acquaintance.
C'est mieux de prendre le bus.
It's better to take the bus.
Marguerite a peur de s'endormir.
Marguerite is afraid to fall asleep.
Elle a aussi peur de ne pas se réveiller.
She is also afraid of not waking up.
C'est étrange de ne pas demander d'aide.
It's weird not asking for help.
Je préfère lire que de regarder la télévision.
I prefer reading to watching TV.

After que in a comparision use de

Il est plus relaxant de rentrer à pied que de prendre le bus.
It is more relaxing to walk home than to take the bus.

After que in a comparision use de

Elle n'a pas le temps de gravir cette montagne.
She doesn't have time to climb this mountain.

gravir (verb) means 'to climb'

Elle est la seule personne à avoir gravi cette montagne.
She is the only person to have climbed this mountain.

After la seul use à

C'est le dernier train à partir d'ici aujourd'hui.
This is the last train from here today.

After le dernier use à

Il a été le premier garçon à m'embrasser.
He was the first boy to kiss me.

After le premier use à

embrasser à (verb) means 'to kiss (someone)' or 'to embrasse (someone)'

Donnez‐moi un livre à lire.
Give me a book to read.

à lire has a passive meaning - 'to be read' - so use à

J'ai un secret à te dire.
I have a secret to tell you.

à dire has a passive meaning - 'to be told' - so use à

C'est le meilleur plat à commander dans ce bistrot.
This is the best dish to order in this bistro.

à commander has a passive meaning - 'to be ordered' - so use à

La robe est propre et prête à porter.
The dress is clean and ready to wear.

After certain adjectives use à

Il a tendance à se rendre tôt au travail.
He tends to come to work early.

After certain adjectives use à

tendance (f) means 'tendancy'

avoir tendance à (verb) means 'to have a tendence to (do something)'