FR: continuer à / de + infinitif

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Lora, Feb 19, 2005.

  1. Lora Senior Member

    UK, English
    I've been wondering about this for a while now, and have asked my teachers about - but figure I might get a better answer from native French speakers...

    I've been told that continuer can take the preposition à and the preposition de and that this is interchangeable. Is this correct? And if so is there any kind of rule or reasoning that you would use that would make you opt for one over the other?

    1) Ce chiffre va continuer à augmenter.
    2) Ce chiffre va continuer d'augmenter.

    In these sentences, is one preposition more appropriate or more French sounding that another?
    Is there any slight difference in meaning?

    Merci de votre aide!!

    Moderator note: Multiple threads merged to create this one. See also this thread on the Français Seulement forum.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2012
  2. Nico5992 Senior Member

    Paris, France
    France (French)
    To my ears, your two examples are equivalent and both absolutely correct.
    In some cases, I have the feeling that "de" is a bit higher language than "à", but it's subtle and probably just a personal feeling.
    What I'm sure of is that there isn't any difference in meaning.
  3. Lora Senior Member

    UK, English
    Thanks! I didn't think there was - but what you said about 'de' being perhaps slightly higher language than 'à' is what very useful information.

    What I want to know is if context, or I don't know - one sounding better than another - affects a French person's choice for using one as opposed to the other.

    Alors, je vais continuer d'écrire ma dissertation. ;)
    Merci mille fois!!
  4. Nico5992 Senior Member

    Paris, France
    France (French)
    I may add that when writing I usually prefer "de" whilst "à" sounds better in spoken language. But once again it's a matter of personal taste. None of "à" or "de" is colloquial nor formal, and they're totally interchangeable.
  5. OlivierG

    OlivierG Senior Member

    Toulouse, France
    France / Français
    Personally, I'd use "à".
    "Continuer à faire quelque chose" sounds better to my ears than "continuer de faire quelque chose" e.g "Je continue à progresser" instead of "Je continue de progresser". But don't ask me why.

    Nico is right, both are correct and can be used:
    <<200-212 : Extrait des procès-verbaux de l'Académie grammaticale - Synonymie
    <...>continuer à/continuer de
  6. Sev

    Sev Senior Member

    Béziers, France
    France, french.
    Yes, I agree. And don't ask me why :( .
  7. Apus Senior Member

    Confederatio Helvetica French
    To keep you confused, I would use de in the following sentence:

    Si tu continues de m'ennuyer avec tes questions...
    (but please continue !:) )

    Sounds better in this case. Other francophones agree ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2008
  8. OlivierG

    OlivierG Senior Member

    Toulouse, France
    France / Français
    I think it's a matter of personal preference. I'd use "à" here too.
    "Si tu continues à m'ennuyer..."
  9. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    I feel the opposite. But don't ask me why either.:)
  10. Gil Senior Member

    Français, Canada
    D'après Joseph Hanse, les deux tours sont corrects et équivalents devant un infinitif.

    Parfois, l'oreille choisit: on préfère "il continua de" pour éviter "il continua à"
  11. claude123 Senior Member

    France, French
    Voici ce qu'en disent les puristes:
    (Dictionnaire orthographique et grammatical)
    Par André Sève, Jean Perrot, Agrégé de grammaire, Professeur de Faculté, X. Germain Boyer, Nice

    "À l'intention de tous ceux dont le métier est d'écrire"...
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2012
  12. La Trobentica

    La Trobentica Senior Member


    What is better:

    Les enfant continuent d'interroger.
    Les enfant continuent a interroger.

  13. nicey New Member

    France - French, English, German, Spanish, Welsh
    as far as my Le Robert Micro Poche says, it is the same. From my native speaker feeling, I'd use continuer à.
    Hope it helps!
  14. plemianikov New Member

    it depends on the end of the sentence !!!
  15. La Trobentica

    La Trobentica Senior Member

    this is the whole sentence.
  16. nicey New Member

    France - French, English, German, Spanish, Welsh
    then I'd say that ils continuent d'interroger is better, but I don't think their is a huge difference
  17. plemianikov New Member

    I agree with NICEY
  18. chloe9999 Junior Member

    English, Canada
    i want to say "i want to continuer improving myself"

    je veux continuer à m'améliorer


    je veux continuer de m'améliorer
  19. Football Taxis

    Football Taxis Senior Member

    Oxford, OH
    Midwestern American English
    it's "continuer à"
  20. alaindelon

    alaindelon Junior Member

    I believe continuer can take both à or de when followed by an infinitive.
  21. thorpig Senior Member

    Iqaluit, Nunavut
    Canadian English
    Alaindelon is correct. Any good dictionary will list the appropriate preposition for the verb.
  22. kiwi-di

    kiwi-di Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    New Zealand, English
  23. breizh Senior Member

    French France
    If there is any rule, don't bother with that. You can interchange them as you like, it won't change the meaning at all.
    Now, on one of the threads on "continuer à/de", it was explained that it was a matter of "action ponctuelle" and "action habituelle" like :
    "Malgré les recommandations du médecin, tu continues à fumer" (habit : it's everyday)
    "Pourquoi tu continues de fumer ? C'est déjà ta deuxième cigarette !" (occasional : it's about today, now...)

    I learned something new today, thanks to you !
  24. ck_butterfly3 Senior Member

    Vancouver, BC
    English and Korean
    "As he continued to speak..." = "Comme il continuait de parler OU à parler..."? - I'm not sure if there is a rule about which one to use and when? Merci d'avance!
  25. Franglais1969

    Franglais1969 Senior Member

    English English, français rouillé

    I have always used à, although I have a feeling this may be one verb you can sometimes use de too.

    Better see what the native speakers say, although I am pretty sure à is always correct.:)
  26. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Wollongong, Australia
    English - Australia
  27. Roganglais Junior Member

    England, GB English

    I am confused about the grammar of prepositions after continuer. says “continuer (doing, to do à or de faire)” but what is the rule for using continuer à faire qch versus continuer de faire qch? Or can you use either? My dictionary doesn’t help either as it is similarly vague.

    Can someone help please?
  28. maeva999 New Member

    Il n'y a pas vraiment de règle cela dépend du sens de ta phrase....
  29. Roganglais Junior Member

    England, GB English
    Merci maeva999, mais cela ne m'aide pas beaucoup. Pourriez vous donner moi plus de détails sur "il dépend du sens de ta phrase". Quelle sens demande quelle préposition?

    J'espère que vous pouvez m'aider.
  30. maeva999 New Member

    Tu peux utiliser "de" ou "à" après continuer cela aura le même sens...
    Mais après avec la prononciation on peut en préférer un mais les 2 ont le même sens .
  31. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Je suis d'accord que ça veut dire la même chose, et les dictionnaires semblent ne pas faire de différence.

    Personnellement j'utilise plus volontiers de que à, mais je crois qu'ils sont interchangeables. Et en effet il se peut que la prononciation (des mots qui sont autour) influence mon choix.
  32. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Roganglais, this thread may interest you.

    Par ex. (?) :
    "continuera à avancer" - 2330 résultats
    "continuera d'avancer" - 4040 résultats
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008
  33. n-ray Junior Member

    near Budapest
    Sur Google, j'ai cherché
    "continue à/de"
    "continues à/de"
    "continuons à/de"
    "continuez à/de"
    et ça m'a donné à chaque fois des fréquences bien plus fortes pour à, sauf dans "continue à", mais cette dernière expression est bien souvent une suite participe passé + prép.
    Serait-ce une question de fréquence ? L'interprétation "habituelle" peut-elle être tellement plus fréquente que l'"occasionnelle" ??
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2012
  34. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Before you begin to draw too many conclusions from google search numbers, perhaps you might like to read this lengthy discussion. :p

    I would suggest that you go by what native speakers have suggested in this thread -- and that you might consider asking about a specific example sentence or two if you are looking for a pattern that hasn't been well-established here (keeping in mind that such a pattern may not exist). :)
  35. claude123 Senior Member

    France, French
    Les Français ne font plus la distinction. C'est encore une précision de la langue qui s'estompe. L'usage a fini par effacer le distinguo entre continuer à et continuer de, donc ce débat est devenu stérile.
  36. quinoa Senior Member

    Tout à fait d'accord pour ne pas voir de différence entre continuer de ou continuer à.
    Mais la nuance apportée par claude123 semblerait confortée par l'idée que la préposition "de" comporte un sens d'origine, de point de départ d'un endroit connu (d'où l'idée de continuité d'une action). Et la préposition "à" comporte une idée de destination, d'après, de mouvement vers du nouveau (d'où l'idée qu'une action même interrompue va reprendre pour une nouvel épisode, ou de nouveaux épisodes).
  37. Mérovée

    Mérovée Junior Member

    Tacoma, WA
    American English
    This is an old chestnut.

    Some older grammarians tried to enforce a distinction having to do with continuousness (i.e. uninterruptedness) of action but in modern usage there is no distinction.

    The "official" view of Grevisse (11th ed., 1980) is : "Un certain nombre de verbes construisent l'infinitif complément avec à ou de indifféremment : c'est l'oreille qui décide. Tels sont : commencer, continuer, contraindre, s'efforcer, s'ennuyer, faire attention, forcer, obliger, solliciter, etc." (Le bon usage, p. 881, with many examples).
  38. Syl No (french teacher) New Member

    "continuer de" is definitely the best choice considering that:

    1) "de" introduce the origin of the action
    2) "de" introduce a verb at the infinitive

    ... actually, "continuer à" is grammatically incorrect but commonly accepted nowadays.
  39. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Have you read all of the preceding posts in this thread? You are free to use continuer de if you prefer, but continuer à is also completely correct, and more common, as already mentioned by Grop in #31 above: "Ds la docum., continuer à est un peu plus fréq. que continuer de (environ 60 % contre 40 %)" (TLF, continuer).

    The Académie française also accepts both à and de, with a difference in register (as already noted above by others in this thread): "Continuer à ou, litt., continuer de, suivi de l'infinitif, persister à, ne pas cesser de."

    According to your reasoning, persister à must also be grammatically incorrect, and persister de is definitely the best choice, right? ;)
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013

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