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FR: facile à / de + infinitif

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by adara, May 1, 2006.

  1. adara New Member

    English (England)
    Bonjour!

    Pourqoui est-ce qu'on dit:
    "Il est facile à comprendre"
    mais
    "Il est facile de se perdre"
    (par exemple)?

    Basically when should you use à and when should you use de when linking an adjective to a noun?

    Merci d'avance

    Moderator note: Multiple threads have been merged to create this one. See also FR: difficile à / de + infinitif.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  2. zaby

    zaby Senior Member

    Hello,

    "de" is used in an impersonal form :
    il est facile de + infinitif
    Il est facile de se perdre = Se perdre est facile
    Il est facile de comprendre l'anglais = Comprendre l'anglais est facile
    ("il" doesn't represent anything)

    "à" is used when it introduces a complement to facile
    qqchose/qqun est facile à + infinitif
    L'anglais est facile à comprendre -> c'est facile à comprendre.
    John est facile à comprendre -> Il est facile à comprendre.



     
  3. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    Chinese,China
    On est demandé de choisir le mot ou l'expression convenable.

    Je crois que c'est facile _______ accepter.
    A son âge, c'est facile ______ apprendre une langue étrangère.
    A. de B. à

    J'ai choisi "à" pour les deux, mais les corrigés sont "à" et "de".
    Je ne peut pas le comprendre. :confused:
     
  4. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    Hi. It is all about where the actual subject is:
    "Ce livre est facile à lire" the subject of the sentence is "ce livre", and this book is easily read. In that case, you use à.

    "C'est facile de lire un livre" the subject of the sentence is just "ce" (it), but is does not mean anything, and the sentence says that "reading a book" is easy. (it is as if you had another subject, namely the whole "lire un livre". in that case, you use "de" to introduce your true subject.

    Now your sentences :
    "c'est facile à accepter" : subject is "c apostrophe", possibly referring to a situation. the situation is easily accepted. first case, use à

    "c'est facile d'apprendre une langue étrangère", the subject "c apostrophe" does not mean anything, your other subject is "apprendre une langue étrangère", your sentence means "learning a foreign language is easy". here you have the second case, so you use "de" to introduce you true subject.

    I hope i explained it clearly to you.
     
  5. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    The following three examples should clarify the issue.

    Il est (or, informally c'est) facile de lire ce roman. [The infinitive phrase is the real subject, and it follows "it is easy."]

    J'aime les romans de Jules Verne. - C'est facile à comprendre. [What is easy to understand is a preceding idea, picked up by "Ce."]

    J'aimerais lire ce roman. - Allez-y. Il est facile à lire. [What is easy to read is a specific noun that has already been mentioned, picked up by "Il.".]

    Another similar example is:

    Ce roman est facile à lire. [ Again the key is: what is easy to read is something preceding, in this case "Ce roman."]
     
  6. johnL Senior Member

    NC USA
    USA, English
    Hello, everyone.
    I think I have a grasp on the two ways of saying, "easy to." I'd appreciate it if someone would tell me if these two sentences are correct:

    Ce prenom est facile à prononcer. Oui, c'est facile de prononcer ce prenom.

    Merci beaucoup.

    John
     
  7. Dsimson

    Dsimson Senior Member

    Perfect, both are correct ! Just, it's prénom.
     
  8. budnorbrier New Member

    English - Australia
    Bonjour,

    ""de" is used in an impersonal form :
    il est facile de + infinitif
    Il est facile de se perdre = Se perdre est facile
    Il est facile de comprendre l'anglais = Comprendre l'anglais est facile
    ("il" doesn't represent anything)

    "à" is used when it introduces a complement to facile
    qqchose/qqun est facile à + infinitif
    L'anglais est facile à comprendre -> c'est facile à comprendre.
    John est facile à comprendre -> Il est facile à comprendre."

    Does this rule apply for other adjectives/ expressions than "facile"?
    Merci beaucoup!:eek:
     
  9. Chimel Senior Member

    Belgium
    Français
    Hello Budnorbier and welcome here ! :)

    The rule surely applies to synonyms or antonyms of facile: C'est simple (aisé, difficile, compliqué...) à comprendre.

    But I cannot think of other adjectives where it also could apply (perhaps other members of the forum will do) : "Il est possible, permis, interdit, préférable, souhaitable, stupide... de faire" but not "C'est une chose possible etc. à faire".
     
  10. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Since there is a specific antecedent, you should say Il est facile à comprendre.
     
  11. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    beau à voir, bon à marier, prêt à porter, long à expliquer, désagréable à entendre, …
    The TLF has e.g. Une telle interprétation ne nous paraît pas possible à adopter; Il ne savait pas, le malheur est impossible à prévoir. It is true that not all adjectives allow this construction, and not always to the same extent. The reasons behind this are not very clear (to me), so I would not be surprised to see variation (between speakers, over time, etc.).
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  12. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Whenever the infinitive is followed by an object, only de is possible. We use à when the object is omitted because it is the same as the subject:

    Il est facile de comprendre l'anglais.
    L'anglais est facile à comprendre.
    L'anglais, c'est facile à comprendre.

    See also FR: difficile de / difficile à.
    Really?! As far as I'm concerned, I don't have any problems with that sentence…
    No, not necessarily… Both C'est and Il est are indeed fine in the given context.
     
  13. Chimel Senior Member

    Belgium
    Français
    In the meantime, I had thought of beau à and agréable à as being other examples of this construction - but I see CapnPrep has found some more... ;)

    As far as possible à faire is concerned: for some reason, I would certainly say impossible à (prévoir), but I would object to possible à. Perhaps I'm just wrong, perhaps it's an example of those individual (and highly subjective) variations CapnPrep mentions.
     
  14. budnorbrier New Member

    English - Australia
    Thank you very much everyone for your quick and helpful replies! :eek: I am so glad I found this forum on the internet! Thank you Chimel for the kind welcome!
     
  15. maicart

    maicart Senior Member

    Castellón, Spain
    Spanish, Spain
    What about the impersonal sentence "It's easier said than done"? Would both these sentences be correct?

    a) C'est plus facile de dire que de faire.
    b) C'est plus facile à dire qu'à faire.

    What about a sentence with two present participles like "Studying is easier than working" Would this sentence be correct?

    c) Il est / c'est plus facile d'étudier que de travailler.

    Thanks.
     
  16. Nacodaco New Member

    français - France
    1/ b) C'est plus facile à dire qu'à faire.

    2/ "Il est" ("c'est" à l'oral uniquement).
     
  17. maicart

    maicart Senior Member

    Castellón, Spain
    Spanish, Spain
    Thanks Nacodaco. I guess the rule "de+infinitif is used in an impersonal form" (see zaby's thread above) does not apply in the expression "C'est plus facile à dire qu'à faire".
     
  18. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    Hi,

    When it refers to something specific, you usually need à. The sentence It's easier said than done isn't that impersonal at all. The word it does stand for something specific : "what you said (whatever it was) is easier said than done".

    — Why don't you try to fit in?
    It's easier said than done.

    On the other hand, the second sentence should read Il est or C'est plus facile d'étudier que de travailler, because il or ce are actually impersonal. Thus, you need de.

    1. L'anglais est facile à apprendre (specific → l'anglais).
    2. C'est difficile d'apprendre l'anglais (impersonal → c'est)
    3. C'est facile de travailler (impersonal → c'est).

    This subtlety does exist in English too, but it doesn't require a word-order change. When you say It's hard to do, the word it definitely stands for something specific, that has been mentioned earlier : an exercise, a task, etc... On the other hand, in It's hard to kill someone, the word it is impersonal. You could rephrase the sentence as Killing someone is hard to do (just like sentence 2. is a rephrased version of sentence 1.) The syntax/structure is the same for both sentences, but the subtlety exists anyway.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  19. maicart

    maicart Senior Member

    Castellón, Spain
    Spanish, Spain
    @Oddmania. Thanks so much. I finally got it!

    Would adding the direct object make a difference? In other words, if I said "C'est plus facile de le dire que de le faire", would that make "C'est" impersonal? In other words. Is this correct?

    a) C'est plus facile à dire qu'à faire. :tick:
    b) C'est plus facile à le dire qu'à le faire. :tick:
    c) C'est plus facile de dire que de faire. :cross:
    d) C'est plus facile de le dire que de le faire.:tick:

    On a similar thread somebody asked how you could say "That's easy to say". Would this be correct?

    e) C'est facile à dire.:tick:
    f) C'est facile à le dire.:tick:
    g) C'est facile de dire.:cross:
    h) C'est facile de le dire.:tick:

    Thanks again.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  20. zaby

    zaby Senior Member

    Hello Maicart,

    As Maître Capello said in post #12 :

    So b and f are not correct :

    a) C'est plus facile à dire qu'à faire. :tick:
    b) C'est plus facile à le dire qu'à le faire.:cross:
    c) C'est plus facile de dire que de faire. :cross:
    d) C'est plus facile de le dire que de le faire.:tick:

    e) C'est facile à dire.:tick:
    f) C'est facile à le dire.:cross:
    g) C'est facile de dire.:cross:
    h) C'est facile de le dire.:tick:
     

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