FR: penser (à/de) + infinitif

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by kayyyt, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. kayyyt Member

    Do you always have to use 'a' after penser when you talking about thinking of doing something? I seem to hear french people often say things like:

    On pensait aller a la plage
    On pensait diner chez .....

    Or is the 'a' there but just not pronounced very strongly ?
  2. lingogal Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Nope, you don't really need the à when penser is followed by an infinitive. In this case, penser almost takes on the meaning of "planning to". Hope this helps.
  3. Trendywendy_41 Senior Member

    Supposing one wanted to say in response to "What are you thinking about?" - "à quoi penses-tu?"
    "I was thinking or even dreaming about eating/dancing/sleeping." But not meaning I'm planning to eat/dance/sleep, but I was literally thinking about the action of eating/dancing/sleeping!!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2013
  4. GerardM

    GerardM Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Hi Trendywendy_41,

    You are right!


    There are 2 different meanings:
    > On pensait aller à la plage
    > On pensait dîner chez...
    These sentences are correct and they mean that we intended to...

    In these examples, "On pensait à aller à la plage" & "On pensait à dîner chez..." mean that we were just thinking of doing... at the exact moment (we had this in mind).


    - "il faut que je pense à poster ma lettre" is correct and means I don't want to forget...
    - "il faut que je pense poster ma lettre" is not correct because of "il faut que"
    - "je pense poster ma lettre demain matin" is correct and means I intend to do this (later).

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2013
  5. dll1 Senior Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2013
  6. Michelvar

    Michelvar quasimodo

    Marseille - France
    Well, penser has a different meaning, so, yes, you can use "penser à", but you don't use "aimer à" (except in a very literary way, but let's focus on the basics).

    Il faut que je pense à offrir un cadeau à ma mère. J'aime faire plaisir à ma mère.

    See? Penser à offrir, aimer faire plaisir.
  7. dll1 Senior Member

    okay i got the aimer part.
    so what is the rule for penser à and penser de.
    i know the person in that thread answered this, but i want to know if that is right.
  8. moustic Senior Member

    near Limoges
    British English
    Penser de -> when you want an opinion : Qu'est-ce que tu penses de ma déco ?

    Penser à -> when you want to remember something: Je dois penser à préparer mes affaires.
  9. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    In both the above-mentioned thread and Moustic's example, de is not followed by an infinitive but a noun… ;) You may however say:

    Qu'est-ce que tu penses d'aller en Italie pour les vacances ? (which is short for Qu'est-ce que tu penses du fait d'aller en Italie pour les vacances ?)

    That being said, penser de can also mean avoir l'idée de (see TLFi, s.v. penser, IV, B):
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013

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