FR: penser (à/de) + infinitif

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

  1. kayyyt Junior 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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