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FR: y être obligé / être obligé de + infinitif - préposition

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by ampurdan, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    Vous avez raison. Donc, "vous n'en êtes pas obligé"...

    Mais, si je recherche dans google "vous n'y êtes pas obligé", on me signale plusieurs résultats! :eek:
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  2. Benjy

    Benjy Senior Member

    Milton Keynes, UK
    English - English
    this might be because when you you use the inifinitive its followed by à

    je ne vous oblige pas à lire toutes mes sottises, par exemple :)
  3. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I think it's because of the (y) which must refer to something mentioned previously; hence the various results.
    The verb obliger can be used with the two prepositions : de & à (but i'm not sure when to use which)
  4. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Quite right, Benjy.:thumbsup:

    Consider these sentences :
    1. Nous sommes obligés de traverser dans les clous :tick:
    2. Nous sommes obligés à traverser dans les clous :cross:
    3. On nous oblige à traverser dans les clous :tick:
    4. Nous y sommes obligés. :tick:

    In sentence 1, "obligé" is more an adjective than a past participle (so it has its own preposition which is "de").

    Sentence 2. doesn't sound right because having "à" instead of "de" implies that "obligés" is a past participle. So one wonders who forced us to use the pedestrian crossing (i.e., who performs the action) and why the passive form is used.

    Sentence 3 is the same as 2 but in the active form.

    In the sentence 4, the secondary clause has been replaced by a pronoun : "y". And here, I have to say that this usage isn't very consistent. Why should "obligés" be a verb (since "à" is used) instead of an adjective. (that should take "de") ? It's strange when I think of it. I mean it should sound as weird as sentence #2 but it's accepted. All I can say in this case is "well, that's the way it is" :confused:

    To make a long story short :
    1. We have to.....
    2. We are forced to....
    3. They force us to.....
    4. We have to. (----> "correct" inconsistency?)
  5. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I've just realized an important element was missing in my previous post.

    - In English the use of the passive form is very common. Especially when there's no mention of an "agent" (the one who really perfoms the action and is introduced by the preposition "by...."). If there is an agent, then the active form is often preferable.

    - In French it's the other way round. The passive form is rare and when it is used the agent is mentionned most of the time.

    This explains why my sentence #2 sounds weird in French while its translation ("we are forced to") in English seems more acceptable. Plus I wouldn't have any problem with sentence #4 if it went :
    Nous y sommes obligés par la loi.
  6. Kamelie

    Kamelie Senior Member

    I've come across two confusing examples in a grammar excercise about infinitive constructions, in which sentence components like "de faire quelque chose" seem to be substituted by "y", though I learned that "y" normally substitutes constructions with "à", while anything with "de" is substituted by "en".

    Example 1:
    Tous les Français rembourseront la dette sociale. Ils y sont obligés.
    Tous les Français sont obligés de rembourser la dette sociale.

    I did some research on the forums and found that this may have to do with the fact that "obligé" can alternatively be unterstood as an adjective (demanding "de") or a past participle (demanding "à").
    But then there is also this sentence:

    Example 2:
    Le Parlement vote des lois plus justes. Il s'y efforce.
    Le Parlement s'efforce de voter des lois plus justes.

    Shouldn't it be "Il s'en efforce"?
    Can someone explain?
  7. CapnPrep Senior Member

    First of all, you can say "être obligé à faire qch" and "s'efforcer à faire qch", although these are not the usual constructions. But I don't think this is the right explanation for the use of "y" (and it does not explain why "en" is not used).

    The real reason is that the infinitival complements "à + verb" and "de + verb" are not replaced directly by the pronouns y and en, respectively. You have to first turn them into the correponding nominal or "neuter" pronoun complements, which may or may not require the same preposition. In your two examples, the verbal complements take de, but the nominal/pronominal complements take à.

    verbal compl.: Tous les Français sont obligés de rembourser la dette sociale.
    nominal compl.: Tous les Français sont obligés au remboursement [not: du remboursement] de la dette sociale.
    neuter pron.: Tous les Français sont obligés à cela [not: de cela].
    :arrow: Tous les Français y sont obligés [not: en sont obligés].

    verbal compl.: Le Parlement s'efforce de voter des lois plus justes.
    nominal compl.: Le Parlement s'efforce à l'adoption [not: de l'adoption] de lois plus justes.
    neuter pron.: Le Parlement s'efforce à cela [no one says this but it's still better than: de cela].
    :arrow: Le Parlement s'y efforce [not: s'en efforce].

    A similar question came up recently here:
    on se le permet

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