FR: mon travail est de + infinitif

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by bcd85, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. bcd85 Member

    My Rosetta stone software has provided me with some confusing sentences.

    The sentences are as follows:

    'Mon travail est d'enseigner'

    'Mon travail est de jouer du piano'

    I am confused as to how this sentence makes grammatical sense. I can obviously understand the meaning behind it, but what permits to usage of etre + de + infinitive?

    Does anyone have any links as to how the infinitive is able to be used after etre in that way?
  2. Marie3933

    Marie3933 Senior Member

    Bonjour bcd 85,

    On utilise le marqueur (vide) « de » devant un infinitif en fonction d'attribut du sujet.
    Dans tes exemples, enseigner et jouer du piano sont attributs de « mon travail ».
    Autre exemple : L’essentiel n’est pas de gagner, c’est de participer.
    Ici, gagner est attribut de L’essentiel et participer est attribut de ce.

    Exception : on n'utilise pas « de » devant un infinitif attribut du sujet quand ce sujet est lui-même un infinitif :
    Partir, c’est mourir un peu.
    Vouloir, c'est pouvoir.

    Voici deux pages très bien faites sur l'infinitif attribut et l'infinitif sujet réel (devant lequel on emploie « de » également).
  3. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    I'm just guessing, but perhaps your grammatical confusion comes from trying to draw a parallel with English?

    My job is to teach.
    My job is to play the piano.

    Since "to teach" is the infinitive in English, I can see how you might be expecting [subject] + être + [infinitive] in French. But French and English are not exactly parallel. French needs the preposition de when using a verb (like "to be") to connect a nominal subject (my job) with an infinitive (to teach) as its attribute.

    Two further observations:

    1. English actually has two forms of the infinitive: the to-infinitive (I have to teach), and the bare infinitive (I must teach). But French has only one. Don't let the presence or absence of a "to" from the English infinitive confuse you when you're looking at the structure of the French version of the sentence.

    2. English would let us use a gerund ("My job is teaching/playing/etc.") to describe the action, but French requires an infinitive.

    Does that help? :)

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