FR: prêt à porter, prêt à manger


New Member
Why is there an 'a' in pret a Porter or Pret a Manger. If Pret means 'ready' and Porter is the infinitive 'to wear' what is the purpose of the 'a'?
  • David.sdg

    New Member
    Thanks Oh dear it seems to be very technical and more complicated that I supposed. I was taught that the 'r' at the end of a French verb 'er, re, it, oir' effectively meant "to". Such as 'je vais manger'. Thus 'je vais porter'. It is because in the latter cases it is the second verb in the sentence not the first? Any further advice very welcome! 🙂


    Senior Member
    French - France
    Le "à" correspond très exactement au "to" anglais dans ces expressions. En revanche, "prêt-à-porter" est une construction calquée de l'anglais "ready-to-wear", qui a été critiquée car certains auraient préféré la construction "prêt-à-être-porté". Néanmoins ce genre de constructions s'est maintenant répandu en français.


    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    Would it help if you think of prêt-à-porter as "ready-for-wearing"?

    If that doesn't work, you might remember that "for to" was a common construction in past centuries.

    - He thought for to devise / How he might have her companye
    - But none was so ready as his cousin herself / For to let bold Robin in.
    - Sir Harry Percy came to the walls, / The Scottish host for to see
    A Book of Old English Ballads, by George Wharton Edwards

    he did go down to the meadow for to mow
    Definition of FOR TO


    New Member
    English - Canada
    Ready to wear is not ready + infinitive but rather ready + to + infinitive.

    These endings have no meaning by themselves, they simply mark the infinitive.

    Without 'to', it is called 'the base form' of the verb.
    The infinitive = 'to' + the base form

    Perhaps the real question is why does English add "to" to its infinitives.

    Infinitives with and without to - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionary

    Thus the 'to' is what makes it the infinitive. It would be like taking the verb 'manger' and asking "Why do the French add -er (or -ir, or -re) to their infinitives?"

    Because otherwise it's no longer an infinitive, that's part of the structure of the language.