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In French, some verbs are followed by the prepositions "à" (je cherche à comprendre) or "de" (J'évite de comprendre), others by nothing (je veux comprendre). I looked all over the place for an explanation, some sort of rule or logic, but couldn't find anything, and couldn't figure it out myself (if you do know something, please don't hesitate to share it with all of us and post a comment, or contact me).

So, there seems to be no other way than to learn them by heart. And it’s not simple, because the same way prepositions can change the meaning of a verb in English (to look at, for, forward to something, down on someone, up to someone etc…), the same verb can sometimes be followed by “à” or “de” and change meaning. And then there is the possible reflexive form… Furthermore, you cannot translate from English, so these verbs need to be memorized in French. So needless to say that this a bit of a headhache, actually, even listing them is complicated!!

Today, I’ll list common verbs (there are more…) followed by à + infinitive in French, and verbs followed by à + noun. Soon, I’ll list the verbs followed by de, and the verbs followed by nothing.

List of common French verbs that are followed by the preposition à + infinitive

To make it clearer, I’ll use “faire quelque chose” as my second verb, but you could replace it by any other infinitive that makes sense.

aider à faire quelque chose  –  to help to do something

apprendre à faire quelque chose  –  to learn how to do something

arriver à faire quelque chose  –  to manage / succeed in doing something

avoir à faire quelque chose  –  to have to / be obliged to do something

chercher à faire quelque chose –  to attempt to do something

commencer à faire quelque chose  –  to begin to do something

continuer à faire quelque chose  –  to continue to do something

consentir à faire quelque chose – to agree to do something

se décider à faire quelque chose  –  to make up one’s mind to do something

encourager quelqu’un à faire quelque chose  –  to encourage someone to do something

s’habituer à faire quelque chose  –  to get used to doing something

hésiter à faire quelque chose  –  to hesitate to do something

inviter (quelqu’un) à faire quelque chose  –  to invite (someone) to do something

se mettre à faire quelque chose  –  to start doing something

obliger (quelqu’un) à faire quelque chose  –  to force (someone) to do something

parvenir à faire quelque chose  –  to succeed in doing something

passer du temps à faire quelque chose  –  to spend time doing

perdre du temps à faire quelque chose  –  to waste time doing

persister à faire quelque chose  –  to persist in doing

pousser (quelqu’un) à faire quelque chose  –  to push someone to do something

se préparer à faire quelque chose  –  to prepare oneself to do something

recommencer à faire quelque chose  –  to begin doing something again

renoncer à faire quelque chose  –  to give up doing something

résister à faire quelque chose  –  to resist doing

réussir à faire quelque chose  –  to succeed in doing

servir à faire quelque chose  –  to be used to do something

tenir à faire quelque chose  –  to insist on doing something

s’amuser à faire quelque chose – to have fun doing something

s’attendre à faire quelque chose – to expect doing something

s’autoriser à faire quelque chose  –  to allow oneself to do something

s’habituer à faire quelque chose – to get used to doing something

s’intéresser à quelque chose – to show a special interest in something

List of common French verbs that are followed by the preposition à + noun

To make it easier, I’ll use “Pierre” as my noun, Pierre standing for a any person.
Note that these verbs will be followed by a indirect object (à Pierre), so it’s a good idea to drill, do flash cards with these verbs and indirect object (je lui achète, nous leur conseillons etc…)

acheter à Pierre – to buy from Pierre

arracher à – to tear away from Pierre

conseiller à Pierre – to advise Pierre

demander à Pierre – to ask Pierre

défendre à Pierre – to forbid Pierre

désobéir à Pierre – to disobey Pierre

dire à Pierre – to tell Pierre

donner à Pierre – to give (to) Pierre

écrire à Pierre – to write to Pierre

emprunter à Pierre – to borrow from Pierre

envoyer à Pierre – to send (to) Pierre

être à – to belong to Pierre

faire attention à Pierre – to pay attention to Pierre/ be careful with Pierre

goûter à la confiture – to taste the jam

s’habituer à Pierre – to get used to Pierre

interdire à Pierre – to forbid Pierre

s’intéresser à Pierre – to be interested by Pierre

jouer à – to play (a game or sport), example “jouer au tennis”

obéir à Pierre – to obey Pierre

s’opposer à Pierre – to oppose Pierre

ordonner à Pierre – to order Pierre

pardonner à Pierre – to forgive Pierre

parler à Pierre – to talk to Pierre

penser à Pierre – to think about Pierre

permettre à Pierre – to allow Pierre

plaire à Pierre – to please Pierre

profiter à Pierre – to benefit Pierre

promettre à Pierre – to promise Pierre

réfléchir à – to consider / reflect upon, example “réfléchir au problème”

répondre à Pierre – to answer Pierre

résister à Pierre – to resist Pierre

ressembler à Pierre – to look like Pierre

réussir à l’examen – to pass the test

serrer la main à Pierre – to shake hands with Pierre

servir à Pierre – to be useful for Pierre

téléphoner à Pierre – to call Pierre

voler (quelque chose) à Pierre – to steal (something) from Pierre

If you know more COMMON French verbs followed by à preposition + verb in the infinitve or noun, kindly leave a comment below, or contact me, and I’ll add them to the list. Merci!

You may also enjoy learning about French prepositions of place used with countries and regions

And here is the list of French verbs followed by “de” + infinitive

And the one of verbs followed by no preposition at all


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Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 19 years in the US, France, and to people around the world over the phone and by Skype . My method is proven and unique, and, based on my students' goals and needs, I've developed high quality French audiobooks and French audio lessons for all levels. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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