French essential phrases: Expressing purpose

French Essentials: Phrases for Expressing Purpose

Communicating effectively involves not only expressing what you are doing or what you want to do but also the purpose behind your actions. To do this in French, you need to understand certain words and structures that allow you to express purpose or intention.

In this lesson, we’ll explore essential French phrases for expressing purpose.

Key Phrases for Expressing Purpose

1. Pour + Infinitive

“Pour” followed by an infinitive verb is the simplest way to express purpose in French. This construction is similar to “in order to” or “to” in English.

  • “Je travaille pour gagner de l’argent.” (I work to earn money.)
  • “Elle étudie pour réussir à l’examen.” (She studies in order to pass the exam.)

2. Dans le but de + Infinitive

“Dans le but de” followed by an infinitive verb is a more formal way to express purpose, equivalent to “with the aim/intention of” in English.

  • “Il fait de l’exercice dans le but de perdre du poids.” (He exercises with the aim of losing weight.)
  • “Nous avons organisé une réunion dans le but de discuter des problèmes.” (We arranged a meeting with the intention of discussing the problems.)

3. Afin de + Infinitive / Afin que + Subjunctive

“Afin de” followed by an infinitive or “afin que” followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood is a slightly more formal way to express purpose, similar to “so that” or “in order to” in English.

  • “Je me lève tôt afin d’arriver à l’heure.” (I wake up early in order to arrive on time.)
  • “Elle apprend le français afin qu’elle puisse vivre en France.” (She is learning French so that she can live in France.)

4. De façon à + Infinitive / De manière à + Infinitive

“De façon à” or “de manière à” followed by an infinitive is another way to express purpose in French. It is equivalent to “in such a way as to” in English.

  • “Il parle lentement de façon à ce que tout le monde puisse comprendre.” (He speaks slowly in such a way that everyone can understand.)
  • “J’ai préparé des notes de manière à ne rien oublier pendant la présentation.” (I prepared notes in such a way as to forget nothing during the presentation.)

Advanced Constructions for Expressing Purpose

There are also several more advanced constructions you can use to express purpose in French:

  • En vue de: This phrase is used in more formal contexts and translates to “with a view to.”
    • “Il a fait des économies en vue de son futur voyage.” (He saved money with a view to his future trip.)
  • De peur que: This phrase is used to express fear that something will happen, and is followed by the subjunctive.
    • “Je prends un parapluie de peur qu’il ne pleuve.” (I’m taking an umbrella for fear that it might rain.)

By mastering these phrases and structures, you’ll be able to clearly express purpose in your French conversations and writing. Remember that practice makes perfect, so try using these in different contexts until they become natural. Bon apprentissage! (Happy learning!)

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