Impersonal Verbs

Verbes impersonnels

Most verbs are personal: they must be conjugated for different grammatical persons, such as aller (to go), je vais (I go), tu vas (you go), etc. But some verbs are used impersonally, meaning they have only one conjugation, the third person singular. This is usually the impersonal subject pronoun il, meaning "it," but may also be an interrogative pronoun or indefinite demonstrative pronoun.

 Most impersonal verbs also have personal meanings, which may or may not be related.

Weather verbs

        Personal meaning
faire
Il fait beau.
  to be
It’s nice out.
  faire – to do, make
geler
Il gèle.
  to freeze
It’s freezing.
  geler – to freeze
neiger
Il neige.
  to snow
It’s snowing.
 
pleuvoir
Il pleut.
  to rain
It’s raining.
 

 Click any verb for the conjugation tables.

Other impersonal verbs

        Personal meaning
s’agir de
Il s’agit de grammaire.
  to be a question of, have to do with
It’s a question of grammar.
  agir – to act, behave
arriver
Qu’est-ce qui est arrivé ?
  to happen, to be possible
What happened?
  arriver – to arrive
il y a
Il y a deux choses à faire.
  there is, there are
There are two things to do.
  avoir – to have
convenir
Il convient de le faire.
  to be advisable, to be agreed
It’s advisable to do it.
  convenir – to suit
se faire
Il peut se faire que …
  to be, to happen
It may be that …
  faire – to do, make
falloir
Il faut que tu comprennes.
  to be necessary
You have to understand.
   
importer
Il importe que tu le fasses.
  to matter, to be important
It’s important that you do it.
  importer – to import
paraître
Il paraît que tu aies raison.
  to appear, seem
It appears that you are right.
  paraître – to appear
se passer
Qu’est-ce qui se passe ?
  to happen
What’s happening?
  passer – to pass, to spend time
se pouvoir
Il se peut que tu aies raison.
  to be possible
You might be right.
  pouvoir – can, to be able to
sembler
Il semble que tu aies raison.
  to seem
It seems that you are right.
  sembler – to seem
suffire
Ça suffit !
  to suffice, to be enough
That’s enough!
  suffire – to suffice
tenir à
Ça ne tient pas qu’à toi.
  to depend on, to be up to
It doesn’t depend on you alone.
  tenir – to hold, keep
se trouver
Il se trouve que tu as raison.
  to be, to happen to be
You happen to be right.
  trouver – to find
valoir mieux
Il vaut mieux que tu partes.
  to be better
It’s better that you leave.
  valoir – to be worth
venir
Il vient un moment quand…
  to come
There comes a time when…
  venir – to come

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French impersonal verbs


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