Thank you for using the Jiskha Homework Help Forum. Yes, there are patterns, but it takes a while to "see" them.
The infinitive is used principally after another verb or after a preposition. Some verbs are followed directly by the infinitive, without a preposition:
aimer mieux/préférer = to prefer
aller = to go
compter = to intend
croire = to believe
désirer/vouloir = to wish, to want
devoir = to have to, be
entendre = to hear
espérer = to hope
faire = to make, have,
falloir = to be necessary
laisser = to let, allow
oser = to dare
pouvoir = to be able
savoir = to know how
valoir mieux = to be better
venir = to come
voir = to see
Some verbs rquire à before the following infinitive:
aider à = to help
aimer (à) = to like
s'amuser à = to enjoy, amuse
apprendre à = to learn
avoir à = to have to
/se mettre à = to begin
continuer à = to continue
enseigner à = to teach
hésiter à = to hesitate
inviter à = to invite
réussir à = to succeed in
tenir à = to be anxious,
venir à = to happen to
(NOTE: you can classify some of the verbs = verbs of beginning, teaching, learning)
(The à is often omitted with aimer.
Nous aimons (à) patiner. = We like to skate.
Some verbs require de before the following infinitive:
cesser de = to stop
craindre de = to fear, be
décider de = to decide
empêcher de = to prevent
essayer de/tâcher de = to try
finir de = to finish
oublier de = to forget
prier de = to beg
refuser de = to refuse
regretter de = to regret
remercier de = to thank for
se souvenir de = to remember
venir de = to have just
conseiller (à quelqu'un) de
= to advise (some-
défendre (à quelqu'un) de
= to forbid (some-
demander (à quelqu'un) de
= to ask (someone)
dire (à quelqu'un) de= to tell (some-
ordonner (à quelqu'un) de
= to order (some-
permettre (à quelqu'un) de
= to permit (some-
promettre (à quelqu'un) de
= to promise (some-
Do the best you can with classifying and memorizing the lists. You will probably want to print them out so you can refer to them. BTW this is only about half of "Prepositions with Infinitives" but I'll post the rest after I take care of my rescue animals.
Most adjectives and nouns are followed by "de" before the infinitive.
Je suis contente d'apprendre la bonne nouvelle. = I am pleased to learn the good news.
NOTE: The adjective prêt/e (ready) is followed by à.
Other prepositions followed by the infinitive are: pour (to, in order to, for the purpose of), afin de (in order to), avant de (before), sans (without), au lieu de (instead of).
The preposition par (by) is used only after commencer and finir. In other cases, "by + a verb" is translated by "en + the present participle."
An infinitive that is passive in meaning is preceded by à.
Y a-t-il quelque chose à voir? = Is there anything to see (= to be seen)?
Impersonal expressions composed of "il + être + adjective" require "de" before the infinitive. In this case, the infinitive is really the subject.
Il est bon de dire la vérité. = It is good to tell the troth. (= To tell the truth is good.)
NOT: Notice the difference in the use of the prepositions before the infinitive in the following French sentences.
Il est difficile d'apprendre le chinois. = It is difficult to learn Chinese. (impersonal)
Le chinois est difficile à apprendre. = Chinese is difficult to learn. (passive)
French makes clear the meaning of "it" by two distinct constructions. The translations of these sentences into English, although identical, have two different meanings.
Il est intéressant de lire. = It is interesting to read. (= Reading is interesting.)
C'est intéressant à lire. = It is interesting to read. (= The book, The letter, etc. is interesting to read.)
Memorize: Il est bon de..... and C'est bon à.....