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Avoir du mal à – To have difficulty doing

Avoir du mal à – To have difficulty doing

Today we’ll focus on a simple yet extremely useful French expression: “avoir du mal à”, which means to have difficulty/trouble or to find it hard to do something.

avoir du mal à

to have difficulty doing something

Avoir du mal à meaning - To have difficulty doing in French

Avoir du mal à grammatical construction

This is how the the expression works: Conjugated form of avoir (to have) + du mal à + infinitive. For example, j’ai du mal à prononcer ce mot (I find it hard to pronounce this word).

Example sentences

This first example sentence makes use of reflexive verbs, which are “to myself verbs” in French.

J’ai du mal à me lever tôt le matin parce que je me couche trop tard.

I have a hard time getting up early in the morning because I go to bed too late.

This second example makes reference to the French -r, which is very difficult for many students.

John a du mal à prononcer le “r” français. C’est trop difficile pour lui.

John struggles to pronounce the French -r. It’s too hard for him.

In this example sentence, the word aiguë (high) has a tréma (dieresis) accent. Normally, the rule for the dieresis is for the two side-by-side vowels to get pronounced. Here, however, aiguë is pronounced [ay-gu].

Sylvie a du mal à chanter la chanson parce que sa voix est trop aiguë.

Sylvie is having difficulty sining the song because her voice is too high.

Nous avons du mal à comprendre pourquoi vous arrivez toujours en retard.

We’re having a hard time understanding why you always arrive late.

Conclusion

Et voilà ! You now know how use use avoir du mal à in French. Now check our our lesson covering tant pis (oh well, too bad).

French expression lessons

Avoir du mal à is an expression which means "to have a hard time doing" in French.
Avoir du mal à is an expression which means “to have a hard time doing” in French.

Lessons by David Issokson

References

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David Issokson
David Issokson is a lifelong language learner and speaks over seven languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private lessons. When not teaching or writing his French Word of the Day lessons, David enjoys his time skiing, hiking and mountain biking in Victor, Idaho.

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language learner and speaks over seven languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private lessons. When not teaching or writing his French Word of the Day lessons, David enjoys his time skiing, hiking and mountain biking in Victor, Idaho.

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