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Avoir Besoin – To Need

Avoir Besoin – To Need

The French expression avoir besoin means “to need” and requires both the use of the verb avoir and the preposition de. This post examines how to use avoir besoin in conversational French and provides example sentences with audio.

/ avwaʀ bəzwɛ̃ /

to need

Avoir besoin

Avoir besoin de: How to say to need in French

How to use avoir besoin in French

The word besoin, in the context of “having the need for” is always combined with avoir (to have) and followed by the preposition de.

Avoir besoin de + noun

In the following example sentences, avoir besoin de is followed by a noun. Notice that de becomes d’, when preceding nouns starting with vowels.

  • J’ai besoin d’un café. I need a coffee.

Avoir besoin de + infinitive + noun

In these example sentences, avoir besoin de is followed by an infinitive and a noun.

  • J’ai besoin de boire un café. I need to drink a coffee.

Avoir besoin + infintive

Avoir besoin can also be followed by just an infinitive and no noun.

  • Vous avez besoin de dormir. You need to sleep.

Note that it is very common for beginners to forget to put the de after besoin. For example:

  • J’ai besoin d’apprendre le français. I need to learn the verbs. (This is correct).
  • J’ai besoin apprendre le français. (This is wrong as the de was omitted).

Avoir besoin in different tenses

The following two example sentences show how to use avoir besoin de in the futur proche and futur simple, the two main future tenses in French.

  • Tu vas avoir besoin de manger. You’re going to need to eat.
  • Tu auras besoin de manger. You’re going to need to eat.

In the passé composé, this same sentence looks like this:

  • Tu as eu besoin de manger. You needed to eat.

This sentence can also be written using the imperfect tense:

  • Tu avais besoin de manger. You needed to eat.

Besoin as a noun

Besoin is a noun and does not necessarily have to used in the expression avoir besoin de. Here are some examples:

  • La famille est dans le besoin. The family is needy (poor).

Avoir besoin vs. devoir

While avoir besoin de translates to need, the verb devoir translates to “must” or “to have to”. They can be used interchangeably when making sentences.

  • Je dois travailler. I must (have to) work.

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six 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 online lessons. When procrastinating working on FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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