Il Faut Meaning

Il faut translates to both ‘it’s necessary’ or ‘it’s needed’ in French. This page will discover several usages of il faut and offer several example sentences. Il faut is the third-person singular form of the verb falloir, meaning to be necessary. The verb is only conjugated in the il form.

The expression il faut is closely related to avoir besoin de, which also means to need. On this separate page you can find a a lesson covering differences between il faut, avoir besoin and devoir.

Il faut usage and examples

1) Il faut + infinitive

This translates roughly to “it’s necessary”, “you have to’ or “one has to”.

  • Il faut travailler pour réussir dans la vie! You have to work to succeed in life.
  • Il faut faire très attention à la pronunciation! You have to pay attention to pronunciation!
  • Il faut étudier tous les verbes! You have to study all the verbs.

2) Il faut que + subjunctive

Il faut que is an impersonal expression which requires the use of the subjunctive. It translates loosely to one must, it’s necessary to or you have to.

While the previous “Il faut + infinitive” is used for expressing ideas in a general sense, “Il faut que + subjunctive” is directed at a specific person.

  • Il faut que tu fasses attention. You need to pay attention.
  • Il faut que tu ailles en France. You need to go to France.
  • Il faut que tu sois patient. You need to be patient.

3) Il faut quelque chose à quelqu’un

The structure, “il faut quelque chose à quelqu’un” is very similar to “avoir besoin de”, which means to need. The word or grammatical particle replacing “à quelqu’un” is the indirect object.

For example. “Il faut une voiture à Pierre” would become “Il lui faut une voiture”, or “He needs a car”. This lesson covers indirect object pronouns.

  • Il me faut une fourchette pour manger le steak. I need a fork to eat the stake.
  • Il te faut un billet d’avion pour aller en France. You need a plane ticket to go to France.
  • Il leur faut cinq dollars pour acheter les bonbons. They need $5 to buy the candy.

Different tenses for il faut

In addition to the above three usages, il faut can also be used in other tenses than the present tense.

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futur simple

In the futur simple, il faut becomes il faudra.

  • Il faudra que tu travailles demain. You’ll have to work tomorrow.
  • Il faudra acheter la voiture. It will be necessary to buy the car.
  • Il me faudra un peu plus de temps. I’ll need a little more time.

Furtur proche

The futur proche is the “going to” tense and is formed with “aller + infinitive”. In the instance of “il faut”, the infinitive is falloir, which means to be necessary.

This page covers the French future tense in great detail.

  • Il va falloir que tu fasses quelque chose. It will be necessary that you do something.
  • Il va falloir vendre le bateau. It will be necessary to sell the boat.

Passé composé

In the passé composé, “il faut” becomes “il a fallu”, which translates to “it was necessary to”. This page offers a comprehensive guide to the passé composé.

  • Il a fallu nettoyer la cuisine. It was necessary to clean the kitchen.
  • Il a fallu acheter la voiture. It was necessary to buy the car.

Imparfait

Il faut can also be used in the imparfait. In this form, “il faut” appears as “il fallait”.

  • Il fallait dire queque chose. It was necessary to say something.
  • Il fallait demander en avance. It was necessary to ask in advance.

Past conditional

In the past conditional “il faut” becomes “il aurait fallu”, meaning it would have been necessary.

  • Il aurait fallu acheter la maison l’année derniere. It would have been necessary to buy the house last year.
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