French Impersonal Verbs: Verbes impersonnels

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In order to understand French impersonal verbs, you first have to understand that they have nothing to do with personality. "Impersonal" simply means that the verb does not change according to grammatical person. Therefore, impersonal verbs have only one conjugation: the third person singular indefinite, or il, which in this case is equivalent to "it" in English.

Notes

  • Click on the underlined verbs to see how they are conjugated in all the simple tenses.
  • Many impersonal verbs can also be used personally with somewhat different meanings - these are noted in the last column for your reference.

 * Indicates that the verb needs the subjunctive.
 

Impersonal Verb Meaning

Personal Meaning

s'agir de: to be a question of, to have to do with agir: to act, behave
Il s'agit d'argent. It has to do with money.
Il s'agit de faire ce qu'on peut. It's a question of doing what one can.
arriver: to happen, to be a possibility arriver: to arrive
Il est arrivé un accident. There's been an accident.
Il m'arrive de faire des erreurs. I sometimes make mistakes.
convenir: to be advisable, to be agreed convenir: to suit
Il convient d'être prudent. Caution is advised.
Il est convenu que nous déciderons demain. It is agreed that we will decide tomorrow.
faire: to be (with weather or temperature) faire: to do, make
Il fait du soleil.
Il faisait froid. It was cold.
falloir*: to be necessary
Il faut le faire. It has to be done.
Il faudra que je le fasse /
Il me faudra le faire.
It will be necessary for me to do it /
I will have to do it.
importer*: to matter, be important importer: to import
Il importe qu'elle vienne. It's important that she come.
Il importe de le faire. It's important to do it.
neiger: to snow
Il neige. It's snowing.
Il va neiger demain. It's going to snow tomorrow.
se passer: to happen passer: to pass, spend (time)
Qu'est-ce qui se passe ? What's happening?
Ça s'est mal passé. It went badly.
pleuvoir: to rain
Il pleut. It's raining.
Il a plu hier. It rained yesterday.
se pouvoir*: to be possible pouvoir: can, to be able
Il se peut qu'elles soient là. They may be there /
It's possible that they will be there.
Se peut-il que Luc finisse ? Is it possible that Luc will finish? /
Could it be that Luc will finish?
sembler*: to seem sembler: to seem
Il semble qu'elle soit malade. It seems that she is sick.
Il (me) semble impossible. It seems impossible (to me).
suffire*: to suffice, be enough suffire: to suffice
Il suffit que tu le fasses demain /
Il te suffit de le faire demain.
It's enough if you do it tomorrow.
Ça suffit ! That's enough!
tenir à: to depend on tenir: to hold, keep
Il ne tient qu'à toi de... It's up to you to...
Ça tient à peu de chose. It can go either way (literally: it depends on little)
se trouver: to be, to happen to be trouver: to find
Il se trouve toujours des gens qui... There are always people who...
Il se trouve que c'est moi. It happens to be me.
valoir mieux*: to be better valoir: to be worth
Il vaut mieux le faire toi-même.
Il vaut mieux que tu le fasses.
It's better for you to do it (yourself).
venir: to come venir: to come
Il vient beaucoup de monde. A lot of people are coming.
Il vient un moment où... There comes a time when...