All About the French Verb Falloir

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Falloir is an irregular impersonal French verb that is better known in its conjugated form: il faut. Falloir means "to be necessary" or "to need." It is impersonal, meaning that it has only one grammatical person: the third person singular. It may be followed by the subjunctive, an infinitive, or a noun.

Examples of Falloir

   Il faut partir
   It's necessary to leave

   Il faut que nous partions
   We have to leave

   Il faut de l'argent pour faire ça
   It's necessary to have / You need money to do that

When falloir is followed by an infinitive or noun, it may be used with an indirect object pronoun to indicate who or what needs whatever comes next:

   Il faut manger
   It's necessary to eat

   Il nous faut manger
   We have to eat

   Il faut une voiture
   It's necessary to have a car

   Il me faut une voiture
   I need a car

Expressions with Falloir

Falloir is used in a number of expressions, including:

   ce qu'il faut - what is needed

   Il a bien fallu ! - I/We/They had to!

   s'il le faut - if (it's) necessary

   Faudrait voir à voir (informal) - Come on! Come off it!

   Il faut ce qu'il faut (informal) - You've got to do things right

S'en falloir

The impersonal pronominal construction s'en falloir means to be missing or short of something, as in "this action did not occur because something was missing":

   Tu as raté son appel, il s'en est fallu de 10 minutes
   You missed his call by 10 minutes

   Je n'ai pas perdu, mais il s'en est fallu de peu
   I very nearly lost (I didn't lose, but it was close)


Here are the most common tenses, or read about all tenses of falloir.

   Present tense   il faut
   Imperfect   il fallait
   Future   il faudra