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Obligation and Necessity - French Expressions

Idiomatic French expressions

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There are many French words and expressions related to obligation and necessity. Learn how to say it's my duty, to have no choice, to be obliged, whether you like it or not, and more French expressions of obligation and necessity.

Verbs and expressions followed by the infinitive

avoir besoin de
   to have to

avoir le devoir de*
   to have the duty of

avoir le triste devoir de*
   to have the sad duty of, to regret to

devoir
   must, to have to, to be supposed to

être censé faire quelque chose
   to be meant/supposed to do something

être forcé à
   to have to

être obligé de, se trouver obligé de
   to have to, to be obliged to

être de son devoir de
   to be one's duty to

falloir
   to be necessary to

Il est indispensable de
   It's indispensable to

Il est nécessaire de
   It's necessary to

Il est obligatoire de
   It's mandatory to

Il me faut
   I need to

Il m'incombe de*
   It falls to me to

Il revient à moi de
   It falls to me to

mettre quelqu'un dans l'obligation/la nécessité de faire
   to compel someone to do something

ne pas pouvoir faire autrement que de
   to have no choice but to

obliger quelqu'un à 
   to require someone to

se voir contraint de*
   to be compelled to

se voir dans l'obligation de*
   to be obliged to

*These expressions are very formal and are usually written, not spoken


Verbs and expressions followed by the subjunctive

demander que
   to ask that

exiger que
   to insist that

falloir que
   to be necessary that

il est obligatoire que
   it's mandatory that

il est nécessaire que
   it's necessary that

il est indispensable que
   it's essential that

il faut que
   it is necessary that


Adjectives related to obligation and necessity

absolument
   absolutely, really

au pis aller
   worst-case scenario, if worst comes to worst

bon gré, mal gré
   whether you like it or not

en aucun cas (with a negative statement)
   no matter what happens

en tout cas
   in any case, whatever happens

impérativement
   imperatively, really

surtout
   above all

vraiment
   really
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