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When to use “Pour” before a verb in French

French prepositions are confusing

One of the most confusing things about learning French (and probably many other languages) are prepositions.

Many translate into English as to which doesn’t help us Anglophones who are learning French. Pour can appear to be one of those confusing prepositions. However I’ve found a rule to demystify pour.

I recently discovered how to decide whether or not to use pour before an infinitive to slightly ease the headache!

Translate pour into in order to. *mind. blown.*

In English we often negate the in order part. But consciously adding it when thinking of the translation to French, ask yourself if the sentence makes sense in English. If so, you should use pour.

Obviously not for every use of pour, just when you need to put a preposition before the infinitive form of a verb.


  • Je suis en France pour améliorer mon français = I’m in France [in order] to improve my French.
  • Je vais passer cet examen pour pouvoir chercher du travail comme traducteur = I’m going to take this exam [in order] to be able to find work as a translator.
  • Il s’est couché* tôt pour se lever tôt = He went to bed early [in order] to wake up early.
  • Le dimanche matin, elles allaient au parc pour courir. = On Sunday mornings, they went to the park [in order] to run.

It’s only been a few days that I’ve been using this, but I’ve had them verified as correct.

I’d begrudgingly love to know any exceptions to this. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


*Thanks to KAT for the correction.

Published inFrenchLanguage LearningPrepositions