Take the 2-minute tour ×
French Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the French language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have seen one form of using avoir, recently, like this: à avoir eu.

I forgot the phrase itself, but, for example in this phrase I just found in Google:

Les jeunes de l’OM sont 2 sur 14 à avoir eu le bac cette année.

What kind of form is it? When/Where it supposed to be used?..

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This à is a preposition and is not part of the verb form. This sentence is based on the construction “être [un certain nombre] à like in:

Ils sont 3 sur 4 à regarder la télé plus de trois heures par jour.
Ils sont plus de la moitié à regretter son départ.

This preposition is then followed by a verb in infinitive form. In French an infinitive can be given an “accomplished aspect” (aspect révolu), which is formed using the appropriate auxiliary verb (it depends on the main verb) and the past participle. In your case “avoir” becomes “avoir eu”. Other examples:

Elle se rappelle avoir marché sur les Champs Élysées.
Il pensait avoir résolu le problème.
Ils croient être allés sur Mars.

And in passive form:

Il croyait avoir été compris.

share|improve this answer
    
why there is no 'à' here: Il pensait (à) avoir résolu le problème. ? –  ses Nov 6 '12 at 16:26
1  
I still do not understand when to put 'à' and when not to. –  ses Nov 6 '12 at 16:50
3  
@ses Dictionary. This is the same reason you cannot know by looking at it whether an English verb is catenative (whether it takes "to" after it or not) or not. That's a feature of the word itself in the same way that its meaning or its spelling are. –  Circeus Nov 6 '12 at 17:52
1  
"Il pensait qu'il avait eu un pneu crevé" would be similar to "il pensait avoir eu un pneu crevé". But shorter is better in this case. –  Stéphane Gimenez Nov 6 '12 at 22:07
1  
@ses notice that "Il pensait à résoudre le problème" and "Il pensait résoudre le problème" don't have exactly the same meaning. The later somehow implies that he has already tried something to solve the problem but it didn't work. –  hoang Nov 7 '12 at 14:23
show 3 more comments

You can translate it word by word to “to have had”, and as far as I can tell, it has the same meaning.

Avoir eu is called the past infinitive of avoir, and “indicates an action that occurred before the action of the main verb, but only when the subject of both verbs is the same.”

The second part of it is “être quelques-uns à faire quelque chose”, which does not translate very well in English, but means “those who did this (or to whom this happened) were, say, a few”.

Here, “they were 2 out of 14 to pass the exam” seems not so poorly said. (Or “… to have received their diploma”, to stick to the french construction)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.