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I definitely learned this, but I forgot. When you say something like "He is going to do the laundry" you would say "Il va faire", but what if you said something like:

Est-ce qu'elle a utilisé la voiture pour aller au centre-ville ?

Why do you say "pour aller"? Couldn't it just be the infinitive? Nobody really ever explained this to me, and I don't know when to use which.

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What do you actually think it would be otherwise? I have difficulties imagining it. Isn't "pour aller" the equivalent of "to go" in "she used the car to go to the city center"? –  JeromeJ Jun 12 '13 at 1:56

2 Answers 2

I think you read too much in the fact that the normal verb "to go" is translated by "aller" while quasimodal "going to" is translated by using "aller" as an auxiliary. There may be a deep linguistic reason, but in day to day life, it's easier to consider quasimodal usage as totally independent of normal one. Let's have a look at another example:

  • She used to go down-town.
  • She used her car to go down-town.

In the first sentence, "use to go" is a quasimodal construction just like "going to". To translate it, you have to know the idiomatic way to express the idea (avoir l'habitude de)

In the second sentence, "to go" is a goal complement; goal complement are expressed in French with "pour + inf.".

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Pour can be used for different things, but in the case you are talking about, it means in order to.

When you say "He is going to do the laundry", you don't mean "He is going in order to do the laundry". You mean he is going to do it, in the future. That's why we don't use pour in that case, and we translate with future by saying "Il va faire".

But when you say "She took her car to go somewhere", you do mean "She took her car in order to go somewhere", that's why we use pour.

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