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In this dictionary, one can read the following:

il en est venu à mendier = he has been reduced to begging

Even though the dictionary is not explicit about it, I believe the expression is en être venir à.

If so, does en être venir à mean to be reduced to (something)?

I really hate it when online dictionaries don't make available the proper infinitive-based form of an expression, and their proper, infinitive-based translation into English. For all I know this English translation could simply be a literary rendering of the French original.

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C'est une occurrence de en venir à présent dans ce dictionnaire. –  Un francophone Jul 28 '13 at 17:35

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The expression is en venir à. When used in passé composé, you only have to conjugate the auxiliary verb être and to adjust venu with the correct agreement (gender and number).

It is not necessarily pejorative as in to be reduced to (something). It can rather be translated by to end up (doing something). It is only as pejorative as the action behind it.

For example (with a plural so you see how it goes) :

Leur voiture étant cassée, ils en sont venus à la location.
(Their car being broken, they ended up renting one.)

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The correct expression is en venir à, which here is conjugated in the passé composé. Because “venir” is used with “être” as the auxiliary verb, you have to make the participle agree with the subject. –  Édouard Jul 28 '13 at 16:46
    
You are totally right. I suppose you should post your own answer, I'll delete mine after. –  Louis Carrese Jul 29 '13 at 7:30

I would not take "en venir à" for a real gallicism. "venir" could be replaced by "arriver" (with a slight hue of some effort), or "parvenir" (with definite exertion) - and the reverse "déchoir", rather in this case "déchoir au point de" ; and "en" means nothing more than "grâce à" or "à cause de".

It could be used at any time and mood of the verb. "Il est très apprécié comme chef de rayon, il en parviendra à être gérant". "S'il n'avait été soigné à temps, il en serait aujourd'hui déchu à l'alcoolisme incurable".

Pitfall : "un parvenu" = a parvenu, an upstart.

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Les phrases proposées en exemple sont mal formées et à peine compréhensibles. –  Stéphane Gimenez Sep 25 '13 at 22:12
    
Je suis ouvert à toute critique, admets que mes exemples sont quelque peu elliptiques, mais ne comprends pas la remarque de M. Gimenez : "Par son ambition et sa ruse, il en est parvenu à ses fins" serait-il incorrect ? –  ex-user2728 Sep 26 '13 at 0:11
    
Le en est en trop dans cette phrase. Dans l'exemple de ta réponse le en est mal placé : il parviendra à en être le gérant. –  Stéphane Gimenez Sep 26 '13 at 10:05
    
@MarkThorin lorsque qu'une réponse a trois ou plus votes négatifs (et aucun positif), la supprimer et la reformuler correctement ensuite vous permet d'améliorer votre score. –  cl-r Oct 1 '13 at 13:14

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