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Je suis [contente/content] de ne pas avoir à te trimballer !

I always thought that you have to place a verb or an auxiliary verb like avoir between ne and pas, so I wonder why this is not the case here. Is the de ne pas avoir à a set phrase, which means “to not have to”?


Also, I have a few questions about pronunciation:

  1. Do you pronounce the phrase pas avoir à like it is a single word? [pa-zavuwaa-ra]
  2. Do native French speakers often leave out the sound of the word de in this sentence in colloquial French?
  3. If the speaker is a man, I should replace contente with content, correct? When pronouncing content, do you leave out the "t" sound from the end?
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You're right, usually you place the verb between "ne" and "pas", but that applies to conjugated verbs. When the verb is not conjugated, it goes after both particles, e.g. "Ne pas manger" or "Ne pas ouvrir". Your example is not an order, but the same principle applies. "Ne pas avoir à" is not really a set phrase, but more of a set construction, but it does indeed mean "to not have to".

Regarding your other questions, I think you mean to ask if we pronounce the liaisons between those words, as there's not really any concept of pronouncing a phrase like it's a single word. I think in this instance it's optional. I wouldn't pronounce the s, but some people would. I think it might be regional.

Native French speakers would not drop the "de", but would drop the "ne" while speaking. This applies to a lot of sentences. And you are right about your last question. "Content" is indeed pronounced without the final t sound.

  • Merci. I didn't know that when using the original form of a verb such as ouvrir, I should place the verb after ne pas. And... Oui, I wanted to ask about "liaisons". :) Now I understand that it is not common to liaise pas and avoir, but how about the liaison between avoir and à? Do you pronounce them like avoirà? – pourrait Peut-être Jan 9 '16 at 18:17
  • And yes, I have noticed that French speakers tend to drop ne in colloquial speech. Would you drop ne in this sentence: "Je suis contente de pas avoir à te trimballer !"? – pourrait Peut-être Jan 9 '16 at 18:23
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    Infinitive form, not original form. Words like these help a lot with googling things :) – temporary_user_name Jan 9 '16 at 21:09
  • @pourraitpuet-etre The r is not actually a liaison because you would pronounce the R no matter what, so it will bleed in the next word but it's nothing special. On the other hand, if you say "pas" on its own, you don't pronounce the s. Pronouncing a letter that is not usually pronounced because of the following word is liaison. You may want to have a look at the Wikipedia page. – Kareen Jan 9 '16 at 22:09
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    @pourraitpuet-etre And yes, that is how I would say it; dropping the "ne" if I just spoke the sentence. I might actually say something like "J'suis contente de pas avoir à t'trimballer". A lot of final E's are shifted into schwas in French and might end up not pronounced (maybe particularly in Canada?). – Kareen Jan 9 '16 at 22:12

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