How do I translate these 2 sentences to French?

  1. I told her, that I still needed the form.
  2. She told me that I needed a new form with today's date.

My attempt

  1. Je lui ai dit d'avoir encore besoin de cette fiche.
  2. Elle m'a dit qu'il me faille une nouvelle fiche avec la date d'aujourd'hui.

(Context: the form is filled out by a visitor with a laptop before being allowed to enter a building. The form has a date stamped on it. A new form is required if the visitor returns the next day.)

1 Answer 1


In such constructions, the usage of the infinitive is a bit special. A sentence such as “Je lui ai dit de venir” can only mean that the person you are talking to is doing the action. You are asking the person to come; you are not telling them that you will come.

Your first sentence should therefore read “Je lui ai dit que j'ai/avais encore besoin de cette fiche”.

In your second sentence you use an impersonal construction. As you noticed you have to use a full proposition with a conjugated verb: “Elle m'a dit qu'il me faut/fallait une nouvelle fiche avec la date d'aujourd'hui.” Dire is never followed by a verb in the subjunctive.

In both cases, the tenses of the subordinate clauses are often chosen to match with the one of the principal clause. The imparfait is the preferred form unless you want to particularly stress the fact that, as of speaking, the problem is still to be solved. In which cases you can use present or future tenses (the usage is quite similar to the English one here).

  • 1
    What about the imperative? Wouldn't dire be followed by a verb in the subjunctive if the original sentence was an order? Like Il lui dit : "Viens chez moi." -> Il lui dit qu’il vienne chez lui. (from here). Is that correct?
    – Yay
    Mar 4, 2016 at 9:36
  • @Yay Nop, you want to say "Il lui (a) dit de venir chez lui", as it is referenced in your link. You can say "Il veut qu'il vienne chez lui". Because you use a pronoun with "dire", you use the inifinitive form to describe the action. In my second example, you don't, so you can use the subjonctive.
    – Limo
    Mar 4, 2016 at 10:21
  • @Yay . Il demande qu'il vienne chez lui (laid) => il lui demande/ordonne/propose/enjoint/... de venir chez lui. Mar 4, 2016 at 11:32

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