Nous sommes toujours en première ligne, à risquer nos vies.

Nous sommes assis autour d'une table, à boire du vin.

The precise meaning of « à » in instances like these eludes me. I suppose that it is different from using « pour ».

  • 1
    On peut remplacer à par en train de.
    – mouviciel
    May 24, 2016 at 9:12

2 Answers 2


May be a translation could help you figure it out, if you're a native English speaker ? I'll give this a shot :

We're still in the front line, risking our lives.

We're seated at a table, drinking wine.

Here, "à" is just used to convey a sense of simultaneity to both actions, whereas "pour" would mean that we're seated at a table in order to drink wine (in which case I'd recommend an AA meeting asap).

  • Hi. Do they have the same meanings as "en risquant" and "en buvant"? May 24, 2016 at 10:33

A late answer here, but it occurs to me that this construction, i.e. "à + infinitive", crops up when the present participle is unavailable, after verbs evoking states rather than actions. In other words, you might say, "il a réussi à venir, en risquant sa vie", but not "à risquer..." or "nous écoutons le concert, en buvant du vin" but not "à boire...". The "à + infinitive" sequences seem to provide a development, or a gloss of the main clause to the left.

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