In #19432, it is mentioned that 'finir' can mean 'to end up with'. The example given there is that the sentence

J’ai fini le cœur sans défense

is translated as 'I ended up with a defenseless heart'.

Does it then mean that, without a context, one cannot really tell that, for example,

J'ai fini le roman

means 'I finished the novel', rather than 'I ended up with the novel' (that I may not want)?

  • Finir does not mean "to end up with" and saying J'ai fini le roman can never mean "I ended up with the novel". According to the context "I ended with the novel" could be : Je me suis retrouvé avec le roman", *il m'est resté le roman, and more...
    – None
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:24
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    @Laure (s)he is talking about the quoted answer which says: "J'ai fini le coeur sans défense => I ended up with a defenless hearth."
    – Random
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:26

3 Answers 3


"Finir" carries the notion of "end". To finish something is to carry it to its end.

In French, the primary sense of the verb "finir" is a synonym to "terminer":

J'ai fini de préparer à manger, à table !

Je termine ma lecture et j'arrive !

The sense of "to end up" is "after the events, to be in a certain situation". In French if you want to use "finir" for that you have to use the right préposition:

Ils ont fini par me laisser passer.

J'ai fini avec un mal de crâne pas possible, et je me suis promis de ne plus jamais boire.

Or you can use another verb:

Je me suis retrouvé avec le roman entre les mains, alors que je n'en voulais pas.

In some unambiguous cases some parts of the sentence can be elided, and the result can seems strange for non-native speakers:

Après une bagarre de taverne, Grumsh finit (par se retrouver) à l'hôpital.

In case of doubt, try to insert "par se retrouver" (or "par me/te retrouver") after the verb "finir". If it makes more sense there is a good chance that there is an elision here and the meaning is "to end up".

  • Ah OK. In #19432, 'J'ai fini le cœur sans défense' is to be understood as 'I have ended up with a defenseless heart'. What's the logic behind that sense of 'finir'?
    – Taiki
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:32
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    @Taiki I think there is an ellision of "avec". You could say the same thing this way: "J'ai fini avec le coeur sans défense". You may understand it as "Finally": "Finally, my heart was defensless"
    – Random
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:36
  • @Random Ah OK. Is it a common practice to omit 'avec' in such manner?
    – Taiki
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:49
  • 1
    @Taiki Yes it is
    – Random
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:54
  • 1
    If the object of the verb finir is something that is 'finishable', then it means finish (a book, a series, etc...). If not, it's probably a state or a place and it means end up. Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:39

Every word has a lot of possible meanings.

Among many meaning, « finir » can be translated to « To end up » or to « to complete ».

If « finir » is followed by an adjective (situation or a state), it means « to end up ».

for instance : J’ai fini fauché -> I ended up broke; J’ai fini fatigué -> I ended up tired.

If « finir » is followed by a noun or a verb, it means « to complete ».

for instance : J’ai fini de cuisiner -> I completed cooking; J’ai fini la révision de mes leçons -> I finished studying my lessons.



It seems you didn't understand how the verb finir is working.

First of all, your sentence is a shortcut. You would say "J'ai fini de lire le roman" to be more explicit. Using J'ai fini, without a verb after it, is a shortcut used a lot of time in french, and might be hard to understand by foreigners.

EDIT : After some research, shortcutting here is not a bad practice, but only something to be careful about to be understandable by foreigners.

Second, "finir" alone is used to signify "to finish"

"ça va mal finir" => this will end up badly.

Third, if you want to add the "end up" signification while using "finir", you might say "j'ai fini par faire quelque chose" => I ended up doing something.

Hopefully, it is clear...

  • There is no point trying to teach a different language than the one that is spoken in France, j'ai fini le roman is correct French, not a bad practice. On the other hand, ça va finir mal is unidiomatic, the usual order is ça va mal finir.
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 13:51
  • @jlliagre indeed for the ça va finir mal <= edited. I will search for "j'ai fini le roman" but I am sure it is not "good" french, but people use it. So I have edited my answer
    – Gautier C
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 13:54
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    "Nous avons fini le roman de la Révolution, nous devons maintenant commencer son histoire" Napoléon Bonaparte au Conseil d'État, nov. 1800.
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:05
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    @Taiki No, j'ai fini le roman can only mean "I have finished the novel." Your sentence would translate as Je me suis retrouvé avec le roman dont je ne voulais pas.
    – None
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:26
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    Finir alone does not is signify "death/bad things". It just means "finish", neither good nor bad.
    – None
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:29

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