Je vais essayer de vous montrer?

I translated into "I'm going to try to show you" but I don't understand why is there a "de" after "essayer"?

  • Oops that's what I meant, isn't the "to" already in both of the verbs?
    – ArielB
    Aug 13, 2016 at 10:25
  • 1
    You need the prepostion de to introduce the verb that follows essayer. Just as in English you need "to" to introduce the verbs that comes after "try". More here.
    – None
    Aug 13, 2016 at 10:34
  • All right, I think I understand, thanks!
    – ArielB
    Aug 13, 2016 at 11:05
  • ok i still dont understand, is it like what John said - no rules? "i try to go" - i essayer d'aller, "i want to go" - Je veux aller, so apparently the "try" verb needs the "de" - why?
    – ArielB
    Aug 17, 2016 at 7:05

3 Answers 3


(As answered in comments by @Laure) There is a difference between :

  • try something / essayer quelque chose

    I tried this new restaurant. / J'ai essayé ce nouveau restaurant.


  • try to do something / essayer de faire quelque chose

    I tried to not eat too much. / J'ai essayé de ne pas trop manger.

You added another question in comment between want/vouloir and try/essayer, the answer is different since it is more about "Why want to + [verb] = vouloir + [verbe]?".

It is about being a modal verb : vouloir is, but not want.

Some other English verbs express modality although they are not modal verbs because they are not auxiliaries, including want[...] -Wikipedia

  • i'm not sure i follow the 2 examples, in the first example you don't follow the essayer with a verb. but i saw that in french, you see alot of sentences that have 2 verbs (1 conjugated followed by a non conjugated one), without the "de", so you say that if i follow with a modal verb, i need to add the de?
    – ArielB
    Oct 22, 2016 at 20:18
  • essayer is not a modal verb, and has the same form it has in english. You add de/to when you use essayer/try + verb. You have to understand that "try to do" is a two verb sentence ... The rule is more that modal verbs don't need de after them to be before another verb. Je veux dormir (modal verb). J'essaye de dormir (not modal)
    – Yohann V.
    Oct 22, 2016 at 23:26
  • ah, ok, so it means that i'll add the "de" after non-modal verbs and modal verb will require the "de"? (verbs that expresses necessity or possibility - can / want / etc...) in that case - "i'm going to sleep" - should be "je vais de dormir"? or the "going to" here indicates a necessity? which means it's "je vais dormir?" (which sounds actually better to me)
    – ArielB
    Oct 25, 2016 at 14:53
  • It is a different case. "I'm going to sleep" translates into "Je vais dormir" or "Je vais me coucher". In english you have "to sleep" to express the infinitive form of the verb.
    – Yohann V.
    Oct 25, 2016 at 15:01

Here it means "to" (the "to" that forms part of an infinitive verb, such as to drive), and it functions as a way to link "essayer/try" to "vous montrer/show you", and luckily this is how we do it in English also.

In general, "de" can mean a number of different things (https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/de), and much of it is grammatical and so makes sense only when considered with the words around it and its function in the sentence. But on its own, if often translates to "of" or "from". "De" is quite versatile and as a result, unfortunately, confusing. Myself I'm learning French as well and still struggle with when/where to use it.


A few verbs use the preposition " à ", a few others " de " and others nothing. According to me, there aren't specific rules, just various utilisations which some are idiomatic. http://french.about.com/library/prepositions/bl_prep_verbs.htm https://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/pre4.html ...

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