1 : C'est à peine si tu fais des efforts.

2 : Tu fais à peine des efforts.

3 : Tu ne fais guère d'efforts.

I would use the 1st construction myself, but I wonder if there are some nuances to take note of between the three. I’m not sure if the 2nd is grammatical.

2 Answers 2


Ne … guère means here "a little but not much" while à peine si means in the first sentence "almost not", i.e. the first measurable level above no effort at all so in the third sentence, more efforts are made than in the first one.

The second sentence is less likely to be used than the others.

À peine is usually followed by something rather precise, e.g. Tu fais à peine ton travail, tu fais à peine 1 m 60, tu fais à peine dix minutes d'entrainement but des efforts is vague and not quantifiable enough.

  • It is interesting to know that the negative construction "ne ... guère" is actually somewhat more positive than the affirmative construction "à peine". Merci. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 8:27
  • Am I right in thinking that I need to say "tu fais à peine des efforts" instead of "tu fais à peine d'efforts"? Because the sentence itself is an affirmative construction despite its negative meaning? Merci. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 8:42
  • Yes, "tu fais à peine d'efforts" is not grammatical.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 8:45

Je pense que

Tu ne fais guère d'effort.

est plus commun et également plus proche du sens anglais dans ton example. Note que hardly peut aussi être utiliser dans le sens de avec difficulté

He can hardly stand up.

Il peut à peine se lever.

  • 1
    Tu ne fais guère d'efforts, parce qu'on suppose qu'on fait quand même plusieurs efforts. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 16:23

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