Ce serait aller à l'encontre de mes principes que de rentrer sans payer ma dette !

If I were saying this sentence myself, I would see no reason to place « que » right where it is. How does this compare to saying:

Ce serait aller à l'encontre de mes principes de rentrer sans payer ma dette !

  • 1
    Pas de réponse courte, je suis sûre qu'on eut trouver des gloses sur la question ! Obligation du que dans la complétive ? avec quelles tournures ? variations régionales au sein de la francophonie ? Réponse courte : l'omission du subordonnant que dans les subordonnées complétives est possible. Mais il faudrait rédiger quelque chose de plus substantiel que de dire que l'omission est du ressort du langage relâché ou variante de la francophonie. Et aussi dire que que sans de se trouve aussi. Et bien sûr on peut aussi mettre l'infinitive en sujet direct (rentrer sans... serait aller à...). – Laure Jul 9 '17 at 8:02
  • oops qu'on peut – Laure Jul 9 '17 at 8:17
  • Maybe to Emphasize? – Regis Portalez Jul 9 '17 at 14:46
  • I would also be very much interested in how this de que might be rendered into English. – ΥΣΕΡ26328 Jul 9 '17 at 15:21
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    @Alone-zee I think you're quite right — which is to say that one can't laisser tomber « que » and still employ the intended structure. (At least, as I learned it in terms of "bon usage". Although the more time I spend over at ELL answering questions rather than asking or reflecting on them, the less stock I put in that notion! After all, Laure says you can drop it but there's a complex set of factors... – Luke Sawczak Jul 10 '17 at 0:55

In Glanville Price's A Comprehensive French Grammar, the function of que in the construction que de + infinitive is thus explained:

261 In the construction c'est + complement + infinitive, when the infinitive is the 'logical subject' of the verb (as in 'It would be a mistake to leave' which is the equivalent of 'To leave would be a mistake'), the infinitive is introduced by de or que de, e.g.:

C'est une erreur (que) de répondre à cette lettre.

Ce serait manquer de tact (que) de partir maintenant.

C'est agaçant (que) d’être mécompris.

Thus in such constructions que is always optional.

  • Nope. The sentence means, "It would be acting contrary to my principles to leave without paying my debt". There's no comparison here. You'd be right though if it were "Ce serait mieux d'aller... que de rentrer..."; however, "de" would not be optional. – Right leg Jul 11 '17 at 19:30

"The Structure of Modern Standard French" by Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen goes further than ΥΣΕΡ26328 (above) and suggests the following rules. (They appear in a discussion of infinitive clauses as postponed subjects.)

  1. In [infinitive] clauses that contain a subject attribute, the infinitive marker will take the form que de if the subject attribute is also an infinitive clause. Thus:

    Ce serait aller à l'encontre de mes principes que de rentrer sans payer ma dette

  2. If the subject attribute takes the form of a noun phrase, either de or que de may be used. Thus:

    Ce serait une bonne idée que de rentrer sans payer ma dette, or

    Ce serait une bonne idée de rentrer sans payer ma dette


It is a more correct and formal way for your sentence. There is another case where you can encounter a similar form

"Je préfère courir plutôt que de marcher"

Most people would say

"Je préfère courir plutôt que marcher"

Here you can see that "de" is often missing, but the correct form is the first one. There is no reason why, it is this way and no another, don't ask why ;)

Source : Projet Voltaire (French advanced certification)

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    Hi. Actually, I'm afraid the point you have raised about "plutôt que de" does not provide a rationale for the use of "que" in my example: 1) My question is about "que", not about an omissible "de". 2) "Que" is an integral part of the phrase "plutôt que", while in my example "que" is not directly related to any of the words in the sentence. :) – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jul 10 '17 at 14:11
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    A reliable source (like a link to Projet Voltaire) would be needed. After plutôt que de is optional, according to Grevisse, to the BDL, to the TLF. I could not find what youre saying on Projet Voltaire, They're usually very good, I'm amazed you read that. But anyway the OP isn't asking about plutôt que. – Laure Jul 10 '17 at 14:19
  • As I said in the introduction, it is another case, a similar form. It's just to show that things may be like that for no particular reason :) For the source, I had the certification this year, I may find you a link soon ! EDIT : you're right, can't find the rule with a public link, but it is part of the certification. – Sayardiss Jul 17 '17 at 7:53

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