I learned recently that "à boire" can act like a noun, by meaning the same thing as "quelque chose à boire".

But I learned also that there are some restrictions when used like this.

For example, all the following sentences are correct:

Je veux quelque chose à boire.
Je veux à boire.

But if I try to use à boire where I could use a different noun, such as la boisson, sometimes it makes incorrect sentences:

Je veux quelque chose à boire de chaud. <-- OK
Je veux à boire de chaud. <-- INCORRECT

Qu'est-ce que tu penses de quelque chose à boire ? <-- OK
Qu'est-ce que tu penses de à boire ? <-- INCORRECT

Qu'est-ce que tu penses de la boisson ? <-- OK
Qu'est-ce que tu penses de à boire ? <-- INCORRECT

Est-ce que tu veux la boisson chaude ? <-- OK
Est-ce que tu veux à boire chaude ? <-- INCORRECT

It seems that I can't use adjectives (such as de chaud or chaud) with à boire, nor can de preceed à boire.

What are the rules about how à [infinitive] is allowed to be used like a noun?

  • 1
    "Je veux à boire de chaud." n'est pas correct
    – Plue
    Feb 13, 2018 at 13:34
  • @Plue thanks; editting my question now.
    – silph
    Feb 13, 2018 at 14:03
  • 3
    seems to me that Je veux quelque chose à boire de chaud is not correct, I would use Je veux quelque chose de chaud à boire instead Feb 13, 2018 at 14:18
  • 1
    also, Qu'est-ce que tu pense de quelque chose à boire? sounds really REALLY weird to me Que dirais-tu de boire quelque chose is way better ;) Feb 13, 2018 at 14:36
  • Your case 2 and 3 are incorrect at the very least in part because French simply does not (Unsurprisingly. In fact, I suspect not a single Indo-European language allows it) allow prepositions to combine this way.
    – Circeus
    Feb 13, 2018 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


It is incorrect, unhelpful at least, to think of the construction "à boire" as a noun. It is more an abbreviation of the phrase "quelque chose à boire". As in English, if you want to use an adjective, you need the "something" to attach it to: "something hot to drink" > "quelque chose de chaud à boire" or else "une boisson chaude à boire".

  • I would add that the sentences Je veux à boire. and Je veux à manger. are expressions. It is therefore incorrect to add adjectives to those particular sentences since they are in a way "incorrect" French sentences. Feb 27, 2018 at 20:20

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