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I recently learned that "à boire" can be used as an abbreviation for "quelque chose à boire". As in: "Je veux à boire".

This got me wondering: if I see "Je + [conjugated verb] + à boire", will "à boire" always stand for this abbreviation?

I looked at this website (https://www.thoughtco.com/a-french-preposition-1368910). It says:

avoir à + infinitive = to be obliged to [infinitive]

Question

Is "J'ai à boire." ambiguous? That is, could it mean "I have something to drink", as well as "I am obliged to drink"?

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Technically, it is ambiguous but practically, the first meaning is the only one that will be understood unless the context strongly suggest otherwise (eg. J'ai à boire ça ?)

To express the "to be obliged to" meaning, we would say:

Je dois boire.

Il faut que je boive.

Il me faut boire.

  • the same goes for "J'ai à manger" = "I have something to eat" – ON5MF Jurgen Feb 16 '18 at 12:32
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    Your first sentence (that technically it is ambiguous) is what I was looking for, so thanks. (The other information is appreciated as bonus facts). French is my first second-language I'm learning, and so these little things about "could à boire mean two different things?" seem to be really important for me to get more comfortable with the language, and less confused as I learn it! I'll accept your answer in a few days if no one gives a more insightful answer. – silph Feb 16 '18 at 12:57

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