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]


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


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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