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I came across the following sentence in an interview I am reading in a magazine:

Cela m'a initié au fait que la sexualité peut être très amusante et sécuritaire.

I figured out that "au fait" is not an interjection, but instead the construction is "initié à + le fait que [...]", where "fait" is a noun that means "fact".

But still, if I deleted "au fait" as if it was an interjection, the English translation still makes sense:

Cela m'a initié que la sexualité peut être très amusante et sécuritaire.
(This taught me that sexuality can be very fun and of-security)

But I am unsure if I'm allowed to do this.

Question:
Is

Cela m'a initié que la sexualité peut être très amusante et sécuritaire.

a correct sentence?

  • Sécuritaire is odd here, should rather be amusante et sûre. You sentence might have been Cela m'a appris que la sexualité... – jlliagre Apr 9 '18 at 8:12
  • [deleted -- this was meant for the answer below!] – silph Apr 9 '18 at 8:21
  • @silph Your second quote is incorrect. Initier does not translate to teach, nor is initiate an equivalent for teach in English (they have different objects). – guillaume31 Apr 9 '18 at 11:26
  • @guillaume31 I got the meaning of "to teach" from wordreference.com/fren/initier – silph Apr 9 '18 at 11:28
  • Unlike teach someone that ... *, *initiate someone that ... is not grammatically correct in English. It's exactly the same in French. – guillaume31 Apr 9 '18 at 11:31
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No, you have to use it.

Initier doesn't behave like apprendre, it's closer to introduce (to something), both in meaning and grammar. It's supposed to be used for a wide subject, not something very precise.

Il m'a initié à la philosophie.

Je suis allé à cours d'initiation au tir à l'arc.

Initier is always transitive, so you always have to use "Initier à". Using au fait que is a workaround to use initier instead of apprendre, to convey the idea of "gently dipping into a subject", but they're not really synonyms.


In the same way, you can't say "malgré que" (despite the fact that a lot of people say it), like in English actually: despite must be followed by a noun, so you have to transform your subordinate sentence ("a lot of people say it") to be a noun, and you do that by adding "the fact that".

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No, it is not. "au fait" is needed here. "initier" can be 'transitif' - it is the case here, it takes the meaning "to be taught" ; or 'intransitif', it then takes the meaning "to begin"

  • The wordreference on initier seems to indicate that initier is never intransitive; that is it only transitive? wordreference.com/fren/initier – silph Apr 9 '18 at 8:23
  • I wonder why "apprendre que" is okay, but "initier que" is not? I would have thought that a dictionary would tell me this? Oh well. This leads, now, to a more complicated question that I might write up tomorrow, about when I'm allowed to use "que" as a conjunction, and when I'm not! – silph Apr 9 '18 at 8:23
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    A method I sometimes use to figure out if a construction is valid in some language is querying google books, e.g. : books.google.com/ngrams/… (Using that link, you might have to click again on the "Search lots of books" button to get results) – jlliagre Apr 9 '18 at 9:10

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