I just came back from Tim Horton's, which is a well-known coffee shop in Canada. On the take-out bag (meant for holding donuts), it says:

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enjoy with our premium coffee blends.
à savourer avec nos mélanges de café de qualité supérieure.

My assumption is that "à savourer" is the "sentence fragment" passive infinitive construction, similar to signs that say "à louer" (literally, "for renting", or in more natural English, "for rent", as in "[this room is] for rent", or "à vendre" (as in, "[this item is] for sale").

1) Is my guess correct, that this is a "sentence fragment" passive infinitive construction?
2) Would it be correct to use the imperative form of "savourer", as the English sentence does?
3) What is the difference between using the imperative construction, and the passive infinitive construction? Would the imperative construction sound "rude"? Is the passive infinitive form implicitly telling me to buy coffee with my donut, or is it instead gently informing me that it is a nice idea that this donut be enjoyed with a coffee? Are there cases when the passive infinitive and the imperative construction is both possible, but one is more appropriate than the other?

  • In fact, I see the English version as less of a command & more of a recommendation as to how to best enjoy the contents of that bag (ie: WITH a good cup of coffee), which makes me wonder which version (Eng. or French) came first, 'cause I also see the French version like that (or maybe, as you note below, as an invitation). Your link to the" passive infinitive" includes one example where the Eng. version is slightly different/more passive than the others ("...peinture à vendre=...painting to be sold", which could've easily led to a less imperative English version ("To be enjoyed with .."). – Papa Poule Jun 3 '18 at 21:12
  • @PapaPoule to my anglophone ears, "To be enjoyed with.." on a donut bag sounds strangely more commanding [though still gentle in tone] ! On a bottle of prescription medication, for example, we might see a gentle, but still commanding instruction printed on it: "To be taken twice a day, on an empty stomach". That medicine instruction doesn't have a tone of invitation or fun in it; it's very serious and instructional. – silph Jun 4 '18 at 0:18
  • @PapaPoule If, instead of "à savourer...", the donut bag instead said "savoure ...", how would that change the tone to you? would it seem appropriate, still, for text written on a donut bag? – silph Jun 4 '18 at 0:19
  • 1
    Since "savourer" seems to be a transitive verb, I think "à savourer..." is the best way to make a clear connection with the donuts without having to specify the verb's direct object/pronoun (and risk sounding redundant). Using the imperative "savoure" (or perhaps preferably "savourez") might sound weird without a direct object/pronoun stated (and/or redundant with it stated). Re the "tone," I still don't see the English version as a command, but rather as a suggestion as to how to best enjoy the bag's contents, which is how I see (& would continue to see) either French version. – Papa Poule Jun 4 '18 at 17:14
  • en tout cas c'est du français très correct – je parle de : « À savourer […] ». Mais je m'interroge sur l'analyse grammaticale de : « À ». Quelqu'un peut-il s'exprimer là-dessus ? La notion d'infinitif passif me laisse perplexe, le sens étant : « Vous avez intérêt à les savourer avec […] », ce qui n'est pas vraiment passif. – 5915961T Jan 3 '19 at 21:13

Answers to questions:

1) Correct.

2) and 3) see below:

The Infinitive most often replaces the Imperative Mood in the cases of impersonal commands to an unknown audience, as in warnings, instruction manuals, recipes and official notices. It is used in place of the vous form of the imperative.

Ne pas se pencher au dehors. Do not lean out.

S'adresser au concierge/chauffeur. Apply to the porter/driver.

Mélanger les épices avec de l'eau. Mix the spices with some water.

See here


  • I see that the (non-passive) infinitive can be used instead of the imperative. Here I'm specifically wondering about the passive infinitive, though; and it seems to be that the command to "enjoy this donut with a coffee" somehow feels different than a warning, or an instruction in an instruction manual or recipe? It's almost like an invitation, instead? – silph Jun 3 '18 at 18:24

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