On this website, it says that the preposition "en" is usually followed by a noun (and in other cases, it is sometimes placed directly after a verb). I see that in the examples on that page, "en + [noun]" seems to act like an adverb or like an adjective.

However, in an article I'm reading, it says:

En parler permet de démystifier, au contraire de l'indifference, m'explique Chloé, avant d'enchainer sur le concept de la neutralité négative, désignant la discimination en douce, la micro agression.

(I've provided the full sentence, in order to give context, in case the context matters).

WordReference's page for "permet" tells me that "permet" is a conjugated form of permettre.

That means that "En parler" must be a subject!

Questions:

  1. What does "En parler" mean, in this sentence?
  2. In general, what does "en + [infinitive verb]" mean? Are there online webpages that can teach me about this construction?
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In front of an infinitive, en is a pronoun for complements introduced by the preposition de. It's probably what had you confused. Using a demonstrative instead, one could also say “Parler de cela permet de démystifier”. It's the equivalent of the English construction “talking about it”, respectively “talking about this/that”.

  • arg, and now I remember that infinitives can sometimes be subjects. seeing the "en" there in fact did get me confused (and had me think of "en" the preposition), because I still am not sufficiently used to the pronoun "en" appearing just before infinitives! – silph Jun 6 at 18:12
  • @silph Indeed, an entire infinitive clause can be a single subject! Croiser un grand chien agressif tard la nuit quand on est tout seul dans la rue est une expérience un peu choquante. (But for easier parsing, one might say ...dans la rue, c'est une expérience... or even start the sentence C'est une expérience un peu choquante que de croiser... – Luke Sawczak Jun 12 at 10:12

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