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'indifférence, m'explique Chloé, avant d'enchaîner 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!


  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?

1 Answer 1


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
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 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
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 10:12
  • It would be useful to say that as readers, we cannot see what the en actually refers to. Also that the sentence occurs in a dialogue. You wouldn't start a sentence like that unless you knew the referent as in "Parler de cela", That would be what the en can refer to. yes. The specific refers is probably given earlier in the text. No one wanted a tag for spoken French, but yet here it would be very useful.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 19:22
  • @Lambie The OP said it was from an article. I have no clue why you think it's from spoken French. As for the rest of your comment i don't see your point. Indeed, pronouns refer to something. That's what they do. Commented May 8, 2022 at 22:32

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