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Le RAFEO est un programme d'aide financière visant à vous aider à payer vos études au collège ou à l'université.

I want to know why there is an à in visant à.

None of the entries in the wordreference page for [viser][1] is an entry for "visant à". My guess here is visant à vous aider à payer .. means "aiming to help you to pay..".

The relevant entries in wordreference don't have the preposition "à"; the example sentences also do not have the preposition "à":

Simon vise le poste de directeur.
Simon is aiming for the manager's job.

Cette loi ne vise que les étrangers.
This law only targets foreigners.

Questions:
1a) How come there is an à after visant, in "un programme d'aide financière visant à vous aider"?
1b) How could I have found out what visant à means, using a dictionary?
1c) Is "visant pour" allowed here, instead of "visant à", considering that "pour" is the preposition used to mean "for the purpose of.." ("aiming for the purpose of helping you pay..").

3

Your translation is correct.

1a) There's an à because there is indeed an expression viser à [verbe] "aim to do", which is an omission in WordReference.

1b) Unfortunately in this case you'd have to check more than one dictionary and hope that one of them has it. In this case, Reverso does:

viser à         v
avoir pour but de

I realize this is frustrating since it suggests that any time you don't find an entry, you might find it in another dictionary. I think that would be fair to conclude, though I tend to use different dictionaries for slightly different purposes to reduce redundant checks, and your choice made sense for a two-word entry - I'm surprised that WR lacks this expression that Reverso has. I just used their "signal an omission" form to request this entry.

1c) No, not only because (as you now know) viser à is a fixed expression, but also because the construction pour [verbe] is better translated "in order to [verb]". Hence we'd get something like "aiming in order to [verb]", which doesn't work in either language.

On the other hand, you could say, for example, « viser à terminer avant 15h pour vous permettre d'attraper le bus » : aim to finish before 3 p.m. in order to allow you to catch the bus.

  • 1) about the Reverso definition for viser à : it doesn't tell me what follows "viser à". How do you know a verb can follow "viser à", by looking at that entry? Is it that I have to translate the definition correctly ("to have towards the goal of" ??), and then realize that a noun / noun-phrase follows, which could be a noun, or an infinitive verb acting as a noun? 2) But "aiming in order to [verb]" does make sense? "Usually I throw the ball without aiming, but in this high stakes Dodgball tournament, I aim in order to secure a win"? – silph Jun 9 '18 at 21:08
  • 1
    Hmm, it is a little lacking in detail. Doubling back to WR, we find that their « avoir pour but de » also fails to include [faire qqch] or [verbe], but at least the examples both have infinitives. If they hadn't, I guess you could hunt for examples on Linguee! As for "aiming in order to win", agreed, but that's not the same thing as "aiming to win" — the first answers the question "Why are you aiming?" and the second "What are you aiming to do?" – Luke Sawczak Jun 9 '18 at 21:21
  • i had thought that dictionaries are supposed to help me understand how to use the expression i'm looking up -- i was hoping that i wouldnt have to dive into linguee! – silph Jun 9 '18 at 21:25
  • I mean, i didn't even recognize that "avoir pour but de" is an expression -- you can see that I tried to translate it as if it were a normal sentence. but yeah, i guess one thing i'm learning is that if one dictionary doesn't help, try blindly plugging in the phrase that i don't understand into WR or Reverso or linguee, and maybe you'll find something useful..? – silph Jun 9 '18 at 21:27
  • also: if "viser à" was NOT in any dictionary, then I would have to assume that "à + [infinitive verb]" was grouped together? and then use whatever "normal" rules (vs "viser à" giving special rules to à) that i know about, àbout à in general, to figure it out? (indeed, could "[present participle of verb1] + à vous aider à payer ...." ever make sense, in the case that "verb1 à" is NOT an expression (ie, the way "viser à" is)?) – silph Jun 9 '18 at 22:07

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