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In the sentence" il me reste des croissants du weekend". Why isn't it " ils me restent...". Is it a set phrase? Thanks

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As you put it, this is a set phrase (une tournure impersonnelle). The personal pronoun "il" does not stand for anything: français facile.

(TLFi) II être encore présent, disponible; subsister
           B. − [En empl. impers., le suj. réel désigne un animé ou un inanimé concr. ou abstr.]

  1. Il reste (+ subst.).
    ♦ Quand les aunes eurent disparu, il restait les souches (Hémon, M. Chapdelaine, 1916, p. 63).
    ♦ L'Europe était alors [au temps de Montesquieu] le meilleur des mondes possibles (...). La science était déjà assez belle, et les arts très délicats; il restait de la religion (Valéry, Variété II, 1929, p. 63).
    ♦ Il reste les autres: les fidèles qui demeurent à mi-côte, qui luttent, succombent, se relèvent (Mauriac, Journal 2, 1937, p. 189).
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    It's misleading to call this a fixed phrase; the rule is entirely generalizable.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Oct 15 '20 at 19:30
  • @LukeSawczak I can't figure out what you apply "entirely generalizable" to; you mean perhaps that you can conjugate these verbs ( "il existe", "il est", "il faut", …). Yes you can do that for those verbs, but those impersonal turns are nevertheless fixed to an important degree, even if we can't see in them perfectly fixed expressions: the subject is only "il", no other pronoun will do, no noun is usable as subject, the meaning is not derived from the words (semantically fixed), for instance.
    – LPH
    Oct 15 '20 at 23:23
  • @LukeSawczak Here is a source that uses this very term as an identifying term for certain impersonal constructions of this sort: bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zwh6tfr/revision/2.
    – LPH
    Oct 15 '20 at 23:24
  • When you said "fixed" I understood it as saying that "il reste" is a fixed expression, whereas this syntax is a general one for many verb types. If you meant that this syntax only works with "il" and no other pronouns, yes, that's true.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Oct 16 '20 at 2:06
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Here, rester is used in an impersonal form.

That means the pronoun il (only third person singular allowed) is just a place holder and doesn't represent anything, like in il pleut (it's raining).

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  • Merci beaucoup de m'aider avec ma première question. Je crois que je me souviens un peu l'utilisatin de cette phrase.
    – Bluelion7
    Oct 13 '20 at 21:30
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As others have already answered, it's an impersonal form. You might like to note a few others which behave in a very similar way:

  • il existe plusieurs solutions (several solutions exist)
  • il suffit de trois semaines pour finir le projet (three weeks is enough to finish the project)
  • il arrive parfois des choses étranges (strange things happen sometimes)
  • il en résulte deux conséquences (there are two consequences of this)
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    A possible translation of "strange things are happening": "il se passe des choses étranges"
    – LPH
    Oct 14 '20 at 17:20

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