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These sentences come from a grammar textbook 1. (They are in a section where the textbook discusses situations where an infinitive is used as a direct object of the conjugated verb, and where the logical subject of the infinitive is not the same as the logical subject of the main (ie conjugated) verb.) :

Nous avons emmené les enfants faire un tour sur les manèges.
We took the children for a ride on the merry-go-rounds.

J’ai envoyé Paul faire les courses.
I sent Paul to do the shopping.

I'm wondering if these sentences would still be correct (and have the exact same meaning) if I insert the word "pour" just before the infinitive. (This would match more closely the wording used in English) :

Nous avons emmené les enfants pour faire un tour sur les manèges.

J’ai envoyé Paul pour faire les courses.


1. Monique L'Huiller, "Advanced French Grammar", p. 207

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  • We took the children to ride on the merry-go-rounds. Both sentences would have the same to-infinitive structure in English, compared to the French. I don't see the point of inserting a pour. And anyway, the English does not contain "for".
    – Lambie
    Apr 21, 2022 at 14:20

1 Answer 1

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  1. Nous avons emmené les enfants pour faire un tour sur les manèges.

    The sentence is not idiomatic and slightly ambiguous as it can be understood that nous will made this tour with the kids, or even without them. If you want to use pour, better to say: Nous avons emmené les enfants pour qu'ils fassent un tour sur les manèges. Note also that while faire un tour sur les manèges is not impossible, faire des tours de manège is much more common.

  2. J'ai envoyé Paul pour faire les courses.

    Same issues and pour qu'il fasse les courses wouldn't really save the sentence.

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  • 1) With #2, are you saying that #2 is both ambiguous and not idiomatic? Is one of the ambiguous meanings something like maybe I'm the one who is going to "faire les courses"? For example, maybe Paul is my teenage son and he is always needing my attention, so I sent him to his friend's house, so that I could finally have enough time to myself to enable to me to do the shopping? 2) In #2, are you able to articulate why "pour qu'il fasse les courses" can't save the sentence?
    – silph
    Apr 21, 2022 at 7:22
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    1. Both, although envoyé Paul without telling where is unlikely. 2. For the same reason. J'ai envoyé Paul au supermarché pour qu'il fasse les courses would work.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 21, 2022 at 7:33

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