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The full sentence is "Vous arrive-t-il d’aller visiter des gens à l’hôpital ou préférez-vous éviter cet endroit à tout prix ?"

As per chatgpt, "Vous arrive-t-il" means "do you ever...". It makes sense in this context. But I don't get why there are 2 subject, vous and il. And could it be written as "Arrivez-vous...."?

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    Does it (il) happen to you (vous)?
    – Dominique
    Jan 8 at 9:28

3 Answers 3

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If we remove the interrogation, the expression is: il vous arrive ..., which could translate to something like it happens to you .... So the vous is not a subject but a complement, indicating to whom something is happening.

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    Always a good idea to make the interrogative into indicative declarative when something about the syntax is confusing; that's a big point.
    – livresque
    Jan 7 at 1:01
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But I don't get why there are 2 subject

If you look closely at the grammar rather than at the logic, then il is the grammatical subject of arriver, and vous is not a subject but an indirect object. If you replace pronoun "vous" with someone's name, then the sentence would become:

"Arrive-t-il à Olivier... ?"

With this form, preposition "à" is needed, and it becomes more obvious that "Olivier" is not a grammatical subject, but an indirect object.

However, this use of the verb "arriver" is an idiom; with this idiom, "il" is a dummy subject, and "vous" or "Olivier" is the logical subject. "Il arrive à Olivier de faire quelque chose" translates to "Olivier occasionally does something".

Note the similarity in construction between French "Il arrive à Olivier de..." and English "It happens to Oliver that...". They don't have the same meaning, but they have the same construction with a dummy grammatical subject, and a grammatical indirect object used as logical subject.

As a sidenote: for automated translation, I recommend using a dedicated translation software, rather than ChatGPT. For instance, there is https://www.deepl.com/translator or https://translate.google.com/ . Both are much more suitable for the task than ChatGPT; not only are they much more reliable, but they have a dedicated user interface. They will offer alternative translations, and if you hover your mouse cursor over words of the translation or original text, they provide definitions and more explanations.

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  • thanks for the detail explanation.
    – sleepy
    Jan 27 at 23:10
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As the following words in this form of question is a verb in the infinitive form "TO GO >> de Aller >> d'Aller", the meaning here can be "Does it arrive to you". This translation provide a use of 't-il'. The second form you préoccupe about "Arrivez-vous", cannot be use here. After that, declarative or interrogative sentence are nonsense when you conjugue the verb with the pronoun VOUS. The main verb following vous will change from "A" to "DE " (Arrivez-vous à aller/d'aller visiter des gens ...) but when you whant to say it correctly it is better to use "VOUS" in the beginning of the question ! Like "VOUS ARRIVE T-IL de/ à ..."

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