So im studying Swedish and French. I’ve noticed that sometimes when you have two verbs i.e. for French J’aime jouer, you don’t use “à” as in J’aime à jouer as you do in english: I like to play. However sometimes you use and I have observed this in swedish too. I come from languages like Finnish and Romanian and why not, English where you don’t have to worry about such things. I am just wondering whether it is something important and worry some or if I should just let it sink in with time.
Well, whether you “don’t have to worry” in English is debatable. There’s already a thread about this.
In English you must learn independently about each verb introducing another whether to:
use the second verb as an infinitive with “to”: I want to play
use it as an infinitive without “to” = I must go
use it as a participle: I suggest going to the beach
use infinitive or participle with no change of meaning: I continued to talk/talking
use one or the other with a change of meaning: I stopped to watch the landscape / I stopped watching the landscape
If you’re so used to this that you consider it “obvious” and it doesn’t come to mind as a difficulty, you’ll feel the same about the French case eventually and by doing just the same: namely, getting enough exposure to the language
In French you’ve got three main cases:
a) Some infinitives demand a preposition because they replace nouns which would require that same preposition, this is the “easy” case:
Je l’ai fait pour toi, je l’ai fait pour m’amuser
C’est l’heure de la vengeance, c’est l’heure de manger
 This is equivalent to English preposition + participle/gerund
b) When an infinitive acts as the subject or attribute of a sentence but it doesn’t occur at the beginning of the sentence, you need a “de”
Réussir est difficile → Il est difficile de réussir
Des fois, pleurer fait bon → Des fois, il fait bon de pleurer [in fact, I find the first version (without “de”) a bit awkward]
c) Some infinitives just take an extra “à” or “de” or either with/without change of meaning [edit, or “par”]. You must get used to each one just as you did in English. There’s no way around it. You can find some lists if you want, but it’s mostly a matter of getting used through massive exposure.
Well, in English we also use the gerund in place of the infinitive, so it’s not like people learning the language “don’t have to worry about such things.”
I like to play guitar. I like playing guitar.
which mean the same thing.
There is rarely ever one single way to express, as you put it, “two verbs.”
consider Dutch, for example:
Ik speel graag gitaar. Ik hou van gitaarspelen. Ik vind het leuk om gitaar te spelen.
these all mean the same thing: I like to play guitar.
Surely there is more than one way to say this in French, but I only know of one way:
J’aime jouer de la guitare.
As Steve would say, it’s important to pay attention to the differences.
But I wouldn’t get bogged down in trying to understand why one language uses the equivalent of ‘to’ with some verbs, but not with others. I would just pay attention to the differences as I encounter them.
Yes! We made similar replies at about the same time!
It comes to mind:
Ça me plaît de jouer de la guitare
Ça me fait plaisir de jouer de la guitare
J’adore jouer de la guitare (close to English “I love”)
Je joue volontiers de la guitare (volontiers = German gerne, Dutch graag)
Oh, and then there are the slangish expressions. I’m not very good at speaking French “argot”. My knowledge is mostly passive but I think you may hear (or may have heard, slang ages prettty fast):
Je kiffe jouer de la guitare
Jouer de la guitare c’est mon kif
Je joue volontiers de la guitare. Ik speel graag gitaar.
J’adore jouer de la guitare. Ik hou van gitaarspelen.
Ça me fait plaisir de jouer de la guitare. Ik geniet van gitaarspelen. (Although this last in Dutch is more passive and typically means that you enjoy hearing someone else play guitar, as opposed to playing guitar yourself.)
I think the Dutch expression that is probably closest to the English “I like playing guitar” is “Ik vind het leuk om gitaar te spelen.”
(more literally: I find it nice/ I think it’s nice to play guitar.)
Another expression the Dutch tend to use is “that he/she would do something,” whereas in English we would just say “to do something.”
Ook drong hij er bij Brinkman op aan dat die zijn positie als lijsttrekker zou heroverwegen.
He also urged Brinkman to reconsider his position as party leader.
(literally: He also insisted with Brinkman that he would reconsider his position as party leader. )