Il va falloir changer la pièce.

Il va falloir changer la pièce.

eel vah faa-lwaar shah-zhay lah peeYESS. Click below to hear this.*

We’re going to have to replace the part.

This could be some pretty annoying news, though it is still better than “it’s irretrievably broken”. But it does provide us with some French-flavored fun.

For starters, changer doesn’t always exactly mean to change. Sometimes it means to exchange, as it does here. That applies to money, too: when you hand over your dollars and get euros back, that transaction is un change.

And then there’s la pièce, which could be a play (theater) or a coin, but here means a part, or a spare part (which is also calledune pièce détachée). If you’re not paying attention, you won’t know whether to exchange currency, rewrite the play, or get the spark plugs replaced. Context is everything!

To say il va falloir (plus a verb in the infinitive, or dictionary, form) is to express the necessity of doing a thing, but not the person who must do it.

English is funny that way; most of the expressions in that category that we use regularly specify who is responsible for accomplishing the task. You must, he needs to, I have to are all examples of such phrases. But French has this very useful verb falloir, which really means to be necessary to. In the present tense, that’s il faut; in the future, il va falloir, it will be necessary to.

So today’s phrase softens the bluntness of the diagnosis: your car, lawn mower, or what-have-you needs a new part, and the service manager is trying to avoid blaming you for letting the problem go too long. Of course that makes you feel much better, and you agree readily to the repair without an argument. Win-win. You get a working appliance, and the mechanic collects his fee. We all go home reasonably happy, even though your wallet is no longer quite so light on its feet. If wallets can be supposed to have feet, of course.

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:



One response to “Il va falloir changer la pièce.

  1. I guess I would have said that my wallet was definitely lighter simply because I removed some of the money to pay the mechanic.

    Another subject: Please forgive my typo re yesterday’s post, where I hit two Zs instead of As. My fingers must need replacing!

    Love, Maman

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