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Compound nouns formed with noun + à + verb-infinitive

In English we often simply squash two words together to make a compound noun ("dining room"), whereas in French the two words are always joined by a preposition (à, de, en).

Look at these examples:

une planche à repasser
an ironing board

une machine à laver
a washing machine

une machine à coudre
a sewing machine

une pomme à cuire 
a cooking apple

 

Compound nouns in English formed with -ing + noun are often used to indicate function (e.g. "dining room"). In French, these typically take the form noun + à + verb-infinitive. For example, salle à manger

 

Also have a look at Compound nouns formed with prepositions à, de, en

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Préposition

Phrasal/Prepositional

Examples and resources

une corde à sauter
a skipping rope


une planche à repasser
an ironing board


un fer à repasser
an iron (literally, "an ironing iron")


une machine à coudre
a sewing machine


une pomme à cuire 
a cooking apple


une machine à laver
a washing machine


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