We have already seen the conjugation of some important verbs such as être and avoir. We learned that they don’t follow the usual rules applied to other verbs. There are certain patterns we must follow when conjugating verbs in different tenses. Today, we will focus on how to conjugate French verbs in the simple present tense.
There are two broad categories of verbs in French: regular verbs and irregular verbs. Regular verbs are way easier to use since they follow definite patterns, while in the case of irregular verbs, their conjugation is not that simple. Let’s get started!
Let’s start with regular verbs. But first, how do you distinguish between regular and irregular verbs? It’s quite simple. Look at their endings.
Regular verbs have three different endings: -er, -ir, and -re. An exception is aller (to go) which is an irregular verb. Let’s take a look at some common regular verbs:
|aimer (to love)||acceuillir (to welcome)||attendre (to wait)|
|arriver (to arrive)||accomplir (to accomplish)||dépendre (to depend)|
|chanter (to sing)||agir (to act)||descendre (to descend)|
|chercher (to look for)||choisir (to choose)||entendre (to hear)|
|danser (to dance)||finir (to finish)||fondre (to melt)|
|demander (to ask)||grandir (to grow up)||mordre (to bite)|
|donner (to give)||investir (to invest)||pendre (to hang)|
|habiter (to live)||nourrir (to feed)||perdre (to lose)|
|regarder (to watch)||punir (to punish)||rendre (to give back)|
|rester (to stay)||ralentir (to slow down)||répondre (to answer)|
|travailler (to work)||réussir (to succeed)||vendre (to sell)|
How to Conjugate Regular Verbs
Now that we learned some common regular verbs, we need to learn how to conjugate them. This will vary depending on the ending of the verb. Let’s start with those ending in -er.
Je – e
Tu – es
Il/Elle – e
Nous – ons
Vous – ez
Ils/Elles – ent
Let’s conjugate the verb manger (to eat):
For those verbs ending in -ir, the conjugation is as follows:
Je – is
Tu – is
Il/Elle – it
Nous – issons
Vous – issez
Ils/Elles – issent
Example with finir (to finish):
Finally, for those verbs ending in -re, the conjugation is as follows:
Je – s
Tu – s
Nous – ons
Ils/Elles – ent
Example with entendre (to hear):
Did you notice a pattern in the examples above? When conjugating a verb, we drop -er, -ir, or -re and add a different ending depending on the pronoun preceding it. The only exception is conjugating -re verbs with il/elle. In that case, we just drop -re. Examples: il/elle vend (he/she sells), il/elle comprend (he/she understands), il/elle attend (he/she waits), etc.
As we saw above, most regular verbs end in -er, -ir, or -re. However, there are a few exceptions. Below are some common verbs that don’t follow the rules for regular verbs:
aller (to go)
avoir (to have)
boire (to drink)
connaître (to know, to be familiar with)
devoir (to have to)
dire (to say)
dormir (to sleep)
écrire (to write)
être (to be)
faire (to make, to do)
falloir (to be necessary)
lire (to read)
mettre (to put)
partir (to leave)
pouvoir (to be able to do)
prendre (to take)
savoir (to know)
venir (to come)
voir (to see)
vouloir (to want)
All of the verbs above are irregular. You will have to learn their conjugations since they don’t follow a definite pattern.
How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs
Here is where things get a little complicated. You will have to memorize irregular verbs and their conjugations. There’s no other way. Look at the table below to learn the conjugations of some of the most common irregular verbs:
*Falloir is only conjugated with il. It’s what we call an impersonal verb.
Comparing Regular Verbs to Irregular Verbs
How can you tell them apart? Most of the time, you can rely on the ending. However, as we learned earlier, there are many exceptions to the rule. Your best bet is to memorize the list of irregular verbs. You can check out a comprehensive list of them here.
You can also watch the video below to practice the conjugation and pronunciation of several common verbs. It includes both regular and irregular verbs.
Things start to get interesting, right? We’re barely starting! But don’t fret. Advance one step at a time. It seems like a lot of information to process, but if you study diligently, you will eventually master it.
Verb conjugation can be tricky in French. Regular verbs are quite easy to conjugate since they follow definite patterns. On the other hand, irregular verbs are harder to conjugate. You will have to memorize their conjugation.
There are many exceptions regarding verbs. Most of the time you can rely on their endings, but watch out. There are always exceptions to the rule.
I’d love to read your comments and questions below. Please share if you liked this and found it useful. Au revoir, les amis!
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