French Conjugation
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French Conjugation

French conjugation refers to the variation in the endings of French verbs (inflections) depending on the person (I, you, we, etc), tense (present, future, etc) and mood (indicative, imperative and subjunctive). Most verbs are regular and can be entirely determined by their infinitive form (ex. parler) however irregular verbs require the knowledge of more than just the infinitive form known as the principal parts of which there are seven in French. With the knowledge of these seven principle parts of a verb one can conjugate almost all French verbs. However, a handful of verbs, including être, are highly irregular and the seven principle parts are not sufficient to conjugate the verb fully.

French verbs are conventionally divided into three conjugations (conjugaisons) with the following grouping:

  • 1st group: verbs ending in -er (except aller, envoyer, and renvoyer).
  • 2nd group: verbs ending in -ir, with the gerund ending in -issant
  • 3rd group: verbs ending in -re (with the exception of irregular verbs).
    • 1st section: verbs ending in -ir, with the gerund ending in -ant
    • 2nd section: verbs ending in -oir.
    • 3rd section: verbs ending in -re
    • aller, envoyer, and renvoyer.

The first two groups follow a regular conjugation, whereas the third group is more complex. The third group is considered a closed-class conjugation form,[1] meaning that most new verbs introduced to the French language are of the first group (téléviser, atomiser, radiographier), with the remaining ones being of the second group (alunir).

The verbs aller, envoyer, and renvoyer are the only verbs ending in -er belonging to the third group.

Moods and tenses

There are seven different moods in French conjugation: indicative (indicatif), subjunctive (subjonctif), conditional (conditionnel), imperative (impératif), infinitive (infinitif), participle (participe), and gerund (gérondif). The infinitive, participle, and gerundive are not verbal moods.

Tenses are described under the mood to which they belong, and they are grouped as follows. Other tenses are constructed through the use of an auxiliary verb:

Auxiliary verbs

There are two auxiliary verbs in French: avoir (to have) and être (to be), used to conjugate compound tenses according to these rules:

Compound tenses are conjugated with an auxiliary followed by the past participle, ex: j'ai fait (I did), je suis tombé (I fell). When être is used, the participle is inflected according to the gender and number of the subject. The participle is inflected with the use of the verb avoir according to the direct object, but only if the direct object precedes the participle, ex:

  • il a marché, elle a marché, nous avons marché (he walked, she walked, we walked)
  • il est tombé, elle est tombée, nous sommes tombés, elles sont tombées (he fell, she fell, we fell, they (fem.) fell)
  • Il a acheté une voiture. Voilà la voiture qu'il a achetée. (He bought a car. Here is the car he bought)

As stand-alone verbs, the conjugation of the two auxiliaries is listed in the table below:

Avoir

This verb has different stems for different tenses. These are imperfect av- /av/; present subjunctive ai- /?/; future and conditional aur- /o?/; simple past and past subjunctive e- (not pronounced: eus, eusse are pronounced as bare inflections /y, ys/). Although the stem changes, the inflections of these tenses are as a regular -oir verb.

In the present, not only are there stem changes, but the inflections are irregular as well:

Avoir "to have"
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
j' ai
/e/
eus
/y/
avais
/av?/
aurai
/o?e/
aie
/?/
eusse
/ys/
aurais
/o/
tu as
/?/
auras
/o/
aies
/?/
eusses
/ys/
aie*
/?/
il/elle/on a
/?/
eut
/y/
avait
/av?/
aura
/o?a/
ait
/?/
eût
/y/
aurait
/o/
nous avons
/av/
eûmes
/ym/
avions
/avj/
aurons
/o/
ayons
/?j/
eussions
/ysj/
aurions
/o?j/
ayons*
/?j/
vous avez
/ave/
eûtes
/yt/
aviez
/avje/
aurez
/o?e/
ayez
/?je/
eussiez
/ysje/
auriez
/o?je/
ayez*
/?je/
ils/elles ont
//
eurent
/y?/
avaient
/av?/
auront
/o/
aient
/?/
eussent
/ys/
auraient
/o/

* Notice that the imperative form uses the subjunctive conjugation.

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: avoir /avwa?/
  • Present participle: ayant /ej/
  • Gerundive: en ayant /n?ej/
  • Verbal adjective: ayant(s) /ej/, ayante(s) /ejt/
  • Past participle: eu(e)(s) /y/

Auxiliary verb: avoir

Être

This verb has different stems for different tenses. These are all pronounced differently: imperfect ét- /et/; present subjunctive soi- /swa/; future and conditional ser- /s/; simple past and past subjunctive in f- /f/. The inflections of these tenses are as a regular -oir verb (that is, as an -re verb but with the vowel u /y/ in the f- forms). For example, subjunctive soyons, soyez is pronounced with the y sound (/swaj, swaje/) of other -re and -oir verbs.

In the simple present, not only are there stem changes, but the inflections are irregular as well:

Être "to be"
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je suis
/s?i/
fus
/fy/
étais
/et?/
serai
/se/
sois
/sw?/
fusse
/fys/
serais
/s/
tu es
/?/
seras
/s/
fusses
/fys/
sois*
/sw?/
il/elle/on est
/?/
fut
/fy/
était
/et?/
sera
/sa/
soit
/swa/
fût
/fy/
serait
/s/
nous sommes
/s?m/
fûmes
/fym/
étions
/etj/
serons
/s?/
soyons
/swaj/
fussions
/fysj/
serions
/sj/
soyons*
/swaj/
vous êtes
/?t/
fûtes
/fyt/
étiez
/etje/
serez
/se/
soyez
/swaje/
fussiez
/fysje/
seriez
/sje/
soyez*
/swaje/
ils/elles sont
/s/
furent
/fy?/
étaient
/et?/
seront
/s?/
soient
/swa/
fussent
/fys/
seraient
/s/

* The imperative form uses the subjunctive conjugation.

The non-finite forms use the stem êt- /?t/ (before a consonant)/ét- /et/ (before a vowel):

  • Infinitive: être
  • Present participle: étant
  • Gerundive: en étant
  • Verbal adjective: étant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: été

Auxiliary verb: avoir

First-group verbs (-er verbs)

French verbs ending in -er, which constitute the largest class, inflect somewhat differently from other verbs. Between the stem and the inflectional endings that are common across most verbs, there may be a vowel, which in the case of the -er verbs is a silent -e- (in the simple present singular), or -ai /e/ (in the past participle and the je form of the simple past), and -a- /a/ (in the rest of simple past singular and in the past subjunctive). In addition, the orthographic -t found in the -ir and -re verbs in the singular of the simple present and past is not found in this conjugation, so that the final consonants are , -s, rather than -s, -s, -t.

Parler

The verb parler "to speak", in French orthography and IPA transcription
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect Simple future Present Imperfect Present Present
je parle
/pa?l/
parlai
/pa?le/
parlais
/pa?l?/
parlerai
/pa?le/
parle
/pa?l/
parlasse
/pa?l?s/
parlerais
/pa?l/
tu parles
/pa?l/
parlas
/pa?l?/
parleras
/pa?l/
parles
/pa?l/
parlasses
/pa?l?s/
parle
/pa?l/
il/elle parle
/pa?l/
parla
/pa?l?/
parlait
/pa?l?/
parlera
/pa?l/
parle
/pa?l/
parlât
/pa?l?/
parlerait
/pa?l/
nous parlons
/pa?l/
parlâmes
/pa?lam/
parlions
/pa?lj/
parlerons
/pa?l?/
parlions
/pa?lj/
parlassions
/pa?l?sj/
parlerions
/pa?lj/
parlons
/pa?l/
vous parlez
/pa?le/
parlâtes
/pa?lat/
parliez
/pa?lje/
parlerez
/pa?le/
parliez
/pa?lje/
parlassiez
/pa?l?sje/
parleriez
/pa?lje/
parlez
/pa?le/
ils/elles parlent
/pa?l/
parlèrent
/pa?l/
parlaient
/pa?l?/
parleront
/pa?l?/
parlent
/pa?l/
parlassent
/pa?l?s/
parleraient
/pa?l/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: parler /pa?le/
  • Present participle: parlant /pa?l/
  • Gerundive: en parlant / pa?l/
  • Verbal adjective: parlant(s) /pa?l/, parlante(s) /pa?lt/
  • Past participle: parlé(e)(s) /pa?le/

Auxiliary verb: avoir (arriver, entrer, monter, passer, rester, rentrer, retourner, and tomber use être)

Exceptional contexts:

  • When the first-person singular present tense form of the indicative or subjunctive is found in inversion, the writer must change the final e to either é (traditional usage) or è (rectified modern usage), in order to link the two words : « Parlè-je ? », /pa?l/, "Am I speaking?" (This is a very rare construction, however.)
  • When the second-person singular form of the imperative is followed by its object y or en, a final s is added: « Parles-en ! », [pa?lz], "Talk about it!"

Exceptional verbs:

  • The verb aller, though it ends in -er is completely irregular and belongs to the third group.
  • In -cer verbs, the c becomes a ç before endings that start with a or o, to indicate that it is still pronounced /s/ (je déplace - nous déplaçons); similarly, in -ger verbs, the g becomes ge before such endings, to indicate that it is pronounced /?/ (je mange - nous mangeons).
  • In -oyer and -uyer verbs, the y becomes an i before endings that start with a silent e (nous envoyons - j'envoie); in -ayer verbs, the writer may or may not change the y to an i before such endings (je paye - je paie). Additionally, the future and conditional forms of envoyer start with enverr- rather than envoyer-; and similarly with renvoyer.
  • In -é.er verbs, the é becomes an è before silent endings, and optionally in the future and conditional tenses.
  • In -e.er verbs other than most -eler and -eter verbs, the e becomes an è before endings that start with a silent e (including the future and conditional endings). For example: peler (to peel) -> je pèle (present) / je pèlerai (futur) / je pèlerais (conditional).
  • In most -eler and -eter verbs, the writer must either change the e to an è before endings that start with a silent e, or change the l or t to ll or tt. In the rest of these verbs, only one or the other form is allowed. For example: appeler (to call) -> j'appelle (present) / j'appellerai (futur) / j'appellerais (conditional).
  • The verbal adjective of following verbs is irregular: adhérer - adhérent(e)(s); coïncider - coïncident(e)(s); confluer - confluent(e)(s); affluer - affluent(e)(s); converger - convergent(e)(s); déterger - détergent(e)(s); différer - différent(e)(s); exceller - excellent(e)(s); diverger - divergent(e)(s); négliger - négligent(e)(s); précéder - précédent(e)(s); violer - violent(e)(s); influer - influent(e)(s); communiquer - communicant(e)(s); suffoquer - suffocant(e)(s); provoquer - provocant(e)(s); naviguer - navigant(e)(s); déléguer - délégant(e)(s); fatiguer - fatigant(e)(s); intriguer - intrigant(e)(s).

Second-group verbs (-ir verbs / gerund ending in -issant)

The -ir verbs differ from the -er verbs in the following points:

  • The vowel of the inflections is always -i-, for example -isse in the past subjunctive rather than the -asse of the -er verbs.
  • A few of the singular inflections themselves change, though this is purely orthographic and does not affect the pronunciation: in the simple present and past, these are -s, -s, -t rather than -Ø, -s, -Ø. (The change in pronunciation is due to the change of vowel from e, ai, a to -i-.)
  • In the simple present, imperfect, the present subjunctive, and the gerund, a suffix -iss- /is/ appears between the root and the inflectional endings. In the simple present singular, this suffix has disappeared and the endings are -is, -is, -it.


choisir

The verb choisir "to choose", in French orthography and IPA transcription
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Simple Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je choisis
/?wazi/
choisissais
/?wazis?/
choisirai
/?wazi?e/
choisisse
/?wazis/
choisirais
/?wazi/
tu choisiras
/?wazi?a/
choisisses
/?wazis/
choisis
/?wazi/
il/elle choisit
/?wazi/
choisissait
/?wazis?/
choisira
/?wazi?a/
choisisse
/?wazis/
choisît
/?wazi/
choisirait
/?wazi/
nous choisissons
/?wazis/
choisîmes
/?wazim/
choisissions
/?wazisj/
choisirons
/?wazi/
choisissions
/?wazisj/
choisirions
/?wazi?j/
choisissons
/?wazis/
vous choisissez
/?wazise/
choisîtes
/?wazit/
choisissiez
/?wazisje/
choisirez
/?wazi?e/
choisissiez
/?wazisje/
choisiriez
/?wazi?je/
choisissez
/?wazise/
ils/elles choisissent
/?wazis/
choisirent
/?wazi?/
choisissaient
/?wazis?/
choisiront
/?wazi/
choisissent
/?wazis/
choisiraient
/?wazi/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: choisir /?wazi?/
  • Present participle: choisissant /?wazis/
  • Gerundive: en choisissant / ?wazis/
  • Verbal adjective: choisissant(s) /?wazis/, choisissante(s) /?wazist/
  • Past participle: choisi(e)(s) /?wazi/

Auxiliary verb: avoir (partir uses être)

Third group

Most verbs of the third group end in -re. A few end in -ir and three end in -er. There are more irregularities in the third group than in the first two.

There is no single pattern that is followed by third group verbs, but rather a number of different paradigms. The verb perdre and its endings are frequently presented as an example for the third group conjugations. See the irregular verb section for more details.

perdre

The verb perdre "to lose", in French orthography and IPA transcription
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Simple Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je perds
/p/
perdis
/pdi/
perdais
/pd?/
perdrai
/pd?e/
perde
/pd/
perdisse
/pdis/
perdrais
/pd/
tu perdras
/pd/
perdes
/pd/
perdisses
/pdis/
perds
/p/
il/elle perd
/p/
perdit
/pdi/
perdait
/pd?/
perdra
/pd/
perde
/pd/
perdît
/pdi/
perdrait
/pd/
nous perdons
/pd/
perdîmes
/pdim/
perdions
/pe?dj/
perdrons
/pd/
perdions
/pdj/
perdissions
/pdisj/
perdrions
/pd?ij/
perdons
/pd/
vous perdez
/pde/
perdîtes
/pe?dit/
perdiez
/pe?dje/
perdrez
/pd?e/
perdiez
/pdje/
perdissiez
/pdisje/
perdriez
/pd?ije/
perdez
/pde/
ils/elles perdent
/pd/
perdirent
/pdi?/
perdaient
/pd?/
perdront
/pd/
perdent
/pd/
perdissent
/pdis/
perdraient
/pd/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: perdre /pd?/
  • Present participle: perdant /pd/
  • Gerundive: en perdant / pd/
  • Verbal adjective: perdant(s) /pd/, perdante(s) /pdt/
  • Past participle: perd-u(e)(s) /pdy/

Auxiliary verb: avoir

Irregular verbs and their paradigms

First sub-conjugation: Verbs with seven principal parts

Most irregular French verbs can be described with seven principal parts. In reality, few if any verbs have separate stems for all seven parts; instead, they tend to "inherit" the same stem as another part. Note that the endings for these verbs are basically the same as for regular -ir verbs; in fact, regular -ir verbs can be fit into this scheme by treating the -iss- variants as different principal parts.

Principal part How to get the stem "Inherited" (regular) value of stem
infinitive Remove ending -er, -ir, -oir, -re --
First singular present indicative Remove ending -s, -e Infinitive stem
First plural present indicative Remove ending -ons Infinitive stem
Third plural present indicative Remove ending -ent First plural present stem
(First singular) future Remove ending -ai Full infinitive stem (minus any -e)
(Masculine singular) past participle Full word Infinitive stem, plus -i (plus -u if ends -re)
(First singular) simple past Remove ending -s, -ai Past participle (minus any -s or -t)

The following table shows how the paradigm of an irregular verb is constructed from its principal parts. Note that a few verbs construct the present indicative (especially the singular) differently.

Paradigm for most irregular verbs (7 principal parts)
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je 1S+s PAST+s 1P+ais FUT+ai 3P+e PAST+sse FUT+ais
tu FUT+as 3P+es PAST+sses (same as pres. indic. 3rd. sg. if ends with vowel, else 2nd. sg.)
il/elle 1S+t1 PAST+t 1P+ait FUT+a 3P+e PAST+^t FUT+ait
nous 1P+ons PAST+^mes 1P+ions FUT+ons 1P+ions PAST+ssions FUT+ions (same as pres. indic. 1st pl.)
vous 1P+ez PAST+^tes 1P+iez FUT+ez 1P+iez PAST+ssiez FUT+iez (same as pres. indic. 2nd pl.)
ils/elles 3P+ent PAST+rent 1P+aient FUT+ont 3P+ent PAST+ssent FUT+aient

1 The -t is regularly dropped when directly following a d or t (e.g. il vend "he sells", not *il vendt).

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: (full infinitive, with suffix)
  • Present participle: 1P-ant
  • Gerundive: en 1P-ant
  • Verbal adjective: 1P-ant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: PP(e)(s)

The following table gives principal parts for a number of irregular verbs. There are a number of fair-sized groups of verbs that are conjugated alike; these are listed first. There are some additional irregularities in the present indicative, which are listed below. Nearly all irregularities affect the singular, and are purely issues of spelling. (Stems that are irregular in the sense of being unpredictable by the above rules are given in boldface.)

Table of principal parts of irregular (and -ir) French verbs (7 principal parts)
INF: Infinitive Meaning FUT: Future Present Indicative PP: Past Participle PAST: Simple Past Notes Similar verbs
1S: 1st Sing (2nd Sing, 3rd Sing) 1P: 1st Plur (2nd Plur) 3P: 3rd Plur
chois-ir "to choose" choisir-ai choisi-s choisiss-ons choisiss-ent choisi choisi-s How a regular -ir verb would be represented by its principal parts About 300 verbs in -ir
haïr "to hate" haïr-ai hai-s / haï-s1 haïss-ons haïss-ent haï haï-s The same as a regular -ir verb but in Sing. pres. indic. the diaeresis drops out
part-ir "to leave" partir-ai par-s part-ons part-ent parti parti-s Sing. pres. indic. stem drops last consonant of basic stem: je pars, dors, mens, sens, sers, sors /?(?) pa?, d, m, s, s, s/ se départir "divest", repartir "leave again", dormir "sleep", s'endormir "fall asleep", se rendormir "fall back asleep", mentir "lie (tell lies)", démentir "contradict", sentir "feel", consentir "agree", pressentir "foresee", ressentir "feel", servir "serve", desservir "clear away", resservir "serve again", sortir "go out", ressortir "come back"
vêt-ir "to dress" vêtir-ai vêt-s, vêt2 vêt-ons vêt-ent vêtu vêti-s The same as partir, except for the past participle dévêtir "undress", revêtir "cover"
requér-ir "to require, demand" requerr-ai requier-s requér-ons requièr-ent requis requi-s
ven-ir "to come" viendr-ai vien-s ven-ons vienn-ent venu vin-s Note simple past plural vînmes, vîntes, vinrent /vm, vt, v/ revenir "return", devenir "become", se souvenir "remember", parvenir "reach", prévenir "tell beforehand"; tenir "hold", retenir "memorize", contretenir "talk", soutenir "sustain", maintenir "maintain", appartenir "belong", etc.
mour-ir "to die" mourr-ai meur-s mour-ons meur-ent mort mouru-s
cour-ir "to run" courr-ai cour-s cour-ons cour-ent couru couru-s
ouvr-ir "to open" ouvrir-ai ouvr-e, ouvr-es, ouvr-e ouvr-ons ouvr-ent ouvert ouvri-s Sing. pres. indic. uses endings -e -es -e, as with -er verbs couvrir "cover", découvrir "discover", offrir "offer", souffrir "suffer"
cueill-ir /koeji?/ "to gather" cueiller-ai cueill-e, cueill-es, cueill-e cueill-ons cueill-ent cueilli cueilli-s Like ouvrir except the future; sing. pres. indic. uses endings -e -es -e, as with -er verbs
asseoir "to sit" assiér-ai; assoir-ai assied-s, assied;2 assoi-s assey-ons; assoy-ons assey-ent; assoi-ent assis assi-s Notice that there are two sets of conjugations.
envoy-er "to send" enverr-ai envoi-e3 envoy-ons3 envoi-ent3 envoyé envoy-ai 1st group verb renvoyer "resend"
voir "to see" verr-ai voi-s voy-ons voi-ent3 vu vi-s revoir "see again"
recev-oir "to receive" recevr-ai reçoi-s recev-ons reçoiv-ent reçu reçu-s Other verbs in -cevoir, e.g. apercevoir "perceive", concevoir "conceive", décevoir "disappoint"
dev-oir "to owe, must" devr-ai doi-s dev-ons doiv-ent du-s Very similar to recevoir, but adds a circumflex to du to distinguish it from the partitive article du - due, dus and dues remain unchanged
mouv-oir "to move" mouvr-ai meu-s mouv-ons meuv-ent mu-s Adds a circumflex to mu to distinguish it from the Greek letter mu (?) - mue, mus and mues remain unchanged
émouv-oir "to move, affect" émouvr-ai émeu-s émouv-ons émeuv-ent ému ému-s promouvoir "promote"
choir "to fall" choir-ai; cherr-ai choi-s choy-ons choi-ent3 chu chu-s Missing the indicative imperfect and the subjunctive mood (except by chût, in singular 3rd person imperfect subjunctive) échoir "befall"
pleuv-oir "to rain" pleuvr-a pleu-t (stem pleuv-) (stem pleuv-) plu plu-t Impersonal (3rd-singular only)
vend-re "to sell" vendr-ai vend-s, vend2 vend-ons vend-ent vendu vendi-s So-called "regular -re" verbs; all end in -dre, but not -indre attendre "wait", défendre "defend", descendre "go down", entendre "hear", étendre "extend", fondre "melt", pendre "hang", perdre "lose", prétendre "pretend", rendre "return, give back", répandre "spill", répondre "respond", etc.
batt-re "to beat" battr-ai bat-s, bat2 batt-ons batt-ent battu batti-s Close to vendre
romp-re "to break" rompr-ai romp-s romp-ons romp-ent rompu rompi-s Very close to vendre
vainc-re "to conquer" vaincr-ai vainc-s, vainc vainqu-ons vainqu-ent vaincu vainqui-s Essentially same as vendre, except for c/qu variation convaincre "convince"
craind-re "to fear" craindr-ai crain-s craign-ons craign-ent craint craign-is All verbs in -aindre, -eindre, -oindre, e.g. contraindre "compel", plaindre "complain"; atteindre "reach", ceindre "gird", empreindre "stamp", éteindre "turn off", étreindre "hug", feindre "pretend", geindre "whine", peindre "paint", restreindre "restrict", teindre "dye"; joindre "join", oindre "anoint", poindre "dawn", rejoindre "rejoin"
condui-re "to lead" conduir-ai condui-s conduis-ons conduis-ent conduit conduisi-s All verbs in -uire e.g. construire "build", cuire "cook", détruire "destroy", instruire "instruct", réduire "reduce", produire "produce", traduire "translate", etc.
trai-re "to milk" trair-ai trai-s tray-ons3 trai-ent3 trai-t tray-ai PS is conjugated as in 1st group verbs. contraire "contract", extraire "extract", soustraire "subtract", retraire "withdraw"
prend-re "to take" prendr-ai prend-s, prend2 pren-ons prenn-ent pris pri-s comprendre "understand", apprendre "study", reprendre "take again", etc.
mett-re "to put" mettr-ai met-s, met2 mett-ons mett-ent mis mi-s promettre "promise", permettre "permit", compromettre "compromise, damage", soumettre "submit, subdue", transmettre "transmit"
écri-re "to write" écrir-ai écri-s écriv-ons écriv-ent écrit écrivi-s décrire "describe", inscrire "inscribe"
boi-re "to drink" boir-ai boi-s buv-ons boiv-ent bu bu-s
di-re "to say, tell" dir-ai di-s dis-ons, dites dis-ent dit di-s Note the 2nd pl. dites contredire "contradict", interdire "forbid"
li-re "to read" lir-ai li-s lis-ons lis-ent lu lu-s
suffi-re "to suffice" suffir-ai suffi-s suffis-ons suffis-ent suffi suffi-s confire "pickle", circoncire "circumcise", frire "fry"
plai-re "to please" plair-ai plai-s, plaît plais-ons plais-ent plu plu-s Note the 3rd sg. plaît
croi-re "to believe" croir-ai croi-s croy-ons3 croi-ent3 cru cru-s
brui-re "to make a low noise" bruir-ai brui-t (stem bruiss-) bruiss-ent brui brui-t Rare outside of third person, conjugated like choisir (regular -ir verbs)
maudi-re "to curse" maudir-ai maudi-t maudiss-ons maudiss-ent maudit maudi-t Very close to bruire
ri-re "to laugh" rir-ai ri-s ri-ons ri-ent ri ri-s sourire "smile"
conclu-re "to conclude" conclur-ai conclu-s conclu-ons conclu-ent conclu conclu-s Other verbs in -clure
viv-re "to live" vivr-ai vi-s viv-ons viv-ent vécu vécu-s revivre "come alive again", survivre "survive"
suiv-re "to follow" suivr-ai sui-s suiv-ons suiv-ent suivi suivi-s poursuivre "pursue"
connaît-re "to know" connaîtr-ai connai-s, connaît connaiss-ons connaiss-ent connu connu-s Note the 3rd sg. connaît reconnaître "recognize", paraître "seem", apparaître "appear", reparaître "reappear", disparaître "disappear"
naît-re "to be born" naîtr-ai nai-s, naît naiss-ons naiss-ent naqui-s Note the 3rd sg. naît
coud-re "to sew" coudr-ai coud-s, coud2 cous-ons cous-ent cousu cousi-s
moud-re "to grind, mill" moudr-ai moud-s, moud2 moul-ons moul-ent moulu moulu-s
résoud-re "to solve, resolve" résoudr-ai résou-s résolv-ons résolv-ent résolu résolu-s
absoud-re "to solve, absolve" absoudr-ai absou-s absolv-ons absolv-ent absous, absoute absolu-s The same as résoudre, except for the past participle. Note the masculine absous and feminine absoute
clo-re "to close" clor-ai clo-s, clôt clos-ons clos-ent clos (missing) Missing the subjunctive and indicative imperfect, as well as the simple past tens. Note the 3rd sg. clôt

1 Only in Quebec French

2 The ending -t is regularly dropped when directly following a d or t (e.g. il vend "he sells", not *il vendt).

3 Alternation of "-ai-" and -oi- before consonant or unstressed e, "-ay-" and -oy- before other vowels is automatic in all verbs.

The following table shows an example paradigm of one of these verbs, recevoir "to receive".

Recevoir "to receive"
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je reçois
/sw?/
reçus
/sy/
recevais
/s?v?/
recevrai
/s?v?e/
reçoive
/swav/
reçusse
/sys/
recevrais
/s?v/
tu recevras
/s?v/
reçoives
/swav/
reçusses
/sys/
reçois
/sw?/
il/elle reçoit
/swa/
reçut
/sy/
recevait
/s?v?/
recevra
/s?v?a/
reçoive
/swav/
reçût
/sy/
recevrait
/s?v/
nous recevons
/s?v/
reçûmes
/sym/
recevions
/s?vj/
recevrons
/s?v/
recevions
/s?vj/
reçussions
/sysj/
recevrions
/s?v?ij/
recevons
/s?v/
vous recevez
/s?ve/
reçûtes
/syt/
receviez
/s?vje/
recevrez
/s?v?e/
receviez
/s?vje/
reçussiez
/sysje/
recevriez
/s?v?ije/
recevez
/s?ve/
ils/elles reçoivent
/swav/
reçurent
/sy?/
recevaient
/s?v?/
recevront
/s?v/
reçoivent
/swav/
reçussent
/sys/
recevraient
/s?v/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: recevoir
  • Present participle: recevant
  • Gerundive: en recevant
  • Verbal adjective: recevant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: reçu(e)(s)

Verbs with eleven principal parts

Nine verbs also have an irregular subjunctive stem, used at least for the singular and third plural of the present subjunctive. These verbs can be said to have 11 principal parts, because the subjunctive stem may or may not be used for the first and second plural present subjunctive, the imperative and/or the present participle, in ways that vary from verb to verb.

The following table shows how the paradigm of an 11-principal-part irregular verb is constructed from its principal parts. Note that these verbs are generally the most irregular verbs in French, and many of them construct the present indicative (especially the singular) in an idiosyncratic fashion. The verb aller also constructs its past participle and simple past differently, according to the endings for -er verbs.

Paradigm for the highly irregular verbs (11 principal parts)
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je 1S+s PAST+s 1P+ais FUT+ai SUBJ+e PAST+sse FUT+ais
tu 1S+s PAST+s 1P+ais FUT+as SUBJ+es PAST+sses FUT+ais (same as pres. indic. 2nd. sg.; but use 3rd. sg. if ends with vowel) or SUBJ+e
il/elle 1S+t PAST+t 1P+ait FUT+a SUBJ+e PAST+^t FUT+ait
nous 1P+ons PAST+^mes 1P+ions FUT+ons SUBJ+ions or 1P+ions PAST+ssions FUT+ions (same as pres. indic. 1st pl.) or SUBJ+ons
vous 1P+ez PAST+^tes 1P+iez FUT+ez SUBJ+iez or 1P+iez PAST+ssiez FUT+iez (same as pres. indic. 2nd pl.) or SUBJ+ez
ils/elles 3P+ent PAST+rent 1P+aient FUT+ont SUBJ+ent PAST+ssent FUT+aient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: (full infinitive, with suffix)
  • Present participle: 1P-ant or SUBJ-ant
  • Gerundive: en 1P-ant or en SUBJ-ant
  • Verbal adjective: 1P-ant(e)(s) or SUBJ-ant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: PP(e)(s)

The following table gives the principal parts for the 11-principal-part verbs. (Stems that are irregular in the sense of being unpredictable by the above rules are given in boldface.)

Table of principal parts of the highly irregular French verbs (11 principal parts)
INF: Infinitive Meaning FUT: Future Present Indicative Present Subjunctive Imperative Present Participle PP: Past Participle PAST: Simple Past Notes Similar verbs
1S: 1st Sing (2nd Sing, 3rd Sing) 1P: 1st Plur (2nd Plur) 3P: 3rd Plur SUBJ:1st Sing 1st Plur
pouv-oir "to be able" pourr-ai peux/puis, peux, peut pouv-ons peuv-ent puiss-e follows subj. (puiss-ions) follows indic. follows 1P (pouv-ant) pu pu-s (reg.) alternate 1st sing. puis required in questions, use elsewhere is mannered; note that old pres. part. puiss-ant is attested as an adjective "powerful"
sav-oir "to know" saur-ai sai-s sav-ons sav-ent sach-e follows subj. (sach-ions) follows subj. (sache, sachons, sachez) follows subj. (sach-ant) su su-s
voul-oir "to want" voudr-ai veux, veut voul-ons veul-ent veuill-e follows indic. (voul-ions) follows subj. (veuille, veuillons, veuillez) follows 1P (voul-ant) voulu voulu-s
val-oir "to be worth" vaudr-ai vaux, vaut val-ons val-ent vaill-e follows indic. (val-ions) follows indic. (vaux, valons, valez) follows 1P (val-ant) valu valu-s
fall-oir "to be necessary" faudr-a fau-t (stem fall-) - faill-e - - - fall-u fallu-t Impersonal (3rd-singular only)
fai-re "to do" fer-ai fai-s fais-ons, faites font fass-e follows subj. (fass-ions) follows indic. follows 1P (fais-ant) fait fi-s 2nd pl. pres. indic. faites (also in imperative) défaire, refaire, satisfaire
av-oir "to have" aur-ai ai, as, a av-ons ont ai-e, ai-es, ai-t; ai-ent ay-ons, ay-ez follows subj. (aie, ayons, ayez) follows subj. (ay-ant) eu /y/ eu-s
êt-re "to be" ser-ai suis, es, est sommes, êtes; stem ét- sont soi-s, soi-s, soi-t; soi-ent soy-ons, soy-ez follows subj. (sois, soyons, soyez) follows 1P (ét-ant) été fu-s
all-er "to go" ir-ai vais/vas1, vas, va all-ons vont aill-e follows indic. (all-ions) follows indic. follows 1P (all-ant) allé all-ai 2nd. sg. imperat. va, but vas-y "go there" s'en aller "leave"

Aller

The verb aller means "to go" and is sufficiently irregular that it merits listing its conjugation in full. It is the only verb with the first group ending "er" to have an irregular conjugation. It belongs to none of the three sections of the third group, and is often categorized on its own. The verb has different stems for different tenses. These are all pronounced differently: past all- /al/ (simple past, imperfect, past subjunctive); present subjunctive aill- /aj/; conditional and future ir- /i?/. The inflections of these tenses are completely regular, and pronounced as in any other -er verb. However, in the simple present, not only are there stem changes, but the inflections are irregular as well:

Aller "to go"
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je vais, vas1
/v?/, /v?/1
allai
/ale/
allais
/al?/
irai
/i?e/
aille
/aj/
allasse
/alas/
irais
/i/
tu vas
/v?/
allas
/al?/
iras
/i/
ailles
/aj/
allasses
/alas/
va
/va/
il/elle/on va
/va/
alla
/ala/
allait
/al?/
ira
/i?a/
aille
/aj/
allât
/al?/
irait
/i/
nous allons
/al/
allâmes
/al?m/
allions
/alj/
irons
/i/
allions
/alj/
allassions
/alasj/
irions
/i?j/
allons
/al/
vous allez
/ale/
allâtes
/al?t/
alliez
/alje/
irez
/i?e/
alliez
/alje/
allassiez
/alasje/
iriez
/i?je/
allez
/ale/
ils/elles vont
/v/
allèrent
/al/
allaient
/al?/
iront
/i/
aillent
/aj/
allassent
/alas/
iraient
/i/

The non-finite forms are all based on all- /al/:

  • Infinitive: aller
  • Present participle: allant
  • Gerundive: en allant
  • Verbal adjective: allant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: allé(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: être

1 In Classical French and even in certain dialects (like in Cajun and some Quebec dialects) je vas is used.

Inflectional endings of the three verb groups

 
1st group 2nd group 3rd group   1st group 2nd group 3rd group
Indicatif (Présent)   Subjonctif (Présent)
je e1 is s (x)2 e3   e isse e
tu es es3   es isses es
il e it t (d) e3   e isse e
nous ons issons ons ons   ions issions ions
vous ez issez ez ez   iez issiez iez
ils ent issent ent ent   ent issent ent
   
  Indicatif (Imparfait)   Subjonctif (Imparfait)
je ais issais ais   asse isse isse4 usse
tu asses isses isses4 usses
il ait issait ait   ât ît ît4 ût
nous ions issions ions   assions issions issions4 ussions
vous iez issiez iez   assiez issiez issiez4 ussiez
ils aient issaient aient   assent issent issent4 ussent
   
  Indicatif (Passé simple)   Impératif (Présent)
je ai is is4 us    
tu as   e is s e3
il a it it4 ut    
nous âmes îmes îmes4 ûmes   ons issons ons ons
vous âtes îtes îtes4 ûtes   ez issez ez ez
ils èrent irent irent4 urent    
   
  Indicatif (Futur simple)   Conditionnel (Présent)
je erai irai rai   erais irais rais
tu eras iras ras
il era ira ra   erait irait rait
nous erons irons rons   erions irions rions
vous erez irez rez   eriez iriez riez
ils eront iront ront   eraient iraient raient

1. In an interrogative sentence, the final e is written é (traditional spelling) or è (rectified spelling), and is pronounced as an open è [?]. Additionally, the e in je becomes silent. For example: je marche /.ma/ (I walk), marchè-je? /ma?/ (do I walk?)

2. Only in je/tu peux (I/you can), je/tu veux (I/you want), and je/tu vaux (I am/you are 'worth').

. Verbs in -dre have a final d for the 3rd singular person, except for those ending in -indre and -soudre which take a final t. The verbs vaincre (defeat) and convaincre (convince) are conjugated as vainc and convainc, respectively, in 3rd singular person.

3. The only verbs having this ending are: assaillir (assail), couvrir (cover), cueillir (pluck), défaillir (default), offrir (offer), ouvrir (open), souffrir (suffer), tressaillir (shiver), and in the imperative only, avoir (have), savoir (know), and vouloir (want).

4. Except for je vins (I came), je tins (I held), etc..., que je vinsse (that I come), que je tinsse (that I hold), etc...

See also

  • Bescherelle, a reference book for (usually French) verb conjugation

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k A simple form
  2. ^ a b c d Conventionally used only in written language (especially in literature) or in extremely formal speech.
  3. ^ a b Very rarely used in contemporary French

References

  1. ^ Le nouveau Bescherelle: L'art de conjuguer, 1972, pp. 10
  • Larousse de la conjugaison, 1980.

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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