French conjugation

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Main article: French verbs

French conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a French verb from its principal parts by inflection. French verbs are conventionally divided into three conjugations (conjugaisons) with the following grouping:

  • 1st group: verbs ending in -er (except aller)
  • 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

The first two groups follow a regular conjugation, whereas the third group follows an irregular one. 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 verb aller is the only verb ending in -er belonging to the third group.

Moods and tenses[edit]

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:

  • Imperative
    • Present[note 1]
    • Past: formed with an auxiliary verb in the present imperative[note 3]
  • Conditional
    • Present[note 1]
    • Past (form 1): formed with an auxiliary verb in the present conditional
    • Past (form 2): formed with an auxiliary verb in the imperfect subjunctive[note 3]
  • Infinitive
    • Present[note 1]
    • Past: formed with an auxiliary verb in the present infinitive
  • Gerund: (constructed by preceding the present participle with the preposition en)

Auxiliary verbs[edit]

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[edit]

This verb has different stems for different tenses. These are imperfect av- /av/; present subjunctive ai- /ɛ/; future and conditional aur- /ɔʁ/; 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 /avɛ/ aurai /ɔʁe/ aie /ɛ/ eusse /ys/ aurais /ɔʁɛ/
tu as /a/ eus /y/ avais /avɛ/ auras /ɔʁa/ aies /ɛ/ eusses /ys/ aurais /ɔʁɛ/ aie* /ɛ/
il/elle a /a/ eut /y/ avait /avɛ/ aura /ɔʁa/ ait /ɛ/ eût /y/ aurait /ɔʁɛ/
nous avons /avɔ̃/ eûmes /ym/ avions /avjɔ̃/ aurons /ɔʁɔ̃/ ayons /ɛjɔ̃/ eussions /ysjɔ̃/ aurions /ɔʁjɔ̃/ ayons* /ɛjɔ̃/
vous avez /ave/ eûtes /yt/ aviez /avje/ aurez /ɔʁe/ ayez /ɛje/ eussiez /ysje/ auriez /ɔʁje/ ayez* /ɛje/
ils/elles ont /ɔ̃/ eurent /yʁ/ avaient /avɛ/ auront /ɔʁɔ̃/ aient /ɛ/ eussent /ys/ auraient /ɔʁɛ/

* Notice that the imperative form uses the subjunctive conjugation.

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: avoir /avwaʁ/
  • Present participle: ayant /ejɑ̃/
  • Gerundive: en ayant /an ejɑ̃/
  • Verbal adjective: ayant(s) /ejɑ̃/, ayante(s) /ejɑ̃t/
  • Past participle: eu(e)(s) /y/

Auxiliary verb: avoir

Être[edit]

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(ə)ʁ/; 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 (/swajɔ̃, 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 /sɥi/ fus /fy/ étais /etɛ/ serai /s(ə)ʁe/ sois /swa/ fusse /fys/ serais /s(ə)ʁɛ/
tu es /ɛ/ fus /fy/ étais /etɛ/ seras /s(ə)ʁa/ sois /swa/ fusses /fys/ serais /s(ə)ʁɛ/ sois* /swa/
il/elle est /ɛ/ fut /fy/ était /etɛ/ sera /s(ə)ʁa/ soit /swa/ fût /fy/ serait /s(ə)ʁɛ/
nous sommes /sɔm/ fûmes /fym/ étions /etjɔ̃/ serons /səʁɔ̃/ soyons /swajɔ̃/ fussions /fysjɔ̃/ serions /səʁjɔ̃/ soyons* /swajɔ̃/
vous êtes /ɛt/ fûtes /fyt/ étiez /etje/ serez /səʁe/ soyez /swaje/ fussiez /fysje/ seriez /səʁje/ soyez* /swaje/
ils/elles sont /sɔ̃/ furent /fyʁ/ étaient /etɛ/ seront /s(ə)ʁɔ̃/ soient /swa/ fussent /fys/ seraient /s(ə)ʁɛ/

* The imperative form uses the subjunctive conjugation.

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

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

Auxiliary verb: avoir

First group verbs (-er verbs)[edit]

French verbs ending in -er, which comprise 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 -Ø, -s, -Ø rather than -s, -s, -t.

Parler[edit]

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 parl-e
/paʁl/
parl-ai
/paʁle/
parl-ais
/paʁlɛ/
parl-erai
/paʁləʁe/
parl-e
/paʁl/
parl-asse
/paʁlas/
parl-erais
/paʁləʁɛ/
tu parl-es
/paʁl/
parl-as
/paʁla/
parl-ais
/paʁlɛ/
parl-eras
/paʁləʁa/
parl-es
/paʁl/
parl-asses
/paʁlas/
parl-erais
/paʁləʁɛ/
parl-e
/paʁl/
il parl-e
/paʁl/
parl-a
/paʁla/
parl-ait
/paʁlɛ/
parl-era
/paʁləʁa/
parl-e
/paʁl/
parl-ât
/paʁlɑ/
parl-erait
/paʁləʁɛ/
nous parl-ons
/paʁlɔ̃/
parl-âmes
/paʁlɑm/
parl-ions
/paʁljɔ̃/
parl-erons
/paʁləʁɔ̃/
parl-ions
/paʁljɔ̃/
parl-assions
/paʁlasjɔ̃/
parl-erions
/paʁləʁjɔ̃/
parl-ons
/paʁlɔ̃/
vous parl-ez
/paʁle/
parl-âtes
/paʁlɑt/
parl-iez
/paʁlje/
parl-erez
/paʁləʁe/
parl-iez
/paʁlje/
parl-assiez
/paʁlasje/
parl-eriez
/paʁləʁje/
parl-ez
/paʁle/
ils parl-ent
/paʁl/
parl-èrent
/paʁlɛːʁ/
parl-aient
/paʁlɛ/
parl-eront
/paʁləʁɔ̃/
parl-ent
/paʁl/
parl-assent
/paʁlas/
parl-eraient
/paʁləʁɛ/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: parl-er /paʁle/
  • Present participle: parl-ant /paʁlɑ̃/
  • Gerundive: en parl-ant /ɑ̃ paʁlɑ̃/
  • Verbal adjective: parl-ant(s) /paʁlɑ̃/, parl-ante(s) /paʁlɑ̃t/
  • Past participle: parl-é(e)(s) /paʁle/

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 or è, in order to link the two words : « Parlé-je ? », /paʁlɛʒ/, "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 ! », [paʁlzɑ̃], "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 /ʒ/ (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)[edit]

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[edit]

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 chois-is
/ʃwazi/
chois-is
/ʃwazi/
chois-issais
/ʃwazisɛ/
chois-irai
/ʃwaziʁe/
chois-isse
/ʃwazis/
chois-isse
/ʃwazis/
chois-irais
/ʃwaziʁɛ/
tu chois-is
/ʃwazi/
chois-is
/ʃwazi/
chois-issais
/ʃwazisɛ/
chois-iras
/ʃwaziʁa/
chois-isses
/ʃwazis/
chois-isses
/ʃwazis/
chois-irais
/ʃwaziʁɛ/
chois-is
/ʃwazi/
il chois-it
/ʃwazi/
chois-it
/ʃwazi/
chois-issait
/ʃwazisɛ/
chois-ira
/ʃwaziʁa/
chois-isse
/ʃwazis/
chois-ît
/ʃwazi/
chois-irait
/ʃwaziʁɛ/
nous chois-issons
/ʃwazisɔ̃/
chois-îmes
/ʃwazim/
chois-issions
/ʃwazisjɔ̃/
chois-irons
/ʃwaziʁɔ̃/
chois-issions
/ʃwazisjɔ̃/
chois-issions
/ʃwazisjɔ̃/
chois-irions
/ʃwaziʁjɔ̃/
chois-issons
/ʃwazisɔ̃/
vous chois-issez
/ʃwazise/
chois-îtes
/ʃwazit/
chois-issiez
/ʃwazisje/
chois-irez
/ʃwaziʁe/
chois-issiez
/ʃwazisje/
chois-issiez
/ʃwazisje/
chois-iriez
/ʃwaziʁje/
chois-issez
/ʃwazise/
ils chois-issent
/ʃwazis/
chois-irent
/ʃwaziʁ/
chois-issaient
/ʃwazisɛ/
chois-iront
/ʃwaziʁɔ̃/
chois-issent
/ʃwazis/
chois-issent
/ʃwazis/
chois-iraient
/ʃwaziʁɛ/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: chois-ir /ʃwaziʁ/
  • Present participle: chois-issant /ʃwazisɑ̃/
  • Gerundive: en chois-issant /ɑ̃ ʃwazisɑ̃/
  • Verbal adjective: chois-issant(s) /ʃwazisɑ̃/, chois-issante(s) /ʃwazisɑ̃t/
  • Past participle: chois-i(e)(s) /ʃwazi/

Auxiliary verb: avoir (partir uses être)

haïr

The verb haïr loses its dieresis in the singular of the simple present tense (the i loses its trema, reflecting the pronunciation of the initial syllable as a single vowel /ɛ/ rather than the hiatus /ai/): je hais, tu hais, il hait but nous haïssons, vous haïssez, ils haïssent /ʒə ɛ, ty ɛ, il ɛ, nu aisɔ̃, vu aise, il ais/. Hais is as usual used for the imperative. In all other forms, the root is /ai/ (imperfect and present & past subjunctive /ais/-, future and conditional /aiʁ/-).

Third group[edit]

First sub-declension: Verbs with seven principal parts[edit]

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 1S+s PAST+s 1P+ais FUT+as 3P+es PAST+sses FUT+ais (same as pres. indic. 3rd. sg. if ends with vowel, else 2nd. sg.)
il 1S+t1 PAST+t 1P+ait FUT+a 3P+e PAST+ˆt FUT+ait
nous 1P+ons PAST+ˆmes 1P+ions FUT+ons 1P+ions PAST+ssions FUT+ions (same as pres. indic. 1st pl.)
vous 1P+ez PAST+ˆtes 1P+iez FUT+ez 1P+iez PAST+ssiez FUT+iez (same as pres. indic. 2nd pl.)
ils 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
ha-ïr "to hate" haïr-ai hai-s haïss-ons haïss-ent haï haï-s The same as a regular -ir verb but in Sing. pres. indic. the diaeresis drops out
vend-re "to sell" vendr-ai vend-s, vend-s, vend1 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.
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"
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 /ʒ(ə) paʁ, dɔʁ, mɑ̃, sɔʁ, sɑ̃, sɛʁ/ dormir "sleep", s'endormir "fall asleep", mentir "lie (tell lies)", sentir "feel", consentir "agree", servir "serve", sortir "go out"
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", offrir "offer", souffrir "suffer"
condui-re "to lead" conduir-ai condui-s conduis-ons conduis-ent conduit conduisi-s All verbs in -uire (except nuire), e.g. construire "build", cuire "cook", détruire "destroy", instruire "instruct", réduire "reduce", produire "produce", traduire "translate", etc.
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"
envoy-er "to send" enverr-ai envoi-e2 envoy-ons2 envoi-ent2 envoyé envoy-ai
voir "to see" verr-ai voi-s voy-ons voi-ent2 vu vi-s revoir "see again"
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 (μ) - mue, mus and mues remain unchanged
émouv-oir "to move, affect" émouvr-ai émeu-s émouv-ons émeuv-ent ému ému-s promouvoir "promote"
pleuv-oir "to rain" pleuvr-a pleu-t (stem pleuv-) (stem pleuv-) plu plu-t Impersonal (3rd-singular only)
asseoir "to sit" assiér-ai; assoir-ai assied-s, assied-s, assied;1 assoi-s assey-ons; assoy-ons assey-ent; assoi-ent assis assi-s Notice that there are two sets of conjugations.
cueill-ir /kœjiʁ/ "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
ven-ir "to come" viendr-ai vien-s ven-ons vienn-ent venu vin-s Note simple past plural vînmes, vîntes, vinrent /vɛ̃m, vɛ̃t, vɛ̃ʁ/ 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
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
écri-re "to write" écrir-ai écri-s écriv-ons écriv-ent écrit écrivi-s décrire "describe", inscrire "inscribe"
ri-re "to laugh" rir-ai ri-s ri-ons ri-ent ri ri-s sourire "smile"
suffi-re "to suffice" suffir-ai suffi-s suffis-ons suffis-ent suffi suffi-s confire "pickle", circoncire "circumcise", frire "fry"
boi-re "to drink" boir-ai boi-s buv-ons boiv-ent bu bu-s
croi-re "to believe" croir-ai croi-s croy-ons2 croi-ent2 cru cru-s
conclu-re "to conclude" conclur-ai conclu-s conclu-ons conclu-ent conclu conclu-s Other verbs in -clure
plai-re "to please" plair-ai plai-s, plai-s, plaît plais-ons plais-ent plu plu-s Note the 3rd sg. plaît
clo-re "to close" clor-ai clo-s, clo-s, clôt clos-ons clos-ent clos (missing) Also missing the imperfect; note the 3rd sg. clôt
prend-re "to take" prendr-ai prend-s, prend-s, prend1 pren-ons prenn-ent pris pri-s comprendre "understand", apprendre "study", reprendre "take again", etc.
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"
naît-re "to be born" naîtr-ai nai-s, nai-s, naît naiss-ons naiss-ent naqui-s Note the 3rd sg. naît
connaît-re "to know" connaîtr-ai connai-s, 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"
mett-re "to put" mettr-ai met-s, met-s, met1 mett-ons mett-ent mis mi-s promettre "promise", permettre "permit", compromettre "compromise, damage", soumettre "submit, subdue", transmettre "transmit"
batt-re "to beat" battr-ai bat-s, bat-s, bat1 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-s, vainc vainqu-ons vainqu-ent vaincu vainqui-s Essentially same as vendre, except for c/qu variation
coud-re "to sew" coudr-ai coud-s, coud-s, coud1 cous-ons cous-ent cousu cousu-s
moud-re "to grind, mill" moudr-ai moud-s, moud-s, moud1 moul-ons moul-ent moulu moulu-s
absoud-re "to absolve" absoudr-ai absou-s absolv-ons absolv-ent absous (missing)

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

2 Alternation of -oi- before consonant or unstressed e, -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 reçoi-s
/ʁəswa/
reçu-s
/ʁəsy/
recev-ais
/ʁəsəvɛ/
recevr-ai
/ʁəsəvʁe/
reçoiv-e
/ʁəswav/
reçu-sse
/ʁəsys/
recevr-ais
/ʁəsəvʁɛ/
tu reçoi-s
/ʁəswa/
reçu-s
/ʁəsy/
recev-ais
/ʁəsəvɛ/
recevr-as
/ʁəsəvʁa/
reçoiv-es
/ʁəswav/
reçu-sses
/ʁəsys/
recevr-ais
/ʁəsəvʁɛ/
reçoi-s
/ʁəswa/
il reçoi-t
/ʁəswa/
reçu-t
/ʁəsy/
recev-ait
/ʁəsəvɛ/
recevr-a
/ʁəsəvʁa/
reçoiv-e
/ʁəswav/
reçû-t
/ʁəsys/
recevr-ait
/ʁəsəvʁɛ/
nous recev-ons
/ʁəsəvɔ̃/
reçû-mes
/ʁəsym/
recev-ions
/ʁəsəvjɔ̃/
recevr-ons
/ʁəsəvʁɔ̃/
recev-ions
/ʁəsəvjɔ̃/
reçu-ssions
/ʁəsysjɔ̃/
recevr-ions
/ʁəsəvʁijɔ̃/
recev-ons
/ʁəsəvɔ̃/
vous recev-ez
/ʁəsəve/
reçû-tes
/ʁəsyt/
recev-iez
/ʁəsəvje/
recevr-ez
/ʁəsəvʁe/
recev-iez
/ʁəsəvje/
reçu-ssiez
/ʁəsysje/
recevr-iez
/ʁəsəvʁije/
recev-ez
/ʁəsəve/
ils reçoiv-ent
/ʁəswav/
reçu-rent
/ʁəsyʁ/
recev-aient
/ʁəsəvɛ/
recevr-ont
/ʁəsəvʁɔ̃/
reçoiv-ent
/ʁəswav/
reçu-ssent
/ʁəsys/
recevr-aient
/ʁəsəvʁɛ/

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[edit]

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 1S+t PAST+t 1P+ait FUT+a SUBJ+e PAST+ˆt FUT+ait
nous 1P+ons PAST+ˆmes 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+ˆtes 1P+iez FUT+ez SUBJ+iez or 1P+iez PAST+ssiez FUT+iez (same as pres. indic. 2nd pl.) or SUBJ+ez
ils 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, 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, 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, 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[edit]

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- /iʁ/. 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 /vɛ/ allai /ale/ allais /alɛ/ irai /iʁe/ aille /aj/ allasse /alas/ irais /iʁɛ/
tu vas /va/ allas allais iras ailles allasses irais va
il/elle va /va/ alla allait ira aille allât irait
nous allons /alɔ̃/ allâmes allions irons allions allassions irions allons
vous allez /ale/ allâtes alliez irez alliez allassiez iriez allez
ils/elles vont /vɔ̃/ allèrent allaient iront aillent allassent iraient

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

Inflectional endings of the three verb groups[edit]

 
1st group 2nd group 3rd group   1st group 2nd group 3rd group
Indicatif (Présent)   Subjonctif (Présent)
je e1 is s (x3) e5   e isse e2.1
tu es is s (x3) es5   es isses es2.1
il e it t (d,c4) e5   e isse e2.3
nous ons issons ons2.1 ons   ions issions ions
vous ez issez ez (es2.2) ez   iez issiez iez
ils ent issent ent (nt2) ent   ent issent ent
   
  Indicatif (Imparfait)   Subjonctif (Imparfait)
je ais issais ais   asse isse6 isse6 usse6
tu ais issais ais   asses isses isses usses
il ait issait ait   ât ît ît ût
nous ions issions ions   assions issions issions ussions
vous iez issiez iez   assiez issiez issiez ussiez
ils aient issaient aient   assent issent issent ussent
   
  Indicatif (Passé simple)   Impératif (Présent)
je ai is is6 us6    
tu as is is us   e is s e5
il a it it ut    
nous âmes îmes îmes ûmes   ons issons ons ons
vous âtes îtes îtes ûtes   ez issez ez ez
ils èrent irent irent urent    
   
  Indicatif (Futur simple)   Conditionnel (Présent)
je erai irai rai   erais irais rais
tu eras iras ras   erais irais rais
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, and is pronounced as an open è [ɛ]. Additionally, the e in je becomes silent. For example: je marche [ʒe maʁʃ] (I walk), marché-je? [maʁʃɛːʒ] (do I walk?)

2. The following verbs have the ending -ont: ils sont (they are), ils ont (they have), ils font (they do), ils vont (they go).

2.1. Only the verb être has irregular endings here: nous sommes (we are), que je soi-s (that I be), que tu soi-s (that you be).

2.2. The following verbs (and their derivatives) have the ending -es: vous êtes (you are), vous faites (you do), vous dites (you tell).

2.3. Only the verbs être and avoir take a final t: que il/elle soi-t (that he/she be), que il/elle ai-t (that he/she have).

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

4. 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.

5. 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).

6. 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[edit]

  • Bescherelle, a type of dictionary of (usually French) verb conjugation

Notes[edit]

  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[edit]

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

External links[edit]