Talk:French conjugation

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Article not very accessable[edit]

Can someone state the audience this article is written for? It flies off into the deep end and only gets deeper. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:58, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

External Link Addition[edit]

I'd like to add a link to the verb conjugation trainer and quiz at Online French Help Does anyone see a problem with that?

Perhaps structure by tense, rather than verb type?[edit]

For the most part, most of the verb forms follow rather predictable patterns; for example, given the first-person plural of the present indicative, one can nearly always determine all forms of the imperfect indicative. (The only exceptions are être, -cer and -ger verbs, and verbs that lack one form or the other.) I think it might be helpful to explain these patterns when they exist, because otherwise we're essentially giving no information about irregular and stem-changing verbs. (I'd just like to hear another opinion before I go ahead and destroy all the tables that people worked to create.) - Ruakh 16:39, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

There's a fairly comprehensive article at Morphology of the French verb which was translated from the French Wikipedia one. How does that compare? —Blotwell 04:08, 20 September 2005 (UTC)
Morphology of the French verb is very comprehensive, but it's rather poorly written. (Well, that's not quite accurate; I don't think anyone wrote it poorly. Rather, the French Wikipedia has a very different style from the English one, largely due to a difference between Francophone and Anglophone cultures, and this difference in style carries through in the translation.) It needs to be changed in a lot of ways to be consistent with the style of the English Wikipedia; also, it has some information that does constitute verb conjugation but does not actually constitute verb morphology (i.e., the information about auxiliary verbs). And then, some parts of it are simply inaccurate; for example, the vast majority of intransitive verbs use avoir, not être, as their auxiliaries.
Relatedly, I think French verb conjugation is a better name than Morphology of the French verb, simply because all the other articles about French-language topics have names starting with the word "French"; so if anything, I think the latter should be merged here. Ruakh 04:32, 20 September 2005 (UTC)
No one ever replied to this comment; if no one objects in the next few days, I'm going to make this change. Ruakh 16:40, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Could we rename this page "French conjugation tables"? Because normally I would expect "French conjugation" and "French verb morphology" to refer to the same article. As it happens, French verb morphology is currently also mis-named (see that article's talk page). CapnPrep 09:54, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

The thing is, this article shouldn't be just a bunch of French conjugation tables, as this is an encyclopedia, and a collection of French conjugation tables is not at all encyclopedic. Ruakh 12:18, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
The table approach makes sense for premier and deuxième groupe verbs, which are fully regular (in some sense) so I think this part of the page can be salvaged, with editing. Your "tense"-based organization will help to make sense of the subregularities in the troisième groupe and is certainly a better idea than just reproducing 70 tables or whatever it is. But even then, a small number of example tables wouldn't hurt, to illustrate the results. CapnPrep 16:17, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Congratulations! I'm French and everything is true! Thanks too! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 11:46, 25 June 2007 (UTC).


I'm adding summaries of the different conjugations along with their pronunciations. I'm sure I've overlooked a few differences, for example in the -oir verbs, which I haven't added yet. I'll get to that in a day or so. kwami (talk) 23:44, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

It's looking good so far. Though I wonder, after seeing your recent edit to the être section if, for example, serai should be represented as /səʀe/ or as /s(ə)ʀe/. The former seems to imply that the schwa is extra short or epinthetic while the latter implies that the schwa is either optional, has variable presence depending on dialect, or is somehow eliminated in certain contexts. My crude understanding of French points towards the latter interpretations. I also highly doubt that French makes a phonemic contrast between an extra short and non-short schwa. Is there a justification for the superscript schwa? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 08:54, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
AFAIK it is influenced by dialect and register, but is also epenthetic. (Where the schwas are placed depends on dialect/register, but in some positions they are required by just about everyone.) It's also easier to read. I wouldn't care if someone changed it, though. kwami (talk) 09:37, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
I'll go ahead and change it, then. My French-English dictionary represents such "deletable" schwas with a perenthesis so that petit is /p(ə)ti/ but peton is /pətɔ̃/. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:21, 23 August 2008 (UTC)


I just got my rating of this article as a Stub reversed, and I want do lay down my reasons for having rated it like that. As a linguist, my interest pertains to the language system. But the only information this article provides me with is about individual items that are neither related to the language system as a whole (by the text of the article) nor explained with regard to their coming into being. Neither are irregularities related to frequency of occurence. So there is virtually no relevant information at all, nothing that would provide a reader with general information about the properties of the French conjugation. She can get every detail she wants, granted, but such details must either be interpreted in the context of typological knowledge that only a linguist has, or it remains mere unconnected, worthless data. I can't see any way in which this article fulfills Start Class criteria. G Purevdorj (talk) 12:42, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

I understand the problems you have with the article but none of that makes it a stub. Per WP:STUB:

A stub is an article containing only a few sentences of text which is too short to provide encyclopedic coverage of a subject...Sizable articles are usually not considered stubs, even if they lack wikification or copy editing. With these articles, a cleanup template is usually added instead of a stub template

I'm not proficient in the qualifications for an article's class or rating, so I can't help you with what the class should be, but I'm sure that it isn't a stub. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 23:48, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
There is a second definition of Stub as contained in the Wikipedia:Version_1.0_Editorial_Team/Assessment#Quality_scale
"The article is either a very short article or a rough collection of information that will need much work to become a meaningful article. It is usually very short, but can be of any length if the material is irrelevant or incomprehensible."
According to this definition, this article would qualify as a stub. And as this is the definition that pertains to rating, I would understand that it is more applicable than the definition you cited which pertains to the creation of (ideally useful) stubs. I don't mind leaving this one article unrated, there are 1500 unrated articles left that are covered by the language project (and there are 650 articles I've already rated, yeah). If you don't agree that the definition I just cited should be applied here, I simply won't rate it. G Purevdorj (talk) 00:03, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Go ahead and give it whatever rating is most likely to attract people to come work on the article; I'm not sure there's much at stake here. It would be more helpful, instead of broadly complaining that the current article is "worthless" and contains "virtually no relevant information at all" (I do see your point as a linguist, but what a way to alienate the editors that have already contributed to this article), to list some specific questions that you would like to see addressed and point to similar articles that you think would be good models for the development of this one. CapnPrep (talk) 00:33, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
I see I was misguided in my understanding of what a stub class means. Because "stub" is also used for a category of articles, I was under the impression that marking an article stub class was the same as tagging the article with a stub template. While there's a bit of overlap, I can see that this could very well be the case of a longish stub-class article. I could make a case for this being start class but that would probably be rooted in stubbornness more than honest assessment and I like CapnPrep's proposed criterion here. Let's get some editors to fix this b*tch up by marking it as stub. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 08:30, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Yep, some suggestions for improvement may be due. One article that does it better is Latin conjugation. It addresses some synchronic regularities and, moreover, meaning. It’s lacking diachronic explanations, however. I’ve rated it C-Class. The article on French conjugation looks more like the article on Ancient Greek grammar (tables) which is a List class article only used as a supplement to Ancient Greek grammar. Ancient Greek grammar as a whole lacks a lot of content, but the part on Ancient_Greek_grammar#Verbs#Aorist_tense contains a useful diachronic explanation. If French conjugation had such information in addition to what Latin conjugation has, it would qualify for Good Article. G Purevdorj (talk) 09:22, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Structure and Content problems[edit]

This article needs some serious editing, and not wanting to criticize without offering any suggestions, here's my two cents:


  • In French, verbs are not described based on their endings (it's rather a sub-description), but they are divided into groups and sections, as follows:
    • 1st group (verbs ending in -er)
    • 2nd group (verbs ending in -ir / gerund ending in -issant)
    • 3rd group
      • 1st section (verbs ending in -ir / gerund ending in -ant)
      • 2nd section (verbs ending in -oir)
      • 3rd section (verbs ending in -re)

  • To give more information about the frequency of occurrence of each group (question asked in a previous paragraph), here are a few notes:
    • The first two groups are considered 'regular', meaning the verb morphology changes, for each group, in one predictable manner.
    • The third group is considered 'irregular', as it contains the largest number of exceptions and irregularities.
    • The third group, with its 350 or so verbs, is considered a 'dead' conjugation form, meaning:
    • Most new verbs introduced to French are of the first group, ex: téléviser, atomiser, radiographier,...
    • The third group also includes the verb aller (to go), the only verb ending in -er belonging to the third group.

  • In its current form, the article sandwiches the verb être (to be) between some other two verbs, and that is completely misleading, and here's why:

The verbs être (to be) and avoir (to have) are the only verbs considered auxiliary, and they're used to form the compound tenses. So, They need to have a heading of their own, under which we should add to their conjugation the reasons why are verbs conjugated with either être or avoir for the compound tenses. But if we do include that section, we would have to link to or include the definiton of transitive, intrasitive, and pronominal verbs, concepts that are necessary for such information.


  • The verbs included as examples of conjugation shouldn't be so arbitrary (especially the few last ones.) Instead, we would choose one example each for the first two groups, and one for each section of the third group. Additionally, we would add the 2 auxiliaries and the verb aller as it's a notable exception.
  • The conjugation tables in here are restricted to the simple forms, and I don't see any logical reason behind this. As this article is about French conjugation, we should include all conjugated forms available. Since this is an encyclopedic entry, why give partial information for one subject? To make myself more clear, I'll list how the tables are formed in the "Bescherelle" book, the quintessential conjugation book that French-language students are taught with. (I'm including an example with this too.)
    • Indicative (indicatif)
      • Present (Présent) je vais
      • Present Perfect (Passé composé) je suis allé
      • Imperfect (Imparfait) j'allais
      • Past Imperfect (Plus-que-parfait) j'étais allé
      • Simple Past (Passé simple) j'allai
      • Past Perfect (Passé antérieur) je fus allé
      • Simple Future (futur simple) j'irai
      • Future Perfect (futur antérieur) je serai allé
    • Subjonctive (Subjonctif)
      • Present (Présent) que j'aille
      • Past (Passé) que je sois allé
      • Imperfect (Imparfait) que j'allasse
      • Past Imperfect (Plus-que-parfait) que je fusse allé
    • Imperative (Impératif)
      • Present (Présent) va
      • Past (Passé) sois allé
    • Conditional (Conditionnel)
      • Present (Présent) j'irais
      • Past (form I) (Passé 1ere forme) je serais allé
      • Past (form II) (Passé 2eme forme) je fusse allé
    • Infinitive (Infinitif)
      • Present (Présent) aller
      • Past (Passé) être allé
    • Participle (Participe)
      • Present (Présent) allant
      • Past (Passé) allé / étant allé

I'm hoping someone will add comments, critiques, or suggestions to this entry, because seriously, this article needs work. Fadibk (talk) 17:47, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

update: I'm restructuring the article based on the suggestions stated above. Fadibk (talk) 21:01, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

It is too bad your examples were omitted. It would be good for someone to rework the moods and tenses section as a table. Links also need to be added. --seberle (talk) 16:54, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Removed content[edit]

Good to see some attention being devoted to this article. I think it is time to consider the division of labor between French conjugation and French verb morphology, because they are starting to overlap again.

Also, I have removed the following statements from the article because they are incorrect, or don't make sense to me.

  • Auxiliary verbs: When the verb is qualified, avoir is used to express the action, ex: il a cassé l'assiette (he broke the plate), and when it's not qualified, être is used to express the result of this action, ex: l'assiette est cassée (the plate is broken).
(I don't see any qualifiers/modifiers here.)
  • Avoir: There is one slight irregularity: in subjunctive ayons, ayez, the /ɛ/ is raised to /e/ due to assimilation with the following y sound (/ejɔ̃, eje/; the same occurs with the gerund ayant).
(There is no rule of assimilation to [j], and the Petit Robert gives the pronunciation [ɛj-], e.g. in ayant droit. Some speakers may have vowel harmony effects in ayez and ayons, but this is not specific to avoir, and there is no need to go into so much detail here.)
  • Être: (The extra i sound in the conditional nous and vous forms of many -re and -oir verbs (such as devrions /dəvʀijɔ̃/) is due to a consonant cluster; in être, like other -re and -oir verbs with stems that end in a vowel in the conditional, such as boire "to drink", this does not occur (serions /səʀjɔ̃/, boirions /bwaʀjɔ̃/.)
(This shouldn't be here, but unfortunately glide formation is not adequately discussed in French phonology. Diaresis is not limited to -re and -oir verbs, or to the conditionnel, or to nous/vous forms, or to verbs: cf. trier, nous trions, triant; triage.)
  • couvrir, offrir, ouvrir, souffrir :This reflects the fact that the final -r- of the root is always pronounced.
(I don't understand this, and it doesn't explain why the consonantal endings are not used, cf. appauvrir, j'appauvris.)

CapnPrep (talk) 14:05, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Regarding the first point, perhaps I translated it imprecisely, as the concept of qualifiers doesn't completely apply to French (Some adjectives are not qualifiers, so go figure). What I meant is that if a verb is followed by a mention particulière or un signe (Bescherelle), in this case a predicative nominative (most likely a complément d'objet direct), the verb is conjugated with avoir instead of être.

For example: Il est descendu en bas and il a descendu les livres en bas. Also, il a divorcé sa femme and il est divorcé. In the first example pair, the C.O.D. modified the verb (function, not meaning) so as to change its conjugation. In the second pair, the first sentence expresses an action, whereas the second one expresses the result of this action. Fadibk (talk) 00:22, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Pronunciation/liaison forms[edit]

As the article says, some of the differences between some of the forms are purely orthographic, i.e. not pronounced (je choisis vs. il choisit). However, don't some of these differences become relevant to the pronunciation if there's a liaison with a following vowel-initial word? If so, then it would be valuable to work towards a description of the endings which notes their pronunciation in liaison contexts. Maybe one could add the consonants pronounced in liason to the IPA transcriptions, highlighting them with bold type or something, with a note explaining that they only surface when there's a liaison. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:15, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

(It is of course too late to answer this question, but it might useful to someone else). The problem you're talking about is actually not one, since it is never going to happen. Typically, liaison in French only occurs inside a noun phrase (e.g. a noun and its adjective), a verb phrase (e.g. a verb and its auxiliary), etc. Since choisis for example would have to be the last word of a verb phrase, it cannot be involved in a liaison.
I hope what I wrote was understandable, I'm still not very comfortable with writing such things in English, and I hope I answered the question. AurélieM Hi! 23:42, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Your English is perfect, AurélieM. And it is true that in the case of choisis, the final s is never pronounced. But the ending of choisit is pronounced in the inversion choisit-il. Furthermore, the final s may sometimes be pronounced for other verbs, such as vas-y. This may be the kind of distinction the previous person was talking about. Unfortunately rules for when a final consonant may or may not be pronounced are extraordinarily complex (whole books have been written on it), so it's hard to see what might be done that would not be confusing. I don't think bolding a final consonant would be quickly understood by most. Perhaps parentheses? But this is an encyclopedia, so it should reflect standard practice. Do standard reference works ever attempt this? --seberle (talk) 20:25, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Actually, now that I think about it, even the final s in choisis would be pronounced in choisis-en, but I can't think of an example for je choisis, which is the example given. --seberle (talk) 20:29, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Verbs ending in -eler, -eter[edit]

The article reads, "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 which verbs is there really a choice of spellings? Is this really the majority of -eter and -eler verbs? I can't think of any such verbs where there is a choice of spelling, though I'm sure there are probably a few somewhere. But "most"? Am I misunderstanding this paragraph? Or just overlooking a large class of verbs? --seberle (talk) 15:30, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Following the 1990 spelling reform, most of these verbs do now have two possible forms (see Reforms_of_French_orthography#Schwa_changing_into_open_e). But this paragraph could definitely use some rewriting. CapnPrep (talk) 16:22, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing these reforms out to me. I was not aware of most of them. Some of these 1990 "reforms" look like what everyone had been doing anyway. Others, such as hyphens in numerals, seem to be ignored so far (e.g. the Internet) and are not being currently taught in French schools. I'll have to find out more about them. In any case, your link says that the new rule is that "most" verbs should now use è instead of doubling the l or t, with the exception of appeler and jeter. I do not understand the reform as saying there are now two forms. Do you mean we are in a period of transition for most verbs with an older double consonant spelling and a newer è spelling? --seberle (talk) 19:02, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, this is explained later in the same article. Since, as you noticed, these reforms are not being taught in France, the period of transition will last a very long time. CapnPrep (talk) 21:00, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
The spelling reforms of the 90s can be ignored. No french speaking country uses them. We're still being taught Il s'est mû here in Switzerland. --Île flottɑnte~Floɑting islɑnd Talk 14:30, 2 December 2009 (UTC)


N. Scarlyn Wilson of (author of the original version of Teach Yourself French) proposed a somewhat different model for conjugating verbs. He proposed an additional regular conjugation for verbs ending in -EVOIR, arguing that seven verbs with that infinitive ending (recevoir, devoir, etc.), all follow identical patterns. He also proposed that verbs ending in -RE should be considered a conjugation in their own right, with irregular verbs (of all endings) left outside the conjugation system. I know his model never really caught on and was never endorsed by any "official" authority, but should it perhaps be mentioned as a minority/alternative view? David Cannon (talk) 10:33, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

This exact system is what I have been taught for my entire life! I was about to create a new section, but your comment hit the nail on the head for me. I have always been taught that -re verbs are a class in their own right, and that their proper endings are s, s, -, ons, ez, ent. I have heard this from every French teacher I have had, and it appears in Larousse's French-English/English-French dictionary. That dictionary says that -oir is a separate category, and gives recevoir as regular, but it still includes devoir as irregular. This article is completely wrong about those respects, in my mind. In addition, where is envoyer? Should that not be in the third group, seeing as its stem for the future and conditional is irregular? Interchangeable|talk to me|what I've changed 20:06, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

All of them?[edit]

How can we hope to list every third-group verb on this page? There are far too many to list, and of course we want to restrict the page to a manageable size. This page requires a lot of cleaning (consistency, sources, etc.) but we just need to restructure it now. I put in an exhaustive effort today and added a table on craindre, but it's going to take a lot more than that to get this page off the ground. Interchangeable|talk to me 23:12, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Well, in facts I don't think that the Wikipedia has to look like a Bescherelle. If verbs have to be cited in a good way, I suggest the style of the Académie Française's dictionnary, which describes verbs in on or two lines. HTH, Papatt (talk) 12:03, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
P.S.: I don't see a logic in the order of the third group verbs. Is there one? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Papatt (talkcontribs) 12:26, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Apparently not. Plus, there's a merger up for grabs, and somebody created a very confusing (but comprehensive) guide to the third group. Interchangeable|talk to me 21:07, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
I really think it would be easier for the reader to understand if we structured it the way that I learned: give regular -re verbs their own category and leave irregular verbs outside the conjugation category, with separate notes on them (the existing table would do nicely, but I don't like to have the regular -re verbs in that table. Interchangeable|talk to me 22:19, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that -re verbs cannot be a good category since many verbs with this ending have many different conjugations : faire, battre, tendre, etc.
I only see common points within verbs ending with -endre (tendre, fendre, vendre, ... and relatives) but I'm quite sure that if I sleep over it I'll find exceptions (got one : prendre). I'm afraid you must admit that only two verb forms are regular : first and second group. Papatt (talk) 01:01, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
That's exactly what I'm saying. (Coudre is another exception for you.) However, there are enough -re verbs that follow that one pattern to merit a category. My idea is that we say that there are these three categories; er, ir, and re; and say "all verbs that not follow these patterns are considered irregular and do not fit in any categories". Then we can perhaps list all the model irregular verbs in a table (using something such as that list that I made; it's now complete thanks to your link) and give examples of verbs that are conjugated like irregular verbs. May I also point out that this view of the verbs is held by French Language Guide,,whatever the heck this is, one of the external links in this very article, Drs. Christopher Kendris and Theodore Kendris, Ph.D.s in their book 501 French Verbs; not to mention every single textbook and teacher and other source I have ever seen. However, if you can provide some reliable sources for this article's earth-shaking views, I am willing to accept it.Interchangeable|talk to me 18:42, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, if you show sources using this categozation, I must admit you may use them too. Please do. Papatt (talk) 21:03, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry; I don't understand. Are you saying that I'm right, or asking me to show more sources? Interchangeable|talk to me 22:38, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I say you must be right. Papatt (talk) 08:33, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
Alright; I'll work on a draft in my userspace and copy it here when I'm done. Interchangeable|talk to me 23:57, 30 September 2011 (UTC)