French/Grammar/Print version

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  1. Adjectives
  2. Adverbs
  3. Articles
  4. Negation
  5. Prepositions
  6. Sentences
  7. Verbs
  8. Conjugations
  9. Verb tenses sorted by type
  10. Verb moods

Adjectives[edit]

Just like articles, French adjectives also have to match the nouns that they modify in gender and plurality.

Regular formation[edit]

Spelling[edit]

Most adjective changes occur in the following manner:

  • Feminine: add an -e to the masculine form
    • un garçon intéressant --> une fille intéressante
    • un ami amusant --> une amie amusante
    • un camion lent --> une voiture lente
  • Plural: add an -s to the singular form
    • un garçon intéressant --> des garçons intéressants
    • une fille intéressante --> des filles intéressantes

Pronunciation[edit]

Generally, the final consonant is pronounced only when it comes before an -e. Most adjectives, such as those above, are affected by this rule.

  • Masculine Pronuciation: intéressan, amusan, len
  • Feminine Pronunciation: intéressant, amusant, lent

Irregular formation[edit]

Irregular plural formation[edit]

Examples
M Sing. --> M. Pl. Masc. Singular --> Masc. Plural Notes
No change -s -s un plafond bas
un gros porc
des plafonds bas
des gros porcs
-x -x un homme généreux
un garçon furieux
des hommes généreux
des garçons furieux
Add x -eau -eaux un nouveau jeu des nouveaux jeux
-al -aux un vent hivernal des vents hivernaux Exceptions: fatal (fatals),
final (finals) & naval (navals)

Irregular feminine formation[edit]

Examples
Masc. --> Fem. Masculine --> Feminine Notes
No change -e -e égoïste, populaire, sociable, timide,
énergique, dynamique, sympathique
* When the masc. form ends in an -e, there is no change.
* The final consonant is pronounced on the masc. form.
Final
Consonant
Doubled
-el -elle cruel cruelle When an adjective has one of these endings, the ending of
the feminine form is doubled. There is no change of
pronunciation when changing from -el to -elle.
-il is pronounced "ee" (as in keen), while -ille is similar, with a final yuh (pronounced like "ee" in keen with a "yuh" on the end: IPA /ij/).
-on is pronounced oh(n) and -onne is pronounced ohn.
-en is pronounced a(n) and -enne is pronounced ehn.
-os is pronounced oh and -osse is pronounced ohs.
-as is pronounced ah and -asse is pronounced ahs.
-il -ille gentil gentille
-on -onne bon
breton
bonne
bretonne
-en -enne ancien
parisien
ancienne
parisienne
-os -osse gros grosse
-as -asse bas basse
-c
change
-c -che blanc
franc
blanche
franche
-eur
change
-eur -euse accrocheur
prometteur
accrocheuse
prometteuse
-eux
change
-eux -euse furieux
généreux
furieuse
généreuse
-eux is pronounced ew (like dew) and -euse is pronounced ews.
-g
change
-g -gue long
longue
-if
change
-if -ive sportif
actif
sportive
active
er
change
-er -ère étranger
cher
étrangère
chère
-er is pronounced ay and -ère is pronounced ehr, though exceptions such as "cher" exist in which both forms are pronounced with ehr.
-et
change
-et -ète inquiet
complet
inquiète
complète
-et is pronounced ay and -ète is pronounced eht.
-ou
change
-ou / -ol -olle fou, fol
mou, mol
folle
molle
-ol forms occur before a vowel or mute h.

Special rules[edit]

Adjectives that precede nouns[edit]

List[edit]

Adjectives that are used frequently before nouns. These are:

  • affreux (affreuse)
  • autre
  • beau (belle)
  • bon(ne) +
  • court(e) +
  • dernier (dernière) +
  • gentil (gentille)
  • grand(e) +
  • gros(se) +
  • haut(e)
  • jeune +
  • joli(e)
  • large
  • long(ue)
  • mauvais(e)
  • méchant(e) +
  • meilleur(e)
  • nouveau (nouvelle)
  • pauvre
  • petit(e)
  • vieux (vieille)
  • vilain(e)

+ sometimes placed after a noun, and may change in meaning

When these adjectives appear before an indefinite plural noun, they will change the article associated with it [1]:

  • des garçons courageux / de beaux garçons

Changes in meaning[edit]

When grand goes before a noun, it means great. However, when it goes after the noun, it means tall. Likewise, when pauvre goes before a noun, it means unfortunate. When it comes after the noun, it means financially poor. This rule works most of the time, but be careful, "pauvre" can mean "financially poor" even when used before the nouns.

Beau, nouveau, and vieux[edit]

These three adjectives behave differently when placed before a singular masculine noun starting with a vowel or silent h:

Masc. Sing. Cons. Masc. Sing Vowel Masc. Plural Fem. Sing. (all) Fem. Plural
Beau un beau garçon un bel individu de beaux garçons une belle fillette de belles fillettes
Nouveau un nouveau camion un nouvel ordre de nouveaux ordres une nouvelle idée de nouvelles idées
Vieux un vieux camion un vieil ordre de vieux camions une vieille idée de vieilles idées

Possessive adjectives[edit]

In English, we say "her car" when the owner of the car is a woman and "his car" when the owner is a man. In French, they say "sa voiture" even if the owner is a male. It is not the owner who determines the gender of the possessive adjective but the object owned.

First person singular - mon, ma, mes
Second person singular (informal) - ton, ta, tes
Third person singular - son, sa, ses

First person plural - notre, notre, nos
Second person plural (and polite form) - votre, votre, vos
Third person plural - leur, leur, leurs

Note: Exception. When a feminine noun starts with a vowel or silent 'h', you should utilize "Mon" instead of "Ma". Example:

Mon ami = ok 
Ma amie = error! 
Mon amie = ok.

Demonstrative adjectives[edit]

There are four adjectives that demonstrate a specific object:

  • Ce garçon (masculin)
  • Cet ami (masculin before vowel or silent h)
  • Cette fille (feminine)
  • Ces enfants (plural)

References[edit]

  1. Price, Glanville (2008), A Comprehensive French Grammar (6 ed.), Blackwell, p. 35, ISBN 978-1-4051-5385-0 

Adverbs[edit]

French adverbs, like their English counterparts, are used to modify adjectives, other adverbs, and verbs or clauses. They do not display any inflection; that is, their form does not change to reflect their precise role, nor any characteristics of what they modify.

Formation[edit]

In French, as in English, most adverbs are derived from adjectives. In most cases, this is done by adding the suffix -ment ("-ly") to the adjective's feminine singular form. For example, the feminine singular form of lent ("slow") is lente, so the corresponding adverb is lentement ("slowly"); similarly, heureuxheureusement ("happy" → "happily").

As in English, however, the adjective stem is sometimes modified to accommodate the suffix:

  • If the adjective ends in an i, then -ment is added to the masculine singular (default) form, rather than to the feminine singular form:
    • vraivraiment ("real" → "really")
    • polipoliment ("polite" → "politely")
  • If the adjective ends in -ant or -ent, then the corresponding adverb ends in -amment or -emment, respectively:
    • constantconstamment ("constant" → "constantly")
    • récentrécemment ("recent" → "recently")
  • Some adjectives make other changes:
    • précisprécisément ("precise" → "precisely")
    • gentilgentiment ("nice" → "nicely")

Some adverbs are derived from adjectives in completely irregular fashions, not even using the suffix -ment:

  • bonbien ("good" → "well")
  • mauvaismal ("bad" → "badly")
  • meilleurmieux ("better"-adjective → "better"-adverb)
  • pirepire ("worse"-adjective → "worse"-adverb)

And, as in English, many common adverbs are not derived from adjectives at all:

  • ainsi ("thus" or "thusly")

Placement[edit]

The placement of French adverbs is almost the same as the placement of English adverbs.

An adverb that modifies an adjective or adverb comes before that adjective or adverb:

  • complètement vrai ("completely true")
  • pas possible ("not possible")
  • tellement discrètement ("so discreetly")

An adverb that modifies an Infinitive (verbal noun) generally comes after the infinitive:

  • marcher lentement ("to walk slowly")

But negative adverbs, such as pas ("not"), pas plus ("not any more"), and jamais come before the infinitive:

  • ne pas marcher ("not to walk")

An adverb that modifies a main verb or clause comes either after the verb, or before the clause:

  • Lentement il commença à marcher or Il commença lentement à marcher ("Slowly, he began to walk" or "He began slowly to walk").

Note that, unlike in English, this is true even of negative adverbs:

  • Jamais je n'ai fait cela or Je n'ai jamais fait cela ("Never have I done that" or "I've never done that")

List of common adverbs[edit]

Adverb English Group French Example English Translation
actuellement currently time
ainsi thus, so manner ainsi va la vie so life goes (nothing you can do)
après afterwards time On va au cinéma après We'll go to the cinema afterwards
assez enough quantity J'en ai eu assez I've had enough
aussi also manner
aussitôt straight away time
autant as many / as much quantity
autrefois in the past time
autrement differently, otherwise manner
avant-hier on the day before yesterday time
beau, bel, belle nicely (in expressions) manner
beaucoup (de) much, many quantity
bien well manner
bientôt soon time à tres bientôt see you very soon
cependant however conjunction
certainement certainly affirmation
certes admittedly, of course affirmation leur tâche est certes plus difficile their task is admittedly more difficult
ci-dessous below place Rédigez votre message ci-dessous Write your message below
combien (de) how much, many interrogative un succès, ô combien mérité a success, oh how deserved
comment how interrogative
complètement completely degree il se troue complètement he screws up completely
davantage more, longer degree
debout standing, up manner
dedans inside place ils se sont rentrés dedans they crashed into each other
en dehors de outside, apart from place
déjà already time
au delà de beyond place au delà de 35 ans over 35 years old
demain tomorrow time demain soir tomorrow evening
désormais from now on time
devant ahead, in front place
doucement gently, quietly manner
également also, equally degree
encore again, still time Ils jouent encore They are still playing
enfin at last, finally time
ensemble together manner on vivait ensemble depuis longtemps we have been living together for a long time
ensuite then, next time Ensuite, cela devenait très compliqué Then it became very difficult
environ about degree il va être absent environ un mois he will be off for about a month
facilement easily manner
fort strongly manner il a démarré très fort he started very strongly
heureusement fortunately manner
hier yesterday time
ici here, now place les vacances commencent ici the holidays start here
there place
là-dedans in here, in there place il n'y a rien de mystère là-dedans there is no mystery in it
là-dessus on here, on there place on reste là-dessus we stay where we are
largement greatly, well degree
légèrement lightly, slightly degree
lentement slowly manner lentement mais sûrement slowly but surely
loin far place la soirée est loin d'être fini the evening is far from over
longtemps a long time time
lors de during time
maintenant now time Et maintenant on fait quoi? And now, what do we do?
mal badly, wrongly manner
malheureusement unfortunately manner
même even degree
moins less, least quantity
néanmoins nevertheless manner
parfois sometimes time La vie est parfois cruel Life is sometimes cruel
partout everywhere place
peu little degree on peut respirer un peu mieux we can breathe a little easier
peut-être perhaps affirmation la prochaine fois, peut-être next time, perhaps
plus more quantity nous sommes plus que jamais déterminé we are more determined than ever
plutôt rather degree
pourquoi why interrogative
pourtant yet Si près, et pourtant si loin ! So near, and yet so far!
près close place
presque almost degree
puis then time
quelque approximately quantity on supporte le parti quelque soit les sondages we support the party whatever the opinion polls
quelquefois sometimes time je joue quelquefois du piano I sometimes play the piano
récemment recently time
seulement only degree
si yes, so, however, as affirmation ils ne méritent pas d'être en si bonne position they don't deserve to be in as good a position
souvent often time
surtout above all
tant so much quantity un événement tant attendu a much awaited event
tantôt sometimes, this afternoon time
tard late time
tellement so much, so many degree la météo c'est tellement imprévisible the weather is so unpredictable
tôt soon, early time les billets ont été épuisés plus tôt que prévu the tickets were sold out earlier than expected
toujours still, always time
tout very, quite degree tout à fait justifié totally justified
très very degree
vite quickly manner
vraiment really, truly affirmation
y to it, there place

Articles[edit]

The definite article · L'article défini[edit]

The definite article agrees with a specific noun in gender and number. Like other articles (indefinite, partitive) they present a noun. In English, the definite article is always the (the noun). Unlike English, the French definite article is used also in a general sense, a general statement, or feeling about an idea or thing.

In French, the definite article is dependent on the noun's:

  1. gender
  2. plurality
  3. first letter being a vowel

There are three definite articles and an abbreviation. Le is used for masculine nouns, La is used for feminine nouns, Les is used for plural nouns (both masculine or feminine), and L' is used when the noun begins with a vowel or silent h (both masculine or feminine). It is similar to English, where a changes to an before a vowel.

singular feminine la Listen /la/ (lah) la fille (lah fee-yuh) the daughter
masculine le Listen /lə/ (luh) le fils (luh fees) the son
singular, starting with a vowel sound l’ /l/ l’enfant (lah(n)-fah(n)) the child
plural les Listen /le/ (lay) les filles (lay fee-yuh) the daughters
les fils Template:French/Section (''lay fees'') the sons
les enfants (lay-zah(n)-fah(n)) the children

The indefinite article · L'article indéfini[edit]

In English, the indefinite articles are a and an. While some is used as a plural article. In French, indefinite articles take on the gender of the noun it precedes if singular, but also has a plural form that is used for either gender.

singular feminine une /yn/ (ewn) une fille a daughter
masculine un /œ̃/ (uh(n)) un fils a son
plural des /dɛ/ (deh) des filles some daughters
des fils some sons

Note that des, like les, is used in French before plural nouns when no article is used in English. For example, you are looking at photographs in an album. The English statement "I am looking at photographs." cannot be translated to French as "Je regarde photographies" because an article is required to tell which photographs are being looked at. If it is a set of specific pictures, the French statement should be "Je regarde les photographies." ("I am looking at the photographs.") . On the other hand, if the person is just randomly browsing the album, the French translation is "Je regarde des photographies." ("I am looking at some photographs.")

Partitive article[edit]

The partitive article de indicates, among other things, the word some. As for prepositions, de le contracts (combines) into du, and de les contracts into des. Also, de l' is used in front of words starting with vowels.

When speaking about food, the partitive article is used sometimes, while the definite article (le, la, les) is used at other times, and the indefinite article (un, une) in yet another set of situations. In general "de" refers to a part of food (a piece of pie) whereas the definite article (le) refers to a food in general (I like pie (in general)). The indefinite article refers to an entire unit of a food (I would like a (whole) pie).

When speaking about preferences, use the definite article:

J'aime la glace. I like ice cream.
Nous préférons le steak. We prefer steak.
Vous aimez les frites You like French fries.

When speaking about eating or drinking an item, there are specific situations for the use of each article.

Def. art. specific/whole items
J'ai mangé la tarte. I ate the (whole) pie.
Ind. art. known quantity
J'ai mangé une tarte. I ate a pie.
Part. art. unknown quantity
J'ai mangé de la tarte. I ate some pie.
J'ai mangé beaucoup de tarte. I ate a lot of pie.
Je n'ai pas mangé les tranches de tarte ! I didn't eat the slices of pie!
Part. art. known quantity
J'ai mangé deux des tartes. I ate two of the pies.

If the noun taken in a partitive sense happens to be preceded by a qualifying adjective, or a negative verb, then de is used alone.

  • un, une, du, de la, des change to de.
  • for specific quantities;however, the quantity rather than de is used.
Nous avons mangé une tarte. We ate a pie.
Nous n'avons pas mangé de tarte. We did not eat a pie/ We did not eat any pie.
Nous n'avons pas mangé deux tartes. We did not eat two pies
Nous avons mangé de la tarte. We ate some pie.
Nous n'avons pas mangé de tarte. We did not eat some pie/ We did not eat any pie.

Nouns[edit]

Gender of nouns · Genre des noms[edit]

In French, all nouns have a grammatical gender; that is, they are either masculin (m) or feminin (f).

Most nouns that express people or animals have both a masculine and a feminine form. For example, the two words for "the actor" in French are l'acteur (m) and l'actrice (f). The two words for "the cat" are le chat (m) and la chatte (f).

However, there are some nouns that talk about people or animals whose gender are fixed, regardless of the actual gender of the person or animal. For example, la personne (f) (the person) is always feminine, even when it's talking about your uncle! Le professeur (m) (the professor) is always masculine, even when it's talking about your female professor/teacher!

The nouns that express things without an obvious gender (e.g., objects and abstract concepts) have only one form. This form can be masculine or feminine. For example, la voiture (the car) can only be feminine; le stylo (the pen) can only be masculine.

Examples
Masculine Common endings used with masculine nouns
le cheval the horse -age le fromage the cheese
le chien the dog -r le professeur[1] the teacher
le livre the book -t le chat the cat
le bruit the noise -isme le capitalisme capitalism
Feminine Common endings used with feminine nouns
la colombe the dove -ie la boulangerie the bakery
la chemise the shirt -ion la nation the nation
la maison the house -ite/-ité la fraternité brotherhood
la liberté liberty -nce la balance the scales
-lle la fille the girl
-nne l’indienne the Indian

Irregularities and exceptions[edit]

There are three nouns in French where gender is altered when put in the plural form:

amour (un amour passionné → des amours passionnées)
orgue
délice

There are many exceptions to gender rules in French which can only be learned. There are even words that are spelled the same, but have a different meaning when masculine or feminine; for example, le livre (m) means the book, but la livre (f) means the pound. Some words that appear to be masculine (like le photo, which is actually short for la photographie) are in fact feminine, and vice versa. Then there are some that just don't make sense; la foi is feminine and means a belief, whereas le foie means liver.

Plurals[edit]

Irregular plurals[edit]

Prepositions[edit]

Common prepositions[edit]

Preposition Translation Example Notes
à 1. to
2. at
3. of
4. in
Je vais à Paris. -- I am going to Paris.
Je pars à cinq heures. -- I am leaving at five
C'est un ami à moi. -- This is a friend of mine.
C'est la voiture à John. -- This is John's car.
-Expresses a report/ratio of place (to), time (at), possession (of or 's), means, manner, price.
- Introduced a complement of indirect object or a complement of attribution, a complement of the name or adjective.
à côté de next to, besides La salle des fêtes se trouve à côté de l'église. -- The village hall is next to the church.
à l'intérieur de inside l'air à l'intérieur de la maison -- the air inside the house Alternative: dedans (rarely used as a preposition)
afin de in order to Il a pressé l’orange afin d’en extraire du jus. He squeezed the orange to extract juice from it.
après after On mange après avoir bu. -- We eat after we drink Also an adverb.
autour de around La Lune gravite autour de la Terre. -- The Moon orbits around the Earth.
avant (de) before, in front Je préfère de me coucher avant minuit. I prefer to go to bed before midnight. The usage of de is before infinitives.
avec with Ils sont avec leurs familles. They are with their families.
chez at the home of Il est allé chez lui. He went home.
contre against Le cheval se gratte contre la muraille. The horse is scratching against the wall.
dans in
into
out of, from
Les livres sont dans la bibliothèque. The books are in the library.
Mettre l'argent dans la poche. Put money into one's pocket.
Il prend le beurre dans le réfrigérateur. He takes the butter out of the fridge.
Synonym: en
IPA: /dɑ̃/
de 1. of, from
2. about
Also an indefinite artcle.
Contractions: du, des
IPA: /də/
depuis for; since J'ai joué du piano depuis trois ans. I have played the piano for three years.
derrière behind Vos clés sont derrière votre lit. Your keys are behind your bed.
dès from Votez dès maintenant pour votre favori ! Vote now for your favorite!
dès que as soon as Je veux commencer dès que possible. I want to start as soon as possible.
devant in front of, ahead of Garder les yeux sur la route devant vous. Keep your eyes on the road ahead of you.
en in, by Ils habitent en ville. They live in (the) town.
Nous allons aller en voiture. We will go by car.
Used mostly to indicate distance in time or space.
Also a pronoun.
entre between On peut lire entre les lignes. We can read between the lines.
hors de outside, out of Votre téléphone est hors de portée. Your telephone is out of range.
jusqu'à until La salle est disponible jusqu'à la fin de la semaine. The hall is available until the end of the week.
loin de far from Le lycée est loin de la plage. The school is far from the beach. Without "de", "loin" is an adverb.
malgré despite Je vais bien malgré le froid. I am fine in spite of the cold.
par 1. through
2. by, for
J'irai par la fôret. I will go through the forest.
Vous pouvez nous contacter par téléphone. You can contact us by telephone.
parmi among Paris reste parmi les villes les plus chères au monde. Paris remains among the most expensive cities in the world.
pendant during, throughout La lune a brillé pendant trois nuits. The moon shone for three nights.
près de near La bibliothèque est près de la mairie. The library is near the town hall. Without "de", "près" is an adverb.
pour for Je l'ai volé pour toi. I stole it for you. IPA: /pur/
sans without Elles veulent avoir une fête sans alcool. They want to have a party without alcohol.
sauf except Ouvert tous les jours sauf le dimanche. Open every day except Sunday.
selon according to Selon une étude récente... According to a recent study...
sous under La Côte d'Azur est sous la neige. The Côte d'Azur is under the snow.
sur 1. on
2. upon
3. on top of
4. above
5. out of
Il y a beaucoup de monde sur la plage. There are lots of people on the beach.
sept sur dix seven out of ten
Synonyms: au-dessus de (above)
Antonyms: sous (below, under)
Antonyms: dessous, au-dessous-de (below)
IPA: /syr/ (audio)
vers 1. about, around 2. towards L'avion devrait décoller vers 9 heures. The plane should take off around 9 o'clock.
Un ouragan se dirige vers le Texas. A hurricane is heading towards Texas.
voici here is/are Voici ton vrai père ! Here is your real father!
voilà there is/are Voilà les escrocs ! There are the swindlers!
en face (de) across from / face to face Cette fille est en face de vous. That lady is across from you
au lieu de instead of Vous devriez sortir au lieu de rester à la maison. You should go out instead of staying at home.
au fond de at the bottom of Il ya beaucoup de poissons au fond de l'étang There are many fish at the bottom of the pond.

Pronouns[edit]

Subject pronouns[edit]

A pronoun replaces a noun in a sentence. Often used to prevent repeating the noun. French has six different types of subject pronouns: the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person singular and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person plural.

Grammar
Subject Pronouns · Les pronoms soumis
1st person singular je I
plural nous we
2nd person singular tu you
plural vous* you
3rd person singular il, elle, on** he, she, one
plural ils, elles*** they (masculine)
they (feminine)

Notes:

* When referring to more than one person in the 2nd person, “vous” must be used. When referring to a single person, “vous” or “tu” may be used depending on the situation. Tu is informal and used only with well-known acquaintances. In case of unknown persons you have to use the polite form Vous. A good example, to explain that is the following: If two business acquaintances meet another, they say Vous. If they later fall in love, they say Tu. When unsure, it is better to say "vous." Also, grammatically, even the singular form of "vous" behaves as though it were a plural, so even if you are addressing only one person, you would still use verbal grammar consistent with addressing multiple people, similar to English (as in "you are", "you [all] are", "they are.") Nevertheless, the adjectives or past participles are declined according to the true number of the referring pronoun.

Examples, addressing one person:

  • Tu chantes - you sing (informal)
  • Vous chantez - you sing (polite) - (also, to address many persons)
  • Tu es grand - You are tall (informal)
  • Vous êtes grand - You are tall (polite, male)
  • Vous êtes grande - You are tall (polite, female)

Examples, addressing many persons:

  • Vous êtes grands - You are tall (informal or polite, male, many persons)
  • Vous êtes grandes - You are tall (informal or polite, female, many persons)

** - il denotes masculine nouns, elle denotes feminine nouns, and on is for indeterminate subjects (see below).

*** - While the third person plural "they" has no gender in English, the French equivalents "ils" and "elles" do. However, when pronounced, they normally sound the same as "il" and "elle", so distinguishing the difference requires understanding of the various conjugations of the verbs following the pronoun. Ils is used with all-male or mixed groups, elles is only used when all members of the group are female. Examples:

  • Jack et Philipp parlent - Jack and Philipp speak
    Ils parlent - They speak (all-male group)
  • Jack et Lucy parlent - Jack and Lucy speak
    Ils parlent - They speak (mixed group)
  • Lucy et Dina parlent - Lucy and Dina speak
    Elles parlent - They speak (all female group)

The pronoun on[edit]

French pronouns carry meanings that do not exist in English pronouns. The French third person "on" has several meanings, but most closely matches the English "one", except that it is not so formal, and is more common. It has a number of uses:

  • It is used in the same ways as the English personal pronoun one:
    • It is used in expressing generalities: « C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron. » ("It is by blacksmithing that one becomes a blacksmith.")
    • It is the implicit subject for an infinitive that has no other implicit subject: « penser qu'on a raison » ("to think that one is right," i.e. "to think oneself right").
  • Because of French's limited passive voice, it is often used as an empty subject when the agent is unknown or unimportant: « On me l'a donné. » ("[On] gave it to me" or "I was given it" or "It was given to me.")
  • It is used as a less formal substitute for the subject pronoun nous (we). In this case, note that even though on always takes a third-person singular verb, it takes plural adjectives (« On est américains », "We're American"). Also, note that the other forms of nous (direct object, indirect object, and disjunctive) are not replaced by forms of on unless on is the subject as well. (Hence, « Ils nous l'ont donné », "They gave it to us," but « On se l'est donné », "We gave it to ourselves.")
  • It is not the number 1, and therefore is not used to mean "one of them." In French as in English, numbers can be used as pronouns — « Deux sont entrés et un est ressorti »,

"Two went in and one came back out" — but the number 1 is un(e), not on.

On does not have ordinary direct- and indirect-object pronouns, only the reflexive pronoun se. Similarly, its disjunctive-pronoun form, soi, is only used when on is the subject and soi refers to the same entity. The pronoun quelqu'un ("someone") can fill some of the roles of on, in the same way that one and someone are sometimes interchangeable in English.

Object Pronouns me, te, se, nous, and vous[edit]

Meanings[edit]

  • me - me, to me
  • te - you, to you (singular, informal)
  • se - to him/her (or himself/herself/itself - reflexive)
  • nous - us, to us
  • vous - you, to you (plural, formal)
  • se - to them (or themselves - reflexive)

Place in sentences[edit]

  • These pronouns are placed before the verb that they modify
    • Je te vois. - I see you.
    • Je veux te voir. - I want to see you.
  • If a perfect tense is used, these pronouns go before the auxiliary verb.
    • Je t'ai vu. - I saw you.

Direct object replacement[edit]

  • Il me voit. - He sees me.
  • Il te voit. - He sees you.
  • Il nous voit. - He sees us.
  • Il vous voit. - He sees you.

Indirect Object Replacement[edit]

  • Il m'appelle. - He calls to me.
  • Il te le jette. - He throws it to you.
  • Il nous le jette. - He throws it to us.
  • Il vous le jette. - He throws it to you.

l', le, la, and les[edit]

l', le, la, and les are pronouns which are used as direct objects and hence are called direct object pronouns. A direct object is a noun that receives the action of a verb.

  • Il jette la boule. - He throws the ball.

In the above sentence la boule is the direct object.

You have learned earlier that names and regular nouns can be replaced by the subject pronouns (je, tu...). Similarly, direct objects, such as "la boule", can be replaced by pronouns.

  • le - replaces a masculine singular direct object
  • la - replaces a feminine singular direct object
  • l' - replaces le and la if they come before a vowel
  • les - replaces plural direct objects, both masculine and feminine

The direct object pronouns come before the verb they are linked to.

  • Il la jette. - He throws it.
  • Il les jette. - He throws them.

Note[edit]

When direct object pronouns are being used with passe compose, which do not represent movement (i.e. use avoir conjugation before the past participle), some endings are added to the past participle.

Object Endings
Masculine Singular None
Feminine Singular e
Masculine Plural s
Feminine Plural es

e.g Je les ai eu(e)s.

lui and leur[edit]

Indirect objects are prepositional phrases with the object of the preposition. An indirect object is a noun that receives the action of a verb.

  • Il jette la boule à Jacques. - He throws the ball to Jack.
  • Il jette la boule à Marie. - He throws the ball to Mary.
  • Il jette la boule à Jacques et Marie. - He throws the ball to Jack and Mary.

Lui and leur are indirect object pronouns. They replace nouns referring to people and mean to him/her and to them respectively.

  • lui - replaces a singular masculine or feminine indirect object referring to a human
  • leur - replaces a plural masculine or feminine indirect object referring to a human

An example follows:

  • Il lui jette la boule. - He throws the ball to him.
  • Il lui jette la boule. - He throws the ball to her.
  • Il leur jette la boule. - He throws the ball to them.

Whether lui means to him or to her is given by context.

In English, "He throws him the ball" is also said, and means the same thing.

When used with the direct object pronouns le, la, and les, lui and leur come after those pronouns.

  • Il la lui jette. - He throws it to him.

Note that while le, la, and les are used to replace people or inanimate objects, lui and leur are not used to replace innanimate objects and things.

Also note that unlike le and la, which are shortened to l' when followed by a vowel, lui is never shortened

y[edit]

Indirect object pronoun - to it, to them[edit]

The French pronoun y is used to replace an object of a prepositional phrase introduced by à.

  • Je réponds aux questions. - I respond to the questions.
  • J'y réponds. - I respond to them.

Note that lui and leur, and not y, are used when the object refers to a person or persons.

Replacement of places - there[edit]

The French pronoun y replaces a prepositional phrase referring to a place that begins with any preposition except de (for which en is used).

  • Les hommes vont en France. - The men go to France.
  • Les hommes y vont. - The men go there.

Note that en, and not y is used when the object is of the preposition de.

Idioms[edit]

  • Ça y est! - It's done!
  • J'y suis! - I get it!

en[edit]

Replacement of a partitive construction[edit]

  • The pronoun en replaces a noun with a partitive article (l'article partitif: du, de la, de, des) at the front. In this case En goes always with the singular, even if there are many items addressed.
    • Je veux du pain. => J'en veux. - I want some bread. => I want some.

Replacement of quantified nouns[edit]

If the quantity of the object is specified, "en" is used for the replacement of the noun.

Example: Il a acheté deux pommes. => Il en a acheté deux.

Note that no agreement is needed between the past participle (le participe passé) and the object (complément d'objet direct).

Replacement of phrases with de[edit]

  • The pronoun en replaces prepositional phrases beginning with de if the object of the preposition is referring to a thing or place.
    • Je viens de Paris. - I come from Paris.
    • J' en viens. - I come from it.
  • Note that stress pronouns, and not en are used if the object refers to a person or persons.

Pronoun order[edit]

Order chart[edit]

If a sentence uses no infinitive, the pronouns are embedded as follows:

Subject
Pronoun
(or noun)
Neg Direct or
Indirect
Direct Obj
Pronouns
Indirect
Objects
Neg
je
tu
il (elle)
nous
vous
ils (elles)
ne me
te
nous
vous
se (reflexive)
le
la
l'
les
lui
leur
y en conjugated
verb
pas
plus
etc...
past
participle

If a sentence uses an infinitive, the pronouns are embedded as follows:

Subject
Pronoun
(or noun)
Neg Neg Direct or
Indirect
Direct Obj
Pronouns
Indirect
Objects
je
tu
il (elle)
nous
vous
ils (elles)
ne conjugated
verb
pas
plus
etc...
past
participle
me
te
nous
vous
se (reflexive)
le
la
l'
les
lui
leur
y en infinitive

Order rules[edit]

  • When a sentence uses the indirect object pronouns me, te, nous, and vous with the direct object pronouns le, la, and les, me, te, nous, and vous go first.
    • Il me le donne. - He gives it to me.
  • When a sentence uses the indirect object pronouns lui and leur with the direct object pronouns le, la, and l', le, la, and les go first.
    • Il le lui donne. - He gives it to him/her.
  • When y is used in the same sentence as other pronouns, y goes after all of them with the exception of en.
    • Il m'emmène à Paris. - He takes me to Paris.
    • Il m'y emmène. - He takes me there.
  • Y in conjunction with en is only used in a few cases.
    • Il y en a. - There exist several ones.
    • Est-ce qu'il y a des pommes? (Oui,) il y en a. (No,) il n'y en a (pas/plus). - Are there any apples (left)? Yes, there are. No, there aren't.
  • When there are two pronouns in a sentence, en always go last.

L'impératif[edit]

When expressing positive commands, there are several rules one must remember when using object pronouns. These are:

  • The pronouns are attached to the verb with a hyphen.
    • Retrouve-la. - Find it.
  • Me and Te become moi and toi.
    • Donnez-moi les vidéos. - Give me the videos.
  • Le, la, and les precede all other object pronouns.
    • Donnez-le-moi. - Give it to me.
  • For the second person singular form, an "s" is added if the object (in the pronoun form) begins with a vowel or "y".
    • Va au tableau. - Go to the blackboard. BUT Vas-y. - Go (there).
    • Vas-y. - Come on.
    • Achète des pommes. - Buy some apples. BUT Achètes-en. - Buy some.

Possessive pronouns[edit]

Possessive pronouns replace possessive article + noun sets.

Grammar
Possessive Pronouns · Les pronoms possesifs
mon copain
my friend
ton copain
your friend
son copain
his/her friend
notre copain
our friend
votre copain
your friend
leur copain
their friend
le mien
mine
le tien
yours
le sien
his/hers
le nôtre
ours
le vôtre
yours
le leur
theirs
mes copains
my friends
tes copains
your friends
ses copains
his/her friends
nos copains
our friends
vos copains
your friends
leurs copains
their friends
les miens
mine
les tiens
yours
les siens
his/hers
les nôtres
ours
les vôtres
yours
les leurs
theirs
ma copine
my friend
ta copine
your friend
sa copine
his/her friend
notre copine
our friend
votre copine
your friend
leur copine
their friend
la mienne
mine
la tienne
yours
la sienne
his/hers
la nôtre
ours
la vôtre
yours
la leur
theirs
mes copines
my friends
tes copines
your friends
ses copines
his/her friends
nos copines
our friends
vos copines
your friends
leurs copines
their friends
les miennes
mine
les tiennes
yours
les siennes
his/hers
les nôtres
ours
les vôtres
yours
les leurs
theirs
  • Vous avez votre voiture? - You have your car?
  • Oui, nous avons la nôtre. - Yes, we have ours.

À + a stress pronoun is used when the noun replaced is also the subject of the sentence. This usually occurs in sentences with être.

  • Elle est ta voiture? - Is that your car?
  • Oui, elle est à moi. - Yes, it is mine.

Sentences[edit]

In the introduction of the book the description of a sentence, versus a phrase was outlined. A phrase does not contain a subject + verb, while a sentence includes a subject (what or whom) and a predicate (tells us about the subject). A sentence, and not a phrase, is a grammatical unit, which may have nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Like English, a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark.

In the introduction we highlighted the types of sentences, and these are:

  • Declarative (statements)
  • Interrogative (questions)
  • Exclamatory (exclamations)
  • Commanding (commands)


Declarative[edit]

A simple declarative sentence is subject + verb + object noun. This word order is pretty much the same as English. "Henry got a car." You may have heard that there are some English sentences that cannot be translated to French. While this is true in the literal sense, it doesn't mean you can't get the point across in another way. The French declarative sentence with direct and indirect object nouns must be in this order: subject + verb + direct object + indirect object.

For example, I can say "Peter bought a car for his son Henry" in French, but I can't say "Peter bought his son Henry a car." In the first example Peter is the subject, bought is the verb, a car is the direct object, and for his son Henry is the indirect object. In the second example you will see that the direct object and indirect object have been swapped. In order to translate an English statement like this, you would have to slide the indirect object to its proper place.

Henri obtenu une voiture. (Simple declarative)
Pierre a acheté une voiture pour son fils Henri. (With direct + indirect object)
Pierre a acheté pour son fils Henri une voiture. (With indirect + direct object - wrong)

Interrogative[edit]

Formation[edit]

Intonation[edit]

As in English, raising the tone at the end of a sentence can turn it into a question.

Example:

Il aime les bonbons. He likes sweets.
Il aime les bonbons? Does he like sweets?

Est-ce que...[edit]

"Est-ce que" (ehs kuh) by itself does not mean anything. Like the upside-down question mark in Spanish '¿', it merely indicates the sentence is an informal question. To form a question, attach "Est-ce que..." at the beginning of the sentence. Sometimes "que" has to be modified to "qu'" for elision. Est-ce is actually the inversion of c'est ("it is"). Like all inversions a '-' dash is required.

These questions in this form are typically mean't to elicit a "Oui" or "Non" answer. If you want more than that, you must precede it with an interrogative: Quand est-ce que, Qui est-ce que, or Quel est-ce que, for example.

Some of these later examples can more easily be said by just leaving the inversion off. For example "Quel est le problème ?" is preferred to "Quel est-ce que le problèm ?"

If the question is negative, then the form is: n'est-ce pas, as in: N'est-ce pas qu'il fait beau temps ? ou Il fait beau temps; n'est-ce pas ? (It is good weather, is it not?)

Example: Il aime ce film. => Est-ce qu'il aime ce film ?
(He likes this film. => Does he like this film?)

Inversion[edit]

This is considered to be the most formal way to ask a question out of the three.
(The indicative form of the following sentences will be placed in parentheses for comparison.)

To ask a question by inversion, simply invert the verb and the subject (the pronoun) and insert a hyphen (un trait d'union) in between.
Example: Do you like apples? (You like apples.)
Aimes-tu les pommes ? (Tu aimes les pommes.)

In the case where the verb ends in a vowel while the subject starts with one, a "t" needs to be inserted to avoid elision.
Example: Did she make the decision already? (She made the decision already.)
A-t-elle déjà pris la décision ? (Elle a déjà pris la décision.)

(Notice that for compound tense [les temps composés], only the avoir or être part is interchanged with the subject.)

For third person plural (verbs ending in "ent"), there is no need to insert the "t".
Example: Are they buying a house? (They are buying a house.)
Achètent-ils une maison ? (Ils achètent une maison.)

If the subject is a noun instead of a pronoun, invert the verb and the pronoun that represents the subject.
Example: Did Marie choose this shirt? (Marie chose this shirt.)
'Marie a-t-elle choisi cette chemise ? (Marie a choisi cette chemise.)

For negative such as "ne...pas", the verb should be inserted in between:
Example: Didn't you eat the whole pizza? (You didn't eat the whole pizza.)
N'as-tu pas mangé la pizza entière ? (Tu n'as pas mangé la pizza entière.)

If there is a direct or indirect object (complément d'objet [in]direct), it goes before the verb.
Example: Have you been there? (You have been there.)
Y es-tu allé(e) ? (Tu y es allé(e).)

Question/Interrogative words[edit]

  • Où ? - Where?
  • Quand ? - When?
  • Pourquoi ? - Why?
  • Comment ? - How?
  • Quel/Quels/Quelle/Quelles ? - Which?
  • Qui ? - Who?
  • Combien ? - How much?
  • Quoi ? - What?

Exclamatory[edit]

Commanding[edit]

If...[edit]

Si...

With present tense (le présent):

(1) Si + (le présent), (le futur simple)
Example: If you finish your homework, I'll give you some candies.
Si tu finis tes devoirs, je te donnerai des bonbons.

(2) Si + (le présent), (l'impératif)
Example: If you are cold, close the window.
Si tu as froid, ferme la fenêtre.

With imperfect (l'imparfait) past tense (to express hypothetical situations):

(3) Si + (l'imparfait), (le conditionnel)
Example: If I had a million dollars, I would buy a house.
Si j'avais un million de dollars, j'achèterais une maison.

With "plus-que-parfait" (also to express hypothetical situations):

(4) Si + (le plus-que-parfait), (le conditionnel passé)
Example: If I had known (or "had I known") computers were so useful, I would have taken a computer course.
Si j'avais su que les ordinateurs étaient si utiles, j'aurais suivi un cours de l'informatique.


Verbs[edit]

Pronominal verbs[edit]

Pronominal verbs are verbs that include pronouns. These pronouns are me, te, se, nous, and vous and are used as either direct objects or indirect objects, depending on the verb that they modify. When pronominal verbs are conjugated in perfect tenses, être is used as the auxiliary verb.

The following table shows which reflexive pronoun to use with each form of the verb:

Subject Reflexive pronoun
je me
tu te
il, elle, on se
nous nous
vous vous
ils, elles se

Reflexive verbs[edit]

Reflexive verbs reflect the action on the subject.

  • Je me lave. - I wash myself.
  • Nous nous lavons. - We wash ourselves.
  • Ils se lavent. - They wash themselves.

Reflexive verbs can also be used as infinitives.

  • Je vais me laver. - I'm going to wash myself.

Either the conjugated verb or the infinitive can be negated each with slightly different meanings.

  • Je ne vais pas me laver. - I'm not going to wash myself.
  • Je vais ne pas me laver. - I'm going to not wash myself (for some period of time, e.g.).

In perfect tenses, the past participles agree with the direct object pronoun, but not the indirect object pronoun, in gender and plurality. Therefore it would only agree when the reflexive pronoun is the direct object. Also remember that the past participle does not agree with the direct object if it goes after the verb.

  • Elle s'est lavée. - She washed herself.
  • Nous nous sommes lavé(e)s. - We washed ourselves.
  • Elle s'est lavé les mains. - She washed her hands.
  • Nous nous sommes lavé les mains. - We washed our hands.

Here is an example conjugation of a reflexive verb:

Se coucher - to go to bed
Present[2] Passé composé[3] Futur proche[4]
Je me couche Je me suis couché(e) Je vais me coucher
Tu te couches Tu t'es couché(e) Tu vas te coucher
Il se couche Il s'est couché Il va se coucher
Elle se couche Elle s'est couchée Elle va se coucher
On se couche On s'est couché On va se coucher
Nous nous couchons Nous nous sommes couché(e)s Nous allons nous coucher
Vous vous couchez Vous vous êtes couché(e)(s) Vous allez vous coucher
Ils se couchent Ils se sont couchés Ils vont se coucher
Elles se couchent Elles se sont couchées Elles vont se coucher

^ 1. The futur simple, passé simple, imperfect, conditional and subjunctive are all conjugated with the reflexive pronoun in the same position as in the present.

^ 2. All reflexive verbs take être in the passé composé and therefore have an e added to the past participle for females and an s for plural.

^ 3. When a reflexive verb is put as an infinitive behind any other verb (e.g. vouloir, pouvoir, aller...) it still takes the appropriate reflexive pronoun.

Reciprocal verbs[edit]

With reciprocal verbs, people perform actions to each other.

Nous nous aimons. - We like each other.

Like reflexive verbs, the past participle of reciprocal verbs agrees in number and gender with the direct object if it goes before the verb. It therefore agrees with all reciprocal pronouns that function as direct objects.

Nous nous sommes aimé(e)s. - We liked each other.

The reciprocal pronoun can also function as an indirect object without a direct object pronoun.

Nous nous sommes parlé. - We spoke to each other.
Elles se sont téléphoné. - They telephoned one another.
Vous vous êtes écrit souvent? - You wrote to each other often?

Naturally pronominal verbs[edit]

Some verbs are pronominal without performing a reflexive or reciprocal action.

Tu te souviens? - Do you remember?

In perfect tenses, these verbs agree with the direct object if it goes before the verb. Otherwise, the past participle agrees with the subject.

Elle s'est souvenue. - She remembered.

Some verbs have different meanings as pronominal verbs.

  • rendre - to return, to give back
  • se rendre (à) - to go (to)

Negation[edit]

ne..pas[edit]

  • Simple negation is done by wrapping ne...pas around the verb.
    • Je ne vole pas. - I do not steal.
  • In a perfect tense, ne...pas wraps around the auxiliary verb, not the participle.
    • Je n'ai pas volé. - I haven't stolen.
  • When an infinitive and conjugated verb are together, ne...pas usually wraps around the conjugated verb.
    • Je ne veux pas voler. - I do not want to steal.
  • ne pas can also go directly in front of the infinitive for a different meaning.
    • Je veux ne pas voler. - I want not to steal.
  • ne goes before any pronoun relating to the verb it affects.
    • Je ne l'ai pas volé. - I did not steal it.
    • Nous ne nous aimons pas. - We do not love each other.

Other negative expressions[edit]

ne...aucun(e) not any, none, no
ne...jamais never
ne...ni...ni neither...nor
ne...pas du tout not at all
ne...pas encore not yet
ne...personne nobody
ne...plus no longer
ne...guère hardly
ne...que only
ne...rien nothing
  • ne...personne wraps around the entire verb set.
    • Je ne l'ai donné à personne. - I did not give it to anyone.
    • Je ne veux le donner à personne. - I do not want to give it to anybody.
  • ne...ni...ni requires two objects, either direct or indirect, and comes before them.
    • Je ne l'ai donné ni à mon frère, ni à ma sœur. - I gave it neither to my brother nor my sister.
    • Je ne peux voir ni mon frère ni ma sœur. - I am able to see neither my brother nor my sister.
  • In ne...aucun(e), aucun(e) goes before an object.
    • Il n'a aucun ami. Aucun. - He has no friend. None.
    • Il n'a aucune feuille de papier. Aucune. - He has no sheet of paper. None.
  • Il n'a qu'une feuille de papier. - He has only one piece of paper.
  • Je ne peux guère voir mon frère et ma sœur - I can hardly see my brother and sister.

Spoken French[edit]

Now, the 'ne' sometimes disappears when one speaks. However, it is always used in written French and for formal conversations.

  • Je ne l'ai donné à personne -> Je l'ai donné à personne (I didn't give it to anyone)
  • Je ne sais pas -> Je sais pas (I don't know)

Summary[edit]

To say not, never, or other negative verbs, you have to 'sandwich' the negative words around a verb.

Example:

  • Il n'y a pas de cinéma. (meaning: "There is no cinema")
  • On ne peut jamais aller en boîte. (meaning: "You can never go partying")
  • Il n' y a rien à faire ici. (meaning: "There is nothing to do here")

If " ne " is before a vowel then it changes to " n' ".


Conjugations[edit]

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.
  • 2nd group: verbs ending in -ir, with the gerund ending in -issant.
  • 3rd group:
    • 1st section: verbs ending in -ir, with the gerund ending in -ant.
    • 2nd section: verbs ending in -oir.
    • 3rd section: verbs ending in -re.

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.

It is noteworthy that the verb aller is the only verb ending in -er belonging to the third group.

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.

However, in the simple 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 /ɛ/ eus /y/ avais /avɛ/ aurai /ɔʀe/ aie /ɛ/ eusse /ys/ aurais /ɔʀɛ/
tu as /a/ eus avais auras aies eusses aurais aie*
il/elle a /a/ eut avait aura ait eût aurait
nous avons /avɔ̃/ eûmes avions aurons ayons eussions aurions ayons*
vous avez /ave/ eûtes aviez aurez ayez eussiez auriez ayez*
ils/elles ont /ɔ̃/ eurent avaient auront aient eussent auraient

* 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

Expressing age[edit]

Avoir is also used to express age.

Tu as quel âge ? How old are you? lit: You have what age?
J'ai trente ans. I'm thirty (years old) lit: I have thirty years.

Interogitives[edit]

Besides using avoir affirmatively. You can also use it interrogatively. A small complication arises, in that without some help, the result does not sound very good. The use of an euphonic (pleasing to the ear) is used with vowels before the pronoun. Thus, the letter -t- is placed between the verb and the pronoun:

Ai-je? (Have I?)
As-tu? (Have you?) informal
A-t-il? (Has he?)
A-t-elle? (Has she?)
Avons nous? (Have we?)
Avez vous? (Have you?) formal
Ont ils? (Have they?) masculine
Ont elles? (Have they?) feminine

The use of liaison fullfils the euphonic for ""ont".

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)ʀ/; 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.

However, 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)ʀe/ sois /swa/ fusse /fys/ serais /s(ə)ʀɛ/
tu es /ɛ/ fus étais seras sois fusses serais sois*
il/elle est /ɛ/ fut était sera soit fût serait
nous sommes /sɔm/ fûmes étions serons soyons fussions serions soyons*
vous êtes /ɛt/ fûtes étiez serez soyez fussiez seriez soyez*
ils/elles sont /sɔ̃/ furent étaient seront soient fussent seraient

* Notice that 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 than 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[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 parle
/paʀl/
parlai
/paʀle/
parlais
/paʀlɛ/
parlerai
/paʀləʀe/
parle
/paʀl/
parlasse
/paʀlas/
parlerais
/paʀləʀɛ/
tu parles
/paʀl/
parlas
/paʀla/
parlais
/paʀlɛ/
parleras
/paʀləʀa/
parles
/paʀl/
parlasses
/paʀlas/
parlerais
/paʀləʀɛ/
parle
/paʀl/
il parle
/paʀl/
parla
/paʀla/
parlait
/paʀlɛ/
parlera
/paʀləʀa/
parle
/paʀl/
parlât
/paʀlɑ/
parlerait
/paʀləʀɛ/
nous parlons
/paʀlɔ̃/
parlâmes
/paʀlɑm/
parlions
/paʀljɔ̃/
parlerons
/paʀləʀɔ̃/
parlions
/paʀljɔ̃/
parlassions
/paʀlasjɔ̃/
parlerions
/paʀləʀjɔ̃/
parlons
/paʀlɔ̃/
vous parlez
/paʀle/
parlâtes
/paʀlɑt/
parliez
/paʀlje/
parlerez
/paʀləʀe/
parliez
/paʀlje/
parlassiez
/paʀlasje/
parleriez
/paʀləʀje/
parlez
/paʀle/
ils parlent
/paʀl/
parlèrent
/paʀlɛːʀ/
parlaient
/paʀlɛ/
parleront
/paʀləʀɔ̃/
parlent
/paʀl/
parlassent
/paʀlas/
parleraient
/paʀləʀɛ/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: parler /paʀle/
  • Present participle: parlant /paʀlɑ̃/
  • Gerundive: en parlant /ɑ̃ paʀlɑ̃/
  • Verbal adjective: parlant(s) /paʀlɑ̃/, parlante(s) /paʀlɑ̃t/
  • Past participle: parlé(e)(s) /paʀle/

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 ? », /paʀlɛʒ/, "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 ! », [paʀlzɑ̃], "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/; similarly, in -ger verbs, the g becomes ge before such endings, to indicate that it is pronounced /ʒ/.
  • In -oyer and -uyer verbs, the y becomes an i before endings that start with a silent e; in -ayer verbs, the writer may or may not change the y to an i before such endings. 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 -, -s, -. (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 choisis
/ʃwazi/
choisis
/ʃwazi/
choisissais
/ʃwazisɛ/
choisirai
/ʃwaziʀe/
choisisse
/ʃwazis/
choisisse
/ʃwazis/
choisirais
/ʃwaziʀɛ/
tu choisis
/ʃwazi/
choisis
/ʃwazi/
choisissais
/ʃwazisɛ/
choisiras
/ʃwaziʀa/
choisisses
/ʃwazis/
choisisses
/ʃwazis/
choisirais
/ʃwaziʀɛ/
choisis
/ʃwazi/
il choisit
/ʃwazi/
choisit
/ʃwazi/
choisissait
/ʃwazisɛ/
choisira
/ʃwaziʀa/
choisisse
/ʃwazis/
choisît
/ʃwazi/
choisirait
/ʃwaziʀɛ/
nous choisissons
/ʃwazisɔ̃/
choisîmes
/ʃwazim/
choisissions
/ʃwazisjɔ̃/
choisirons
/ʃwaziʀɔ̃/
choisissions
/ʃwazisjɔ̃/
choisissions
/ʃwazisjɔ̃/
choisirions
/ʃwaziʀjɔ̃/
choisissons
/ʃwazisɔ̃/
vous choisissez
/ʃwazise/
choisîtes
/ʃwazit/
choisissiez
/ʃwazisje/
choisirez
/ʃwaziʀe/
choisissiez
/ʃwazisje/
choisissiez
/ʃwazisje/
choisiriez
/ʃwaziʀje/
choisissez
/ʃwazise/
ils choisissent
/ʃwazis/
choisirent
/ʃwaziʀ/
choisissaient
/ʃwazisɛ/
choisiront
/ʃwaziʀɔ̃/
choisissent
/ʃwazis/
choisissent
/ʃwazis/
choisiraient
/ʃwaziʀɛ/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: choisir /ʃwaziʀ/
  • Present participle: choisissant /ʃwazisɑ̃/
  • Gerundive: en choisissant /ɑ̃ ʃwazisɑ̃/
  • Verbal adjective: choisissant(s) /ʃwazisɑ̃/, choisissante(s) /ʃwazisɑ̃t/
  • Past participle: choisi(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 /aiʀ/-).

Third Group[edit]

First Section (-ir verbs / gerund ending in -ant)[edit]

dormir, mentir, partir, sentir, servir, sortir

The verbs dormir, mentir, partir, sentir, servir and their derivatives do not take the -iss- infix. The effect of this is that they conjugate as -re verbs rather than -ir verbs, apart from the past participle which is still -i. Sortir and its derivatives are similar in their usual meanings of "to go out" etc., though in their legal senses they conjugate regularly as -ir verbs: les lois sortissent leurs effets (laws produce their effects); ce qui ressortit à… (what is under the jurisdiction of…). Partir serves as an example:

Partir[edit]

Partir "to leave"
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Simple Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je pars /paʀ/ partis /paʀti/ partais /paʀtɛ/ partirai /paʀtiʀe/ parte /paʀt/ partisse /paʀtis/ partirais /paʀtiʀɛ/
tu pars partis partais partiras partes partisses partirais pars
il part partit partait partira parte partît partirait
nous partons partîmes partions partirons partions partissions partirions partons
vous partez partîtes partiez partirez partiez partissiez partiriez partez
ils partent partirent partaient partiront partent partissent partiraient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: partir
  • Present participle: partant
  • Gerundive: en partant
  • Verbal adjective: partant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: parti(e)(s)

Similarly, dormir, mentir, sortir, sentir, servir are je dors, mens, sors, sens, sers /ʒ(ə) dɔʀ, mɑ̃, sɔʀ, sɑ̃, sɛʀ/ etc.

couvrir, offrir, ouvrir, souffrir

The verbs couvrir, offrir, ouvrir, souffrir and their derivatives are similar, but orthographically they differ slightly: they take the simple present endings of the -er verbs. In addition, their past participles end in -ert. Ouvrir will serve as an example:

Ouvrir[edit]

Ouvrir "to open"
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je ouvre /uvʀ/ ouvris ouvrais ouvrirai ouvre ouvrisse ouvrirais
tu ouvres ouvris ouvrais ouvriras ouvres ouvrisses ouvrirais ouvre
il ouvre ouvrit ouvrait ouvrira ouvre ouvrît ouvrirait
nous ouvrons ouvrîmes ouvrions ouvrirons ouvrions ouvrissions ouvririons ouvrons
vous ouvrez ouvrîtes ouvriez ouvrirez ouvriez ouvrissiez ouvririez ouvrez
ils ouvrent ouvrirent ouvraient ouvriront ouvrent ouvrissent ouvriraient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: ouvrir
  • Present participle: ouvrant
  • Gerundive: en ouvrant
  • Verbal adjective: ouvrant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: ouvert(s) /uvɛʀ/, ouverte(s) /uvɛʀt/

Venir[edit]

venir, tenir

The common verbs venir "to come" and tenir "to hold", as well as their derivatives,[2] change their stem vowel to a diphthong or nasal in much of their conjugations. Venir will serve as an example; for tenir, simply change the v to a t.

Venir "to come"
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je viens
/vjɛ̃/
vins
/vɛ̃/
venais
/v(ə)nɛ/
viendrai
/vjɛ̃dʀe/
vienne
/vjɛn/
vinsse
/vɛ̃s/
viendrais
/vjɛ̃dʀɛ/
tu viens
/vjɛ̃/
vins
/vɛ̃/
venais
/v(ə)nɛ/
viendras
/vjɛ̃dʀa/
viennes
/vjɛn/
vinsses
/vɛ̃s/
viendrais
/vjɛ̃dʀɛ/
viens
/vjɛ̃/
il vient
/vjɛ̃/
vint
/vɛ̃/
venait
/v(ə)nɛ/
viendra
/vjɛ̃dʀa/
vienne
/vjɛn/
vînt
/vɛ̃/
viendrait
/vjɛ̃dʀɛ/
nous venons
/v(ə)nɔ̃/
vînmes
/vɛ̃m/
venions
/v(ə)njɔ̃/
viendrons
/vjɛ̃dʀɔ̃/
venions
/v(ə)njɔ̃/
vinssions
/vjɛ̃sjɔ̃/
viendrions
/vjɛ̃dʀijɔ̃/
venons
/v(ə)nɔ̃/
vous venez
/v(ə)ne/
vîntes
/vɛ̃t/
veniez
/v(ə)nje/
viendrez
/vjɛ̃dʀe/
veniez
/v(ə)nje/
vinssiez
/vjɛ̃sje/
viendriez
/vjɛ̃dʀije/
venez
/v(ə)ne/
ils viennent
/vjɛn/
vinrent
/vɛ̃ʀ/
venaient
/v(ə)nɛ/
viendront
/vjɛ̃dʀɔ̃/
viennent
/vjɛn/
vinssent
/vɛ̃s/
viendraient
/vjɛ̃dʀɛ/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: venir /v(ə)niʀ/
  • Present participle: venant /v(ə)nɑ̃/
  • Gerundive: en venant
  • Verbal adjective: venant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: venu(e)(s) /v(ə)ny/

Auxiliary verb: être

acquérir, cueillir, saillir

Second section (-oir verbs)[edit]

Verbs ending in -oir tend to have stem changes, which makes them more irregular than the other conjugations. Many have stems ending in -v, which drops before a consonant or the vowel u. Others have stems ending in -l, which undergoes changes similar to the plural of French nouns ending in -l. In addition, the vowel of the stem tends to become oi /wa/ or eu /ø, œ/ when there is no vowel in the inflectional ending (much of the simple present and present subjunctive). They also differ from other verbs in that the vowel of both the simple past and the past participle is -u /y/.

The verbs voir "to see" and seoir "to suit" and their derivatives (prévoir, asseoir) inflect as -ir verbs, not as -oir verbs, as they have the vowel -i- in the past simple and subjunctive: je vis, j'assis, etc.

Pouvoir[edit]

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je peux, puis* pus pouvais pourrai puisse pusse pourrais
tu peux pus pouvais pourras puisses pusses pourrais peux
il peut put pouvait pourra puisse pût pourrait
nous pouvons pûmes pouvions pourrons puissions pussions pourrions pouvons
vous pouvez pûtes pouviez pourrez puissiez pussiez pourriez pouvez
ils peuvent purent pouvaient pourront puissent pussent pourraient

*In case of questions puis is used exclusively: puis-je venir? Can I come? The usage of puis in other cases is mannered.

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: pouvoir
  • Present participle: pouvant
  • Gerundive: en pouvant
  • Verbal adjective: pouvant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: pu(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: avoir

Recevoir[edit]

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je reçois reçus recevais recevrai reçoive reçusse recevrais
tu reçois reçus recevais recevras reçoives reçusses recevrais reçois
il reçoit reçut recevait recevra reçoive reçût recevrait
nous recevons reçûmes recevions recevrons recevions reçussions recevrions recevons
vous recevez reçûtes receviez recevrez receviez reçussiez recevriez recevez
ils reçoivent reçurent recevaient recevront reçoivent reçussent recevraient

Non-finite forms:

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

Auxiliary verb: avoir

  • Other verbs conjugated along the same model: concevoir, décevoir, percevoir, apercevoir.

Savoir[edit]

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je sais sus savais saurai sache susse saurais
tu sais sus savais sauras saches susses saurais sache*
il sait sut savait saura sache sût saurait
nous savons sûmes savions saurons sachions sussions saurions sachons*
vous savez sûtes saviez saurez sachiez sussiez sauriez sachez*
ils savent surent savaient sauront sachent sussent sauraient

* Notice that the imperative form uses the present subjunctive stem.

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: savoir
  • Present participle: sachant
  • Gerundive: en sachant
  • Verbal adjective: sachant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: su(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: avoir

Vouloir[edit]

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je veux voulus voulais voudrai veuille voulusse voudrais
tu veux voulus voulais voudras veuilles voulusses voudrais veuille
il veut voulut voulait voudra veuille voulût voudrait
nous voulons voulûmes voulions voudrons voulions voulussions voudrions veuillons
vous voulez voulûtes vouliez voudrez vouliez voulussiez voudriez veuillez
ils veulent voulurent voulaient voudront veuillent voulussent voudraient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: vouloir
  • Present participle: voulant
  • Gerundive: en voulant
  • Verbal adjective: voulant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: voulu(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: avoir

Third Section (-re verbs)[edit]

Orthographically, the -re verbs have the inflectional endings of the -ir verbs (singular -s, -s, -t in the simple present and past). However, unlike the -ir verbs, there is no suffix -iss- between the root and the inflection, except in the past subjunctive, which is identical to the -ir verbs. In addition, the vowel of the past participle is -u /y/ rather than -i.

Attendre[edit]

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
j’ attends
/atɑ̃/
attendis
/atɑ̃di/
attendais
/atɑ̃dɛ/
attendrai
/atɑ̃dʀe/
attende
/atɑ̃d/
attendisse
/atɑ̃dis/
attendrais
/atɑ̃dʀɛ/
tu attends
/atɑ̃/
attendis
/atɑ̃di/
attendais
/atɑ̃dɛ/
attendras
/atɑ̃dʀa/
attendes
/atɑ̃d/
attendisses
/atɑ̃dis/
attendrais
/atɑ̃dʀɛ/
attends
/atɑ̃/
il attend
/atɑ̃/
attendit
/atɑ̃di/
attendait
/atɑ̃dɛ/
attendra
/atɑ̃dʀa/
attende
/atɑ̃d/
attendît
/atɑ̃di/
attendrait
/atɑ̃dʀɛ/
nous attendons
/atɑ̃dɔ̃/
attendîmes
/atɑ̃dim/
attendions
/atɑ̃djɔ̃/
attendrons
/atɑ̃dʀɔ̃/
attendions
/atɑ̃djɔ̃/
attendissions
/atɑ̃disjɔ̃/
attendrions
/atɑ̃dʀijɔ̃/
attendons
/atɑ̃dɔ̃/
vous attendez
/atɑ̃de/
attendîtes
/atɑ̃dit/
attendiez
/atɑ̃dje/
attendrez
/atɑ̃dʀe/
attendiez
/atɑ̃dje/
attendissiez
/atɑ̃disje/
attendriez
/atɑ̃dʀije/
attendez
/atɑ̃de/
ils attendent
/atɑ̃d/
attendirent
/atɑ̃diʀ/
attendaient
/atɑ̃dɛ/
attendront
/atɑ̃dʀɔ̃/
attendent
/atɑ̃d/
attendissent
/atɑ̃dis/
attendraient
/atɑ̃dʀɛ/

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: attendre /atɑ̃dʀ/
  • Present participle: attendant /atɑ̃dɑ̃/
  • Gerundive: en attendant /an atɑ̃dɑ̃/
  • Verbal adjective: attendant(s) /atɑ̃dɑ̃/, attendante(s) /atɑ̃dɑ̃t/
  • Past participle: attendu(e)(s) /atɑ̃dy/

Auxiliary verb: avoir (descendre uses être)

  • If the verb stem ends with a t or d (as in attend or bat), the -t inflection of the third person simple present drops, as here. However, elsewhere it is retained: rompreil rompt.
  • Battre, mettre and all verbs on -aindre or -eindre are irregular

Dire[edit]

to say, talk

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je dis dis disais dirai dise disse dirais
tu dis dis disais diras dises disses dirais dis
il dit dit disait dira dise dît dirait
nous disons dîmes disions dirons disions dissions dirions disons
vous dites dîtes disiez direz disiez dissiez diriez dites
ils disent dirent disaient diront disent dissent diraient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: dire
  • Present participle: disant
  • Gerundive: en disant
  • Verbal adjective: disant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: dit(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: avoir

Prendre[edit]

to take

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je prends pris prenais prendrai prenne prisse prendrais
tu prends pris prenais prendras prennes prisses prendrais prends
il prend prit prenait prendra prenne prît prendrait
nous prenons prîmes prenions prendrons prenions prissions prendrions prenons
vous prenez prîtes preniez prendrez preniez prissiez prendriez prenez
ils prennent prirent prenaient prendront prennent prissent prendraient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: prendre
  • Present participle: prenant
  • Gerundive: en prenant
  • Verbal adjective: prenant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: pris(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: avoir

  • apprendre, comprendre, entreprendre, reprendre, and surprendre follow the same pattern

Faire[edit]

to do, make

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je fais fis faisais ferai fasse fisse ferais
tu fais fis faisais feras fasses fisses ferais fais
il fait fit faisait fera fasse fît ferait
nous faisons fîmes faisions ferons fassions fissions ferions faisons
vous faites fîtes faisiez ferez fassiez fissiez feriez faites
ils font firent faisaient feront fassent fissent feraient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: faire
  • Present participle: faisant
  • Gerundive: en faisant
  • Verbal adjective: faisant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: fait(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: avoir

  • défaire, refaire, and satisfaire follow the same pattern.

Naître[edit]

to be born

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je nais naquis naissais naîtrai naisse naquisse naîtrais
tu nais naquis naissais naîtras naisses naquisses naîtrais nais
il naît naquit naissait naîtra naisse naquît naîtrait
nous naissons naquîmes naissions naîtrons naissions naquissions naîtrions naissons
vous naissez naquîtes naissiez naîtrez naissiez naquissiez naîtriez naissez
ils naissent naquirent naissaient naîtront naissent naquissent naîtraient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: naître
  • Present participle: naissant
  • Gerundive: en naissant
  • Verbal adjective: naisant(e)(s)
  • Past participle: né(e)(s)

Auxiliary verb: être

Aller[edit]

The verb aller "to go" has the unique quality of having a first group ending with 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- /iʀ/. 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 /iʀe/ aille /aj/ allasse /alas/ irais /iʀɛ/
tu vas /va/ allas allais iras ailles allasses irais va
il 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 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 e
tu es is s (x3) es5   es isses es
il e it t (d4) e5   e isse e
nous ons issons ons ons   ions issions ions
vous ez issez ez 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).
  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.
  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...

References[edit]

  1. Le nouveau Bescherelle: L'art de conjuger", 1972, pp. 10
  2. Maintenir, advenir, contrevenir, convenir, devenir, intervenir, parvenir, provenir, revenir, se souvenir, survenir


Verb tenses sorted by type[edit]

Simple tenses[edit]

Present indicative[edit]

Usage of the Present[edit]

When you want to talk about something that's happening now.


Formation of the Present[edit]

To form the present tense, there are seven categories of verbs that you need to know about, sorted by their endings, and if they are regular (follow the rules) or irregular (have their own rules).

They are:

  • -er verbs
  • -ir verbs
  • -re verbs

and

  • irregular -er verbs
  • irregular -ir verbs
  • irregular -re verbs
  • really really irregular verbs

Regular Verbs[edit]

Regular -er Verbs[edit]

  • For non stem-changing regular -er verbs, the stem is determined by removing the final -er.
  • After determining the stem, conjugate by adding the appropriate endings.

Subject

Ending

je

-e

tu

-es

il

-e

nous

-ons

vous

-ez

ils

-ent

Conjugation of Regular -ir Verbs[edit]

  • For regular -ir verbs, the stem is determined by removing the final -ir.
  • After determining the stem, conjugate by adding the appropriate endings.


Subject

Ending

je

-is

tu

-is

il

-it

nous

-issons

vous

-issez

ils

-issent

Conjugation of Regular -re Verbs[edit]

  • For regular -re verbs, the stem is determined by removing the final -re.
  • After determining the stem, conjugate by adding the appropriate endings.


Subject

Ending

je

-s

tu

-s

il

-

nous

-ons

vous

-ez

ils

-ent

Irregular Conjugations[edit]

  • Several verbs are irregularly conjugated in the present.
  • Some verbs can be categorized by the general pattern they follow, while others are completely irregular.
  • Irregular verbs are too numerous to be entirely provided here. Only some common irregular verbs will be shown.

Stem Changing -er Verbs[edit]

  • Several French verbs are stem-changing; the endings for conjugation basically remain the same, but slight changes occur with the stem.
  • One may divide the category of stem-changing verbs into two subcategories: verbs whose stems change only in the nous form and verbs whose stems change only in the je, tu, il, and ils forms.

-cer Verbs

  • To conjugate a -cer verb in the nous form, change the c to a ç.
  • Conjugations in the je, tu, il, vous, and ils forms remain unaffected.

-ger Verbs

  • To conjugate a -ger verb in the nous form, add an e between the final g and the ending ons.
  • Conjugations in the je, tu, il, vous, and ils forms remain unaffected.

-ayer, -oyer, and -uyer Verbs

  • To conjugate an -ayer, -oyer, or -uyer verb in the je, tu, il, and ils forms, change the y to i.
  • Conjugations in the nous and vous forms remain unaffected.

-eler Verbs

  • To conjugate an -eler verb in the je, tu, il, and ils forms, change the l to ll.
  • Conjugations in the nous and vous forms remain unaffected.

-eter Verbs

  • To conjugate an -eter verb in the je, tu, il, and ils forms, change the t to tt.
  • Conjugations in the nous and vous forms remain unaffected.

Verbs with e in the second to last syllable

  • To conjugate a verb with an e in the second to last syllable in the je, tu, il, and ils forms, change the e to è.
  • Conjugations in the nous and vous forms remain unaffected.

Verbs with é in the second to last syllable

  • To conjugate a verb with an é in the second to last syllable in the je, tu, il, and ils forms, change the é to è.
  • Conjugations in the nous and vous forms remain unaffected.

Irregular -ir Verb Patterns[edit]

Couvrir

  • The verbs couvrir, cueillir, offrir, ouvrir, and souffrir, follow this pattern.
  • The stem is determined by removing the final -ir.
  • Although the verbs are -ir verbs, they are treated like regular -er verbs for the purpose of conjugation. Thus, they utilize the regular endings for -er verbs.

Dormir

  • The verbs dormir, mentir, partir, sentir, servir, and sortir follow this pattern.
  • For conjugating the plural forms (nous, vous, ils), the stem is determined by removing the final -ir.
  • For conjugating the singular forms (je, tu, il), the stem is the same as the plural stem, except that the last letter of the plural stem is removed in addition to the -ir.
  • The verb ending pattern for these verbs is as follows:


Subject

Ending

je

-s

tu

-s

il

-t

nous

-ons

vous

-ez

ils

-ent

Irregular -re Verb Patterns[edit]

-aindre, -eindre, and -oindre Verbs

  • Verbs ending with -aindre, -eindre, and -oindre follow this pattern.
  • For conjugating the singular forms (je, tu, il), the stem is determined by removing the final -dre.
  • For conjugating the plural forms (nous, vous, ils), the stem is the same as the singular stem, except that a g is immediately after the final i and before the final n.
  • The verb ending pattern for these verbs is as follows:


Subject

Ending

je

-s

tu

-s

il

-t

nous

-ons

vous

-ez

ils

-ent

Completely Irregular Verbs[edit]

Aller

Subject

Conjugation

je

vais

tu

vas

il

va

nous

allons

vous

allez

ils

vont

S'asseoir

Subject

Conjugation

je m'

assieds

tu t'

assieds

il s'

assied

nous nous

asseyons

vous vous

asseyez

ils s'

asseyent

Avoir

Subject

Conjugation

j'

ai

tu

as

il

a

nous

avons

vous

avez

ils

ont

Boire

Subject

Conjugation

je

bois

tu

bois

il

boit

nous

buvons

vous

buvez

ils

boivent

Conduire

Subject

Conjugation

je

conduis

tu

conduis

il

conduit

nous

conduisons

vous

conduisez

ils

conduisent

Connaître

Subject

Conjugation

je

connais

tu

connais

il

connaît

nous

connaissons

vous

connaissez

ils

connaissent

Croire

Subject

Conjugation

je

crois

tu

crois

il

croit

nous

croyons

vous

croyez

ils

croient

Devoir

Subject

Conjugation

je

dois

tu

dois

il

doit

nous

devons

vous

devez

ils

doivent

Dire

Subject

Conjugation

je

dis

tu

dis

il

dit

nous

disons

vous

dites

ils

disent

Écrire

Subject

Conjugation

j'

écris

tu

écris

il

écrit

nous

écrivons

vous

écrivez

ils

écrivent

Être

Subject

Conjugation

je

suis

tu

es

il

est

nous

sommes

vous

êtes

ils

sont

Faillir

Subject

Conjugation

je

faillis / faux

tu

faillis / faux

il

faillit / faut

nous

faillissons / faillons

vous

faillissez / faillez

ils

faillissent / faillent

Faire

Subject

Conjugation

je

fais

tu

fais

il

fait

nous

faisons

vous

faites

ils

font

Falloir (This verb can only be used in the impersonnal form)

Subject

Conjugation

il

faut

Lire

Subject

Conjugation

je

lis

tu

lis

il

lit

nous

lisons

vous

lisez

ils

lisent

Mettre

Subject

Conjugation

je

mets

tu

mets

il

met

nous

mettons

vous

mettez

ils

mettent

Mourir

Subject

Conjugation

je

meure

tu

meures

il

meurt

nous

mourons

vous

mourez

ils

meurent

Naître

Subject

Conjugation

je

nais

tu

nais

il

naît

nous

naissons

vous

naissez

ils

naissent

Prendre

Subject

Conjugation

je

prends

tu

prends

il

prend

nous

prenons

vous

prenez

ils

prennent

Rire

Subject

Conjugation

je

ris

tu

ris

il

rit

nous

rions

vous

riez

ils

rient

Savoir

Subject

Conjugation

je

sais

tu

sais

il

sait

nous

savons

vous

savez

ils

savent

Sortir

Subject

Conjugation

je

sors

tu

sors

il

sort

nous

sortons

vous

sortez

ils

sortent

Venir

Subject

Conjugation

je

viens

tu

viens

il

vient

nous

venons

vous

venez

ils

viennent

Vivre

Subject

Conjugation

je

vis

tu

vis

il

vit

nous

vivons

vous

vivez

ils

vivent

Voir

Subject

Conjugation

je

vois

tu

vois

il

voit

nous

voyons

vous

voyez

ils

voient

Vouloir

Subject

Conjugation

je

veux

tu

veux

il

veut

nous

voulons

vous

voulez

ils

veulent

Imperfect[edit]

Imparfait in French

Usage of the Imperfect[edit]

The imperfect is used in French under several different circumstances. The imperfect is used:

  • To refer to previously ongoing and repeated events that are now completely finished.
  • To express an action that happened often in the past, such as a habit that one has grown out of. For example, "I used to eat a kiwi while watching the news." is in French, "Je mangeais un kiwi en regardant les informations."
  • In describing the past, including things such as: time, location, weather, age, physical appearance, physical and emotional conditions or states, attitudes and desires and other mental experiences.
  • Actions that occurred while something else was happening.
  • To compare and contrast events in the present with events in the past.
  • To talk about the emotions or abstract qualities of a person/thing in the past or to discuss an irritating quality or subject.
  • To suggest or ask certain "forceful" questions such as, "Si on faisait une promenade?"
  • When phrases like I used to do... and I would do... are used in English.

Formation of the Imperfect[edit]

Imperfect Stem[edit]

  • For all verbs except for être, the imperfect stem is determined by removing the -ons from the nous form of the present indicative of the verb.
  • Certain verbs (-cer and -ger verbs) are stem-changing in the nous form of the present indicative; these are stem-changing the imperfect also. The stem change that applies in the present indicative is retained when conjugating the je, tu, il, and ils forms of the imperfect. That stem change is reversed when conjugating the nous and vous forms of the imperfect.
  • For être, the imperfect stem is ét-.

Imperfect Ending[edit]

  • To conjugate in the imperfect, add the appropriate ending to the imperfect stem.


Subject

Ending

je

-ais

tu

-ais

il

-ait

nous

-ions

vous

-iez

ils

-aient

Examples[edit]

Aller

Subject

Ending

j'

allais

tu

allais

il

allait

nous

allions

vous

alliez

ils

allaient

Être

Subject

Ending

j'

étais

tu

étais

il

était

nous

étions

vous

étiez

ils

étaient

Exceptions[edit]

Manger

Subject

Ending

je

mangeais

tu

mangeais

il

mangeait

nous

mangions

vous

mangiez

ils

mangeaient

Commencer

Subject

Ending

je

commençais

tu

commençais

il

commençait

nous

commencions

vous

commenciez

ils

commençaient

Exercises[edit]

Translate the following sentences into English: -Je jouais au foot quand javais douze ans, mais maintenant je nage parfois. Quand javais douze ans jétais en forme. Une fois, le douze décembre, je me suis cassé la jambe, et je ne jouais plus au foot. Quelle tristesse! -Quand j'avais dix ans, je mangeais beaucoup de frites.


Past historic[edit]

Usage of the Simple Past[edit]

The simple past is mostly a literary tense, used in fairy tales, and perhaps newspapers. It is one that native French students are expected to recognize but not use.

Formation of the Simple Past[edit]

To conjugate in this tense, one finds the stem and appends the following, as according to the table:


Subject

Add Ending

Conjugated Verb

JE

-ai

dansai

Tu

-as

dansas

Il / Elle / On

-a

dansa

Nous

-âmes

dansâmes

Vous

-âtes

dansâtes

Ils / Elles

-èrent

dansèrent

It should be noted that être, along with a few other verbs are consistent in their irregularities in the passé simple as well.


Simple Past Stems[edit]

  • For normal verbs (not irregular);

-er, changes it to é (manger = mangé)
-ir, take off the r (choisir = choisi)
-re, take off the re and add a u

  • Certain verbs (-cer and -ger verbs) are stem-changing in the nous form of the present indicative; these are stem-changing the simple past also. The stem change that applies in the present indicative is retained when conjugating the je, tu, il, nous, and vous forms of the simple past. That stem change is reversed when conjugating the ils form of the simple past.
  • For irregular verbs whose past participle end in -u, (but not for regular -re verbs, whose past participle also end in -u), that past participle is also the simple past stem.
  • Some verbs have irregular simple past stems.

Irregular Stems

Verb

Simple Past stem

s'asseoir

s'ass-

conduire

conduis-

dire

d-

écrire

écriv-

faire

f-

joindre

joign-

mettre

m-

naître

naqu-

peindre

peign-

prendre

pr-

rire

r-

voir

v-

Simple Past Endings[edit]

  • To conjugate in the past tense, add the appropriate ending to the past participle. There is one set of endings for irregular verbs whose past participles end in -u ("irregular endings"), and another set for all other verbs ("regular endings").

Regular Endings

Subject

Ending

je

-ai

tu

-as

il

-a

nous

-âmes

vous

-âtes

ils

-èrent

Irregular Endings

Subject

Ending

je

-s

tu

-s

il

-t

nous

-^mes

vous

-^tes

ils

-rent

Irregular Conjugations[edit]

  • The conjugations for être, mourir, and venir are entirely irregular, and are not based on past simple stems or endings.

Être

Subject

Conjugation

je

fus

tu

fus

il

fut

nous

fûmes

vous

fûtes

ils

furent

Mourir

Subject

Conjugation

je

mourus

tu

mourus

il

mourut

nous

mourûmes

vous

mourûtes

ils

moururent

Venir

Subject

Conjugation

je

vins

tu

vins

il

vint

nous

vînmes

vous

vîntes

ils

vinrent


Future[edit]

Usage of the Future[edit]

One uses the future tense when referring to an action, certain to occur, in the future. In a time ahead of now.

One may also use aller in the present tense in conjunction with aller or another verb in infinitive form, to refer to the future. However it is not the future tense.

For example,

Il va aller à l'école

Or

Je vais dormir

Holds generally the same meaning as,

Il ira à l'école

Or

Je dormirai

However, the former is not in the future tense. Also, the usage of "aller" generally signifies an action to occur in the very near future, where as future tense refers to any time in the future.

Formation of the Future[edit]

Future Stems[edit]

  • For (regular and irregular) -er or -ir verbs, the infinitive is the future stem.
  • For (regular and irregular) -re verbs, the infinitive minus the final e is the future stem.
  • Exception: Verbs that are stem-changing in the present are stem-changing in the future also.
  • Exception: Certain irregular verbs have irregular future stems. (Not all irregular verbs have irregular future stems).

Stem Changes

Verb

Change From

Change To

-ler verbs

ler

ller

-ter verbs

ter

tter

-yer verbs

yer

ier

verbs with an e in the penultimate syllable

e in penultimate syllable

è

verbs with é in the penultimate syllable

é in penultimate syllable

è

Exceptions to the Rule[edit]

verb

future stem

aller

ir-

avoir

aur-

devoir

devr-

envoyer

enverr-

être

ser-

faire

fer-

pleuvoir

pleuvr-

pouvoir

pourr-

savoir

saur-

venir

viendr-

voir

verr-

vouloir

voudr-

Future Endings[edit]

  • To conjugate in the future, add the appropriate ending to the future stem.


Subject

Ending

je

-ai

tu

-as

il

-a

nous

-ons

vous

-ez

ils

-ont

To conjugate a verb in the futur simple, one takes the infinitive and appends the following, as according to the table:


Subject

Add Ending

Conjugated Verb

Je

-ai

réussirai

Tu

-as

réussiras

Il / Elle / On

-a

réussira

Nous

-ons

réussirons

Vous

-ez

réussirez

Ils / Elles

-ont

réussiront


Present conditional[edit]

Usage of the Conditional (Present)[edit]

The conditional tense is used when:

  • a hypothetical situation is described. In which case the structure "Si + l'imparfait, le conditionnel" is used.
e.g. If I saw (or If I were to see) her, I would not recognize her. - Si je la voyais, je ne la reconnaîtrais pas.
  • a polite request needs to be made:
e.g. I would like a small salad, please. - Je voudrais (or J'aimerais) une petite salade, s'il vous plaît.
  • an event that had not happened was described:
e.g. He said Marie would come. - Il a dit que Marie viendrait.

Formation of the Conditional[edit]

Conditional Stems[edit]

  • For (regular and irregular) -er or -ir verbs, the infinitive is the conditional stem.
  • For (regular and irregular) -re verbs, the infinitive minus the final e is the conditional stem.
  • Exception: Verbs that are stem-changing in the present are stem-changing in the conditional also.
  • Exception: Certain irregular verbs have irregular conditional stems. (Not all irregular verbs have conditional stems).
  • Note: In a word, the conditional stem is the same with the future one.

Stem Changes

Verb

Change From

Change To

-ler verbs

ler

ller

-ter verbs

ter

tter

-yer verbs

yer

ier

verbs with an e in the penultimate syllable

e in penultimate syllable

è

verbs with é in the penultimate syllable

é in penultimate syllable

è

Irregular Stems

verb

future stem

aller

ir-

avoir

aur-

devoir

devr-

envoyer

enverr-

être

ser-

faire

fer-

pleuvoir

pleuvr-

pouvoir

pourr-

savoir

saur-

venir

viendr-

voir

verr-

vouloir

voudr-

Conditional Endings[edit]

  • To conjugate in the conditional, add the appropriate ending to the future stem.


Subject

Ending

je

-ais

tu

-ais

il

-ait

nous

-ions

vous

-iez

ils

-aient

Present subjunctive[edit]

The subjunctive in French is used to express doubt, desire, surprise, judgment, necessity, possibility, opinions, and emotions. It usually follows the word "que." The conjugations for the subjunctive mood for regular verbs are as follows:

Take the ils form of the verb, drop the -ent and add the following:

je - e

tu - es

il - e

nous - ions

vous - iez

ils - ent

Some irregular verb conjugations:


infinitive que je/j' que tu qu'il que nous que vous qu'ils
avoir aie aies ait ayons ayez aient
être sois sois soit soyons soyez soient
infinitive que je/j' que nous
aller aille allions
boire boive buvions
conduire conduise conduisions
connaître connaisse connassions
courir coure courions
couvrir couvre couvrions
croire croie croyions
devoir doive devions
dire dise disions
dormir dorme dormions
écrire écrive écrivions
envoyer envoie envoyions
faire fasse fassions
lire lise lisions
mettre mette mettions
offrir offre offrions
ouvrir ouvre ouvrions
partir parte partions
pleuvoir pleuve pleuvions
pouvoir puisse pouvions
prendre prenne prenions
recevoir reçoive recevions
rire rie riions
savoir sache sachions
servir serve servions
sortir sorte sortions
tenir tienne tenions
traduire tranduise tranduisions
venir vienne venions
voir voie voyions
vouloir veuille voulions

Imperfect subjunctive[edit]

Usage of the Imperfect Subjunctive[edit]

The subjunctive imperfect is very rarely employed in French, it is not common to use it in literature. It can in all instances be replaced by the subjunctive present. The subjunctive imperfect may be employed in any instance in which the subjunctive is requires, so long as it is in the past. For example: "Il fallait que le garçon allât à l'école". Fallait (falloir) is followed by the subjunctive. The subjunctive imperfect however is not used by French speakers, it is viewed as archaic. The previously given example would usually be expressed by "Il fallait que le garçon aille à l'école".

Formation of the Imperfect Subjunctive[edit]

Imperfect Subjunctive Stems[edit]

  • For regular -er verbs, the imperfect subjunctive stem is the conjugation of the verb in the simple past for the il form.
  • For regular -ir verbs, regular -re verbs, and irregular verbs, the imperfect subjunctive stem is the conjugation of the verb in the simple past for the il form, after removing the final t in that conjugation.

Imperfect Subjunctive Endings[edit]

  • To conjugate in the imperfect subjunctive, add the appropriate ending to the imperfect subjunctive stem. There is one set of endings for irregular verbs whose past participles end in -u ("irregular endings"), and another set for all other verbs ("regular endings").

Imperfect Subjunctive Endings

Subject

Ending

je

-sse

tu

-sses

il

-^t

nous

-ssions

vous

-ssiez

ils

-ssent

Irregular Conjugations[edit]

  • The verb venir is irregular, but only in the il form.

Irregular Endings

Subject

Ending

je

vinsse

tu

vinsses

il

vînt

nous

vinssions

vous

vinssiez

ils

vinssent

Perfect tenses[edit]

Present perfect[edit]

The passé composé is a perfect tense, and is therefore composed of an auxiliary verb and a past participle. With most verbs, that auxililary verb is avoir.

Meaning[edit]

In English, verbs conjugated in the passé composé literally means have/has ____ed. While there is a simple past tense in French, it is only used in formal writing, so verbs conjugated in the passé composé can also be used to mean the English simple tense.

  • For example, the passé composé form of parler (to speak), [avoir] parlé, literally means has/have spoken, but also means spoke. In French, the passé composé covers "I ate", "I did eat" and "I have eaten" - J'ai mangé.

When to use[edit]

You use the passé composé when you want to express that:

  1. Something has been completed in the past.
  2. Something was done a certain amount of times in the past. (if the something was ongoing, the imparfait should be used)
  3. A series of somethings was completed in the past.

Formation[edit]

Introduction[edit]

To conjugate a verb in the passé composé, the auxiliary (or helping) verb, usually avoir, is conjugated in the present indicative and the past participle is then added. It is important to remember that there is only *one* verb in the passé composé. While the past participle looks like a verb, it is not - it functions more like an adjective. This is important to remember because when you negate in the passé composé, you negate the only verb, which is the auxiliary verb (ex. "Je n'ai pas mangé"; "I have not eaten"). This works exactly the same way in English - the only verb is the auxiliary verb, which is also the only thing negated in English ("I have not eaten").

Formation Summary[edit]

The compound past is a compound tense- it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb ("helper verb") and the past participle of the verb one seeks to use in this tense.

To form the passé composé, you need to take the auxiliary verb - either avoir (or être for irregular verbs), then make it agree with the subject of the sentence, like in the present indicative tense. We then take the past participle of the verb, and stick that on the end. Every verb has one past participle that does not change (there are some exceptions, as one will learn later). To find the past participle, the stem of the infinitive must be determined. To do so, drop the -er, -ir, -oir or -re, as usual.

If we want to make the statement negative, for example if we didn't do something in the past, we must always put the negative structure such as ne ... pas around the auxiliary verb, immediately before the past participle. For example, "Je ne peux pas",.

Also, reflexive or pronomial verbs must be conjugated with être under most circumstances. For example, the verb "se reflechir" is conjugated in the first person singular by "Je me suis reflechi,".

Auxiliary Verb Formation[edit]

  • The auxiliary verb is always either avoir or être.
  • The tense of the verb depends upon the tense that avoir or être is conjugated in.
    • When the auxiliary verb is conjugated in the passé composé, for example, the auxiliary verb is conjugated in the present indicative.
      • J'ai fini. - I have finished.


Auxiliary Verb - Être[edit]

Conjugate être in the present indicative.

je suis nous sommes
tu es vous êtes
il est ils sont

Past Participle Formation[edit]

  • -er verbs - replace -er with é
  • -ir verbs - replace -ir with i
  • -re verbs - replace -re with u
  • irregular verbs - must be memorized
Formation of the Past Participle
Verb Group Infinitive Stem Past Participle
-er verbs jouer jou joué
-ir verbs finir fin fini
-re verbs répondre répond répondu

Avoir + Past Participle[edit]

J'ai joué. I have played Nous avons joué. We have played.
Tu as joué. You have played. Vous avez joué. You have played.
Il/Elle/On a joué. He has played. Ils/Elles ont joué. They have played.


Être + Past Participle[edit]

Je suis allé(e). I went. Nous sommes allé(e)s. we went
Tu es allé(e). You went. Vous êtes allé(e)(s).* you (all) went
Il/On est allé. He went. Ils sont allés. they went
Elle est allée. She went. Elles sont allées. they went
  • Note that for the starred vous form, the S (which is always added for nous and ils/elles) is not added if the vous is simply denoting the singular, formal you.

Past Participle Agreement with Preceding Direct Objects[edit]

The past participle must agree with the direct object of a clause in gender and plurality if the direct object goes before the verb.

  • the direct object is masculine singular - no change
    • J'ai fini le jeu. - I have finished the game.
    • Je l'ai fini. - I have finished it.
  • the direct object is feminine singular - add an e to the past participle
    • J'ai fini la tâche. - I have finished the task.
    • Je l'ai finie. - I have finished it.
  • the direct object is masculine plural - add an s to the past participle.
    • J'ai fini les jeux. - I have finished the games.
    • Je les ai finis. - I have finished them.
  • the direct object is feminine plural - add an es to the past participle.
    • J'ai fini les tâches. - I have finished the tasks.
    • Je les ai finies. - I have finished them.

Avoir ou Être?[edit]

In most circumstances, the auxiliary verb is avoir. However, with certain verbs, the auxiliary verb is être. This occurs under two different circumstances:

1. Reflexive verbs always take être.

This distinguishes them from verbs with preceding objects pronouns.
Reflexive Verbs vs. Verbs with Preceding Object Pronouns
Je me suis parlé. I spoke to myself.
Il m'a parlé. He spoke to me.

2. The House of Être: Most verbs form the passé composé with avoir, however there are a small number of verbs that are always conjugated with être. Seventeen special intransitive verbs take être (four of which can also take avoir, as explained below).

Verbs that take ÊTRE in the Passé Composé
Devenir To become Je suis devenu(e) normalien(ne). I became an Ivy League student.
Revenir To come back Je suis revenu(e) dans cette salle pour chercher mon cahier. I came back to this classroom to find my notebook.
Mourir To die Je suis mort(e) à cause des examens.
Il est mort en 1917.
I died because of my exams.
He died in 1917.
Rentrer To re-enter or go home Je suis rentré(e) de l'école.
Il est rentré tôt de l'école.
I came home from school.
He came back early from school.
Sortir* To go out Je suis sorti(e) avec des amis. I went out with some friends.
Venir To come Je suis venu(e) vous parler.
Je suis venu(e) en France.
I came to speak to you.
I came to France.
Aller To go Je suis allé(e) à la cantine.
Je suis allé(e) au cinéma.
I went to the cafeteria.
I went to the cinema.
Naître To be born (*not* a passive verb in French) Je suis né(e) le 1 janvier.
Je suis né(e) en octobre.
I was born on January 1st.
I was born in October.
Descendre* To go/take down Je suis descendu(e) du vélo.
Il est descendu du train.
I got down from the bike.
He got out of the train.
Entrer To enter Je suis entré(e) par la porte.
Je suis entré(e) dans ma chambre.
I came in by the door.
I entered in my (bed)room.
Retourner To return Je suis retourné(e) au café le lendemain.
Il est retourné au restaurant.
I went back to the café the next day.
He returned to the restaurant.
Tomber To fall Je suis tombé(e) de ma chaise.
Je suis tombé(e) dans la piscine.
I fell out of my seat.
I fell into the pool.
Rester To stay (*not* to rest) Je suis resté(e) chez moi samedi soir.
Je suis resté(e) à la maison.
I stayed home on Saturday night.
I stayed home.
Arriver To arrive Je suis arrivé(e) en cours à l'heure.
Le train est arrivé.
I arrived in class on time.
The train has arrived.
Monter* To mount, to put up, to go up, to get on Je suis monté dans la car de l'école. I got on the school bus.
Passer (par)* To pass (by) Je suis passé par la bibliothèque.
Il est passé devant la maison.
I passed by the library.
It happened in front of the house.
Partir To leave Je suis parti(e) pour étudier en France.
Elle est partie travailler.
I left to go study in France.
She left to go to work.
A useful mnemonic to help you remember these is "DR.MRS.VANDERTRAMPP". Because all of these verbs except mourir, naître and rester are also verbs of movement (but be careful! not all movement verbs take être!), many also find it useful to draw a house with the verbs being acted out ("The House of Être").

2.a. Exceptions Note that there are four verbs above that are followed by a star (sortir, descendre, monter, passer). When a direct object is used with these verbs, the auxiliary verb becomes avoir.

Être Verbs that take Avoir when they are followed by a Direct Object
SORTIR (être) Je suis sorti(e) hier soir. I went out last night.
SORTIR (avoir) J'ai sorti le lit de ma chambre. I took the bed out of my room.
DESCENDRE (être) Je suis descendu(e) dans l'ascenseur. I came down in the elevator.
DESCENDRE (avoir) J'ai descendu le criminel. I brought down the criminal.
DESCENDRE (avoir) J'ai descendu le tableau du mur. I took down the painting from the wall.
MONTER (être) Je suis monté par l'escalier. I came up by the stairs.
MONTER (avoir) Mon chien a monté un autre chien, le cochon.
Je suis monté(e) au sommet.
My dog mounted the other dog, the pig.
I climbed to the top.
PASSER (être) Je suis passé par la Tour Eiffel quand je me baladais dans le parc. I passed by the Eiffel Tower when I was walking in the park.
PASSER (avoir) J'ai passé mon examen de maths. I took my math test. (NB: to pass an exam is réussir; to take an exam, use passer)

Pluperfect of the indicative[edit]

In French the pluperfect is called le plus-que-parfait. In English, it is also called the more than perfect.

Formation[edit]

  • The pluperfect is a compound tense - it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle of the verb one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the imperfect.
  • The past participle is added immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, immediately before the past participle.
  • All past participle agreement rules that apply to composed tenses apply to the pluperfect.

Usage[edit]

The pluperfect is used to describe a past action that occurred before a second past action that is in the passé composé or imparfait.

  • Elle était vieille, mais elle avait été jeune. - She was old, but she had been young.
  • Je l'aurais aidé si j'avais su. - I would've helped him if I had known.
  • J'étais parti(e) quand tu m'as téléphoné. - I had already left when you called (me).

Pluperfect subjunctive[edit]

Usage of the Pluperfect Subjunctive[edit]

The French pluperfect subjunctive is the least common literary tense - it's the literary equivalent of the past subjunctive.

Like all literary tenses, the pluperfect subjunctive is used only in literature, historical writings, and other very formal writing, so it is important to be able to recognize it but chances are that you will never in your life need to conjugate it.

Formation of the Pluperfect Subjunctive[edit]

  • The pluperfect subjunctive is a compound tense- it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle of the verb one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the imperfect subjunctive.
  • The past participle is added immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, immediately before the past participle.


Past anterior[edit]

Usage of the Past Anterior[edit]

  • The past anterior is used for actions completely terminated before the main past action. It translates as to have done something (before doing something else). Ex: I had gone to the store before I picked him up.

Formation of the Past Anterior[edit]

  • The past anterior is a compound tense- it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the passé simple.
  • The past participle is added immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, not the past participle.

Future anterior[edit]

Usage[edit]

This is used in a sentence when there is something in a future tense, but this action is also in the future, but before the other future. This is called the "futur anterieur" in French.

Formation[edit]

  • The future anterior is a compound tense—it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the future indicative.
  • The past participle is added immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, not the past participle.


Past conditional[edit]

Usage of the Past Conditional[edit]

Past conditional is used to refer to an event that could have taken place in the past. Eg. "If he had not got hungry, we would have gone further."

Formation of the Past Conditional[edit]

  • The past conditional is a compound tense- it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the present conditional.
  • The past participle is placed immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, not the past participle.

Past subjunctive[edit]

Usage of the Past Subjunctive[edit]

Formation of the Past Subjunctive[edit]

  • The past subjunctive is a compound tense- it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the present subjunctive.
  • The past participle is added immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, not the past participle.

Perfect tense components[edit]

Present participle[edit]

Formation[edit]

Replace the -ons ending of a verb conjugated in the first person plural in the present indicative with -ant. There are three verbs with the present participle forming irregularly: avoir, être, and savoir.

Grammar
Present Participle Formation · Formation De Participe Présent
Regular Formation
infinitive Nous form of the
present indicative
Stem Ending Present
Participle
parler nous parlons parl ant parlant
finir nous finissons finiss finissant
attendre nous attendons attend attendant
prendre nous prenons pren prenant
Irregular Formation
avoir ayant
être étant
savoir sachant

Forms and Usage Summary[edit]

Grammar
Present Participle Usage · Utilisation De Participe Présent
Form Formation Formation Example Usage Usage Detail
Simple Present Participle [present participle] étant - being
disant - saying
cause
reason
expresses the reason why something
has occurred
Composed Present Participle [étant or ayant] + [past participle] ayant fini - having finished
étant allé(e)(s) - having gone
anteriority expresses that one action occurred
before the action of the main verb
Le gérondif en + [present participle] en chantant - while singing
en courant - while running
simultinaity expresses that one action is occurring
at the same time as a second
  • NOTE: The present progressive tense does not exist in French. The present indicative is used instead.
    • To say I am going., you would say Je vais. You would NOT say Je suis allant.

Simple Present Participle Usage[edit]

The present participle is used to express the reason why something has occurred.

  • La table étant trop lourde, ils ne pouvaient pas le soulever. - The table being too heavy, they were not able to lift it.

Composed Present Participle[edit]

Formation[edit]

To form the composed present participle, conjugate être or avoir in the present participle (étant and ayant) and add the past participle.

  • ayant parlé - having spoken
  • étant allé(e)(s) - having gone.

Note that both avoir and être translate to having in English. This is the same in all composed tenses.

The past participle may have an -e or -s added in order to agree with other parts of the sentence. All standard agreement rules that composed tenses follow apply to the composed present participle as well.

Usage[edit]

The composed present participle is used to express that one action occurred before the action of the main verb

  • Ayant fini, je suis parti(e). - Having finished, I left.
  • Je suis parti(e) ayant entendu la fille. - I left having heard the girl.

The composed present participle is not used after a preposition. To express a similar idea using a preposition, the past infinitive is used.

  • Je suis parti(e) sans avoir entendu la fille. - I left without having heard the girl.
  • Je suis parti(e) après avoir entendu la fille. - I left after having heard the girl.

Le gérondif[edit]

Formation[edit]

en + present participle

  • en chantant - (while) singing
  • en courant - (while) running

Usage[edit]

Le gérondif is used to express that one action is occurring at the same time as a second.

  • Ils se sont promenés en chantant. - They walked while singing.
  • Elle est arrivée en courant. - She arrived running.

Past participle[edit]

Usage[edit]

This is added after an auxiliary verb for many past tenses, including passé composé.

Formation[edit]

  • For a regular -er verb, the past participle is determined by replacing the -er with é.
  • For a regular -ir verb, the past participle is determined by removing the final r.
  • For a regular -re verb, the past participle is determined by replacing the -re with u.
  • Irregular verbs have irregular past participles, as shown by the table.
  • For verbs with the auxiliary verb être, the past participle must agree with the subject. For verbs with the auxiliary avoir, the participle never agree with the subject, but with a possible direct complement, if it is written before the verb. For example, in the sentence il les a eus, the participle eus agree with the direct complement les, because it's written before the verb, but in the sentence il a eu les facture, the participle eu does not agree with les factures.

The table below shows additions to the normal past participle that must be made based on the gender and number of the subject.

Irregular past participles

Verb

Past participle

atteindre

atteint

avoir

eu

boire

bu

conduire

conduit

connaître

connu

construire

construit

courir

couru

couvrir

couvert

craindre

craint

croire

cru

devoir

dire

dit

écrire

écrit

être

été

faire

fait

falloir

fallu

instruire

instruit

joindre

joint

lire

lu

mettre

mis

mourir

mort

offrir

offert

ouvrir

ouvert

naître

paraître

paru

peindre

peint

pleuvoir

plu

pouvoir

pu

prendre

pris

produire

produit

recevoir

reçu

savoir

su

souffrir

souffert

suivre

suivi

tenir

tenu

venir

venu

vivre

vécu

voir

vu

vouloir

voulu

Past participle agreement
Gender Number Add

masculine

singular

-

masculine

plural

-s

feminine

singular

-e

feminine

plural

-es


Auxiliary[edit]

Usage[edit]

Avoir or être[edit]

  • For the verbs aller, arriver, descendre, entrer, monter, mourir, naître, passer, partir, rentrer, rester, retourner, sortir, tomber, and venir, the auxiliary verb is être.
  • For pronomial verbs (verbs indicating that the subject performs the action upon itself) être is the auxiliary verb.
  • For all other verbs, avoir is the auxiliary verb.
  • When a verb that is normally conjugated with être is used transitively (along with a direct object), avoir is the auxiliary verb.
  • When a pronomial verb is used with an indirect object, avoir is the auxiliary verb.


Other tenses[edit]

Recent past[edit]

The Passé Récent is the tense which represents doing something.

e.g. I just returned.

However, in French you say that you come from doing something rather than having just done it, so that sentence would be: e.g. 'Je viens de revenir

If we break it down into its parts it looks like this:

(pronoun) (conjugated form of venir) de (infinitive verb)

Here are some more examples:

We have just finished = Nous venons de finir

She has just arrived = Elle vient d'arriver

They have just eaten = Ils viennent de manger


Near future[edit]

Futur Proche in French

Usage of Near Future[edit]

This tense is used to speak about something happening in the very near future, as an alternative to either the future anterior (le futur antérieur) or the simple future (le futur simple).

Formation of the Near Future[edit]

This tense uses a combination of the verb to go (aller) in its present indicative form appropriate to the subject followed by the infinitive of the verb that will be done.

  • Je vais faire du shopping. I will go shopping, I am going shopping. (I am going to do the shopping.)
  • Nous allons jouer au foot. We will play football.


Imperative[edit]

Usage of the Imperative[edit]

This tense is used to give commands, express requests or make suggestions.

Formation of the Imperative[edit]

The imperative is used in tu, nous and vous forms; the nous and vous forms are the same as the indicative in both regular and irregular verbs (except the 3 irregulars shown below). The tu form is also the same unless it comes from an infinitive that ends in -er, in which case the tu form would drop the 's' (e.g.: parles -> parle).

You could also drop the 's' when an -ir verb have the same endings as an er verb.

The infinitive can also be used as the imperative, but only for impersonal commands, e.g.: mettre la ceinture.


Regular Conjugations[edit]

  • danser, perdre & finir are regular verbs that can be used in the imperative.

Danser

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

danse

(Nous)

dansons

(Vous)

dansez

Perdre

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

perds

(Nous)

perdons

(Vous)

perdez

finir

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

finis

(Nous)

finissons

(Vous)

finissez

Irregular Verbs in their Imperative Conjugations[edit]

  • faire, aller, venir, sortir, and partir

Faire

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

fais

(Nous)

faisons

(Vous)

faites

Aller

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

va

(Nous)

allons

(Vous)

allez

Venir

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

viens

(Nous)

venons

(Vous)

venez

Sortir

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

sors

(Nous)

sortons

(Vous)

sortez

Irregular Conjugations[edit]

  • Être, Avoir, Savoir, & Vouloir are the only verbs that are irregular in the imperative.

Être

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

sois

(nous)

soyons

(vous)

soyez

Avoir

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

aie

(nous)

ayons

(vous)

ayez

Savoir

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

sache

(nous)

sachons

(vous)

sachez

Vouloir

Subject

Ending

(Tu)

veuille

(nous)

veuillons

(vous)

veuillez


Past imperative[edit]

Usage of the Past Imperative[edit]

Formation of the Past Imperative[edit]

  • The imperatif passé is a compound tense- it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle of the verb one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the present imperative.
  • The past participle is added immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, immediately before the past participle.

Verb moods[edit]

Indicative=[edit]

Use

Example

English

Actions (see note)

Il fait du shopping.

He does the shopping.

Note: The indicative indicates certainty about an action. The subjunctive indicates a doubt or subjectivity. The conditional indicates that an action will occur or occurred based on the fulfillment of certain conditions.

Imperative[edit]

Usage[edit]

Use Example English
Requests Repondez, s'il vous plaît. Please respond.
Orders and Commands Parle français! Speak French!
Desires Mangeons de la glace. Let us eat some ice cream.

Formation[edit]


Conditional[edit]

Usage of the Conditional Mood[edit]

Use

Example

English

Events dependant on conditions

S'elle avait faim, elle mangerait.

If she were hungry, she would eat.

Polite use of vouloir

Je voudrais aller au musée.

I would like to go to the museum.



Subjunctive[edit]

Usage of the Subjunctive Mood[edit]

The subjunctive mood is used to express subjectivity, as opposed to objectivity.


Use

Example

English

Wills, wishes, or advice

Il faut que nous parlions.

It is necessary that we speak.

Emotions regarding something

Nous sommes tristes que vous ne reussissiez à l'examen.

We are sad that you did not pass the test.

Doubts, opinions, or probabilities

Il est impossible que je sois incorrect.

It is impossible that I am wrong.

Commands or wishes in the third person

Que Dieu nous bénisse.

May God bless us.

The subjunctive usually appears with que, which means that.




References[edit]