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Lauren Harsh

22 French Verbs with Present Tense Conjugations

If your goal is to be fluent in French, you’re going to have to make peace with verb conjugations. Conjugations are rules about how you say a verb depending on the tense, mood, and subject of a sentence. If you’re an adult native English speaker, you probably spend very little time, if any at all, thinking about English verb conjugations.

When you’re learning a new language, though, you have to. French conjugations are not usually intuitive to English speakers. Though many French tenses have direct English equivalents, many don’t. If, like many first-time French language learners, you’re trying to pick up the basics for an upcoming trip, conjugations can seem intimidating.

The most logical place to start is le present, or the French present tense. It’s the most commonly used French verb tense and a subset of le mode indicatif or indicative mood (the other moods are imperatif, conditionnel, and subjonctif). It is meant to be used to describe facts, current actions, and repeated actions.

Infinitives and stems

Before you start conjugations, you need to know about infinitives. For non-grammar-nerds among us, the infinitive is the base of the verb. In English they are written as “to __,” or “__ing,” but in French they’re one word. So, “to speak” and “speaking” in English both translate to parler in French.

The first step of conjugating French verbs is to chop off the ending to make it a stem (this applies to all French tenses except futur simple and conditionnel, which both attach the ending directly to the infinitive).

The next step is to attach a new ending to the stem depending on the subject that precedes it:

  • Je = I

  • Tu = you, singular and informal

  • Il = he

  • Elle = she

  • Nous = we

  • Vous = you, plural and formal

  • Ils = they, masculine

  • Elles = they, feminine

A fundamental rule in French grammar is that there are three categories of regular verb infinitives: ones that end in “-er”; ones that end in “-re”; and ones that end in “-ir”. “-Er” verbs are the most common regular verbs, followed by “-ir”, then “-re”.

Regular -er Verbs

Parler (to speak)

  • Je parle

  • Tu parles

  • Il/Elle/On parle

  • Nous parlons

  • Vous parlez

  • Ils/Elles parlent

Notable irregular “-er” verbs

If the infinitive ends in “-yer”, change the “y” to an “i” in all conjugations except for nous and vous.

Here’s an example of a verb that follows this pattern:

Envoyer (to send)

  • J’envoie

  • Tu envoies

  • Il/Elle/On envoie

  • Nous envoyons

  • Vous envoyez

  • Ils/Elles envoient

The verb payer (to pay) also follows this pattern.

If the infinitive ends in “-ger”, keep the “-e” in the ending for nous to maintain the soft “g” sound:

Manger (to eat)

  • Je mange

  • Tu manges

  • Il/Elle/On mange

  • Nous mangeons

  • Vous mangez

  • Ils/Elles mangent

If the infinitive ends in “-cer”, add une çedille (that’s ç) to the ending of nous to maintain the soft “c” sound. Here’s an example:

Lancer (to throw)

  • Je lance

  • Tu lances

  • Il/Elle/On lance

  • Nous lançons

  • Vous lancez

  • Ils/Elles lancent

If the infinitive ends in “-eler” or “-eter”, double the consonant before the “e” for all conjugations except nous and vous, like in appeler:

Appeler (to call)

  • J’appelle

  • Tu appelles

  • Il/Elle/On appelle

  • Nous appelons

  • Vous appelez

  • Ils/Elles appellent

There are some exceptions, like acheter (to buy), déceler (to discover), geler (to freeze), haleter (to pant), harceler (to harass), modeler (to model), and peler (to peel).

If the infinitive includes an “é”, it becomes an “è” in all conjugations except nous and vous:

Céder (to concede)

  • Je cède = I concede

  • Tu cèdes

  • Il/Elle/On cède

  • Nous cédons

  • Vous cédez

  • Ils/Elles cèdent

If the infinitive includes an unvoiced “e”, add an accent grave (that’s è) for all conjugations except nous and vous:

Acheter (to buy)

  • J’achète

  • Tu achètes

  • Il/Elle/On achète

  • Nous achetons

  • Vous achetez

  • Ils/Elles achètent

Regular -ir Verbs

Finir (to finish)

  • Je fini

  • Tu finis

  • Il/Elle/On finit

  • Nous finissons

  • Vous finissez

  • Ils/Elles finissent

Notable irregular “-ir” verbs

Some “-ir” verbs follow the short conjugation pattern, which means they drop the “-iss-“ in the plural.

Partir (to leave)

  • Je pars

  • Tu pars

  • Il/Elle/On part

  • Nous partons

  • Vous partez

  • Ils/Elles partent

Other verbs that use this pattern include dormir (to sleep), se sentir (to feel), sortir (to go out), and servir (to serve).

Venir (to come)

  • Je viens

  • Tu viens

  • Il/Elle/On vient

  • Nous venons

  • Vous venez

  • Ils/Elles viennent

Other verbs that follow this pattern include tenir (to hold), souvenir (to remember), revenir (to return), soutenir (to support), and appartenir (to belong).

Savoir (to know)

  • Je sais

  • Tu sais

  • Il/Elle/On sait

  • Nous savons

  • Vous savez

  • Ils/elles savent

All verbs that end in “-oir” are irregular, but no others follow the exact conjugation of savoir.

Regular -re Verbs

Vendre (to sell)

  • Je vends

  • Tu vends

  • Il/Elle/On vend

  • Nous vendons

  • Vous vendez

  • Ils/Elles vendent

Notable irregular “-re” verbs

Prendre (to take)

  • Je prends

  • Tu prends

  • Il/Elle/On prend

  • Nous prenons

  • Vous prenez

  • Ils/Elles prennent

Other verbs that follow this pattern include apprendre (to learn), comprendre (to understand), and entreprendre (to undertake).

Battre (to beat)

  • Je bats

  • Tu bats

  • Il/Elle/On bat

  • Nous battons

  • Vous battez

  • Ils/Elles battent

Other verbs that follow this pattern include abattre (to cut down) and combattre (to fight).

Connaître (to know)

  • Je connais

  • Tu connais

  • Il/Elle/On connait

  • Nous connaissons

  • Vous connaissez

  • Ils/Elles connaissent

Other verbs that follow this pattern include disparaître (to disappear), meconnaître (to be ignorant of), and paraître (to seem).

Écrire (to write)

  • J’écris

  • Tu écris

  • Il/Elle/On écrit

  • Nous écrivons

  • Vous écrivez

  • Ils/Elles écrivent

Other verbs that follow this pattern include décrire (to describe), inscrire (to inscribe), prescrire (to prescribe), souscrire (to subscribe), and transcrire (to transcribe).

Dire (to say)

  • Je dis

  • Tu dis

  • Il/Elle/On dit

  • Nous disons

  • Vous dites

  • Ils/Elles disent

Other verbs that follow this pattern include contredire (to contradict), intredire (to forbid), and predire (to predict).

Mettre (to put)

  • Je mets

  • Tu mets

  • Il/Elle/On met

  • Nous mettons

  • Vous mettez

  • Ils/Elles mettent

Other verbs that follow this pattern include compromettre (to compromise), emettre (to emit), omettre (to omit), permettre (to permit), promettre (to promise), soumettre (to submit), and transmettre (to transmit).

Most Common Irregular Verbs

The most commonly used irregular verbs are “to be”, “to have”, “to go”, and “to make/to do.” They all have unique conjugations not shared with any other verbs.

Être (to be)

  • Je suis = I am

  • Tu es = you are

  • Il/Elle/On est = he/she/one is

  • Nous sommes = We are

  • Vous êtes = you are

  • Ils/elles sont = they are

Avoir (to have)

  • J’ai

  • Tu as

  • Il/Elle/On a

  • Nous avons

  • Vous avez

  • Ils/Elles ont

Aller (to go)

  • Je vais

  • Tu vas

  • Il/Elle/On va

  • Nous allons

  • Vous allez

  • Ils/Elles vont

“Making” and “doing” use the same verb in French, faire.

Faire (to make/ to do)

  • Je fais

  • Tu fais

  • Il/Elle/On fait

  • Nous faisons

  • Vous faites

  • Ils/Elles font

A few present tense tips to remember

You’re getting closer to mastering French verb conjugations. Bonus: you learned some new vocabulary! Obviously, memorizing all infinitives requires a lot of brain space, so here a few summary points to keep in mind while you continue your French learning.

  • If you guess that the ending for nous contains “-ons” somewhere, the ending for vous contains “-ez” somewhere, and the ending for ils or elles contains “-ent” somewhere…you’re usually right!

  • When ils/elles does not end in “-ent”, it typically ends in “-ont”.

  • For many irregular “-ir” and “-re” verbs, the conjugations for je and tu are the same. For regular and many irregular “-er” verbs the conjugations for je and il/elle/on are the same. See if you notice any other patterns on your own.

  • Conjugations require a lot of rote memorization. You’ll get better by using them. In the meantime, Lingolia has a verb conjugator tool that is very helpful. For more personalized help, connect with an expert French tutor.