French Conjugation: The Present Tense

French conjugation refers back to the totally different endings of French verbs.

For instance, consider the verb “to speak”, which in French is parler. In English, the verb is identical whether or not it’s I converse, you converse, or they converse.

In French, the verb modifications:

  • Je parle – “I speak”
  • Tu parles – “You speak”
  • Ils parlent – “They speak”.

We have conjugation in English, as a result of our verb endings change, too. For instance, you don’t say “she speak”, you say “she speaks”.

When you’re studying these French conjugations as a local English speaker, it might probably really feel scary, however it doesn’t should be.

French Conjugation Can Be Easy

Do you discover French conjugation scary? If sure, you aren’t alone. Many learners assume the identical, particularly at first.

When I used to be a secondary faculty pupil studying French, it appeared inconceivable to learn to conjugate probably the most primary verbs, not to mention grasp French conjugation.

Even so, I made a decision to check languages at college. I lived in France and Belgium, and ended up instructing French to individuals from everywhere in the world.

Today, I converse French each day.

The conjugations that scared me a lot come naturally to me now. If I might return in time and apply the information I had right now, I’d have turn out to be fluent sooner.

So as an alternative, I’ll share it with you!

The three Types of Verbs in French

To perceive French conjugation, you must know the several types of French verbs. We can divide French verbs into three teams:

  • First group verbs: common verbs ending with -er, like parler
  • Second group verbs: common verbs ending with -ir, like choisir
  • Third group verbs: irregular verbs that don’t observe a selected rule, like faire

What is the distinction between common and irregular verbs? The conjugation of irregular verbs doesn’t observe a sample, like with common verbs.

Have a take a look at this desk which compares the common verb parler (“to speak”) to the irregular verb être (“to be”)

Parler (common verb) Être (irregular verb)
je parle je suis
tu parles tu es
il/elle parle il/elle est
nous parlons nous sommes
vous parlez vous êtes
ils/elles parl/ent ils/elles sont

Can you see how parler follows a sample and être doesn’t? That’s the distinction between common and irregular verbs in French.

Is French Conjugation Hard?

I’ve a bit of excellent information and a bit of dangerous information.

Good information: 80% of French verbs belong to the primary group, common verbs. If you understand how to conjugate considered one of these verbs, it means that you would be able to conjugate all of them.

For instance, the verb parler, (“to speak”) belongs to the primary group. All the opposite first group verbs observe the identical logic as parler in terms of conjugation within the current tense. This means you possibly can apply your information to all the opposite first group verbs and conjugate déciderarrivermanger, and 1000’s extra.

Bad information, now? Some of the commonest verbs in French are third group verbs, which implies they don’t seem to be common.

Think of the verbs you utilize every single day in English—”to have”, “to go”, “to come”, “to do”… You would use them regularly in French as nicely—avoir, aller, venir, faire… They all belong to the third group.

Learning the commonest French verbs wouldn’t solely pace up your studying, however it would additionally show you how to get extra fluent and extra assured when you’re utilizing the language.

Most Common Verbs in French for Beginners

Let’s conjugate a few of the commonest verbs collectively. To make it simpler, we’ll begin with the primary group verbs after which transfer on to the irregular third group verbs.

Keep in thoughts that this listing will not be so as of frequency.

1. Parler (“To Speak”)

Suffixes for 1st group verbs Conjugation Translation
-e Je parle I converse
-es Tu parles You converse
-e Il/elle parle He/she speaks
-ons Nous parlons We converse
-ez Vous parlez You converse
-ent Ils/elles parlent They converse

Example sentence: Je parle français. (“I speak French.”)

Note: Parler is a primary group verb. Here is how we conjugate these verbs in French current tense: we take away the -er and add the right ending. As you possibly can see within the chart, the ending for every particular person is totally different.

2. Penser (“To Think”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je pense I believe 1st
Tu penses You assume
Il/elle pense He/she thinks
Nous pensons We assume
Vous pensez You assume
Ils/elles pensent They assume

Example sentence: Tu penses à quoi? (“What are you thinking of?”)

Note: Penser can also be a primary group verb so we conjugate it the identical approach as parler, utilizing the identical endings.

three. Aimer (“To Like” / “To Love”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’aime I like 1st
Tu aimes You like
Il/elle aime He/she likes
Nous aimons We like
Vous aimez You like
Ils/elles aiment They like

Example sentence: Il aime sa famille. (“He loves his family.”)

Note: When the verb begins with a vowel, we do a contraction for je and for je solely. For instance, as an alternative of claiming je aime, we should always say j’aime.

four. Regarder (“To Watch”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je regarde I watch 1st
Tu regardes You watch
Il/elle regarde He/she watches
Nous regardons We watch
Vous regardez You watch
Ils regardent They watch

Example sentence: Vous regardez la télé tous les jours. (“You watch TV every day.”)

5. Appeler (“To Call”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’appelle I name 1st
Tu appelles You name
Il/elle appelle He/she calls
Nous appelons We name
Vous appelez You name
Ils/elles appellent They name

Example sentence: Ma mère m’appelle. (“My mother is calling me.”)

Note: You already know this verb. How? Think of the primary sentence you’ve realized in French. It’s in all probability je m’appelle. Although it’s used as “my name is,” its literal that means is “I call myself.” Makes sense proper?

6. Donner (“To Give”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je donne I give 1st
Tu donnes You give
Il/elle donne He/she offers
Nous donnons We give
Vous donnez You give
Ils/elles donnent They give

Example: Je donne le livre à ma sœur. (“I givethe book to my sister.”)

7. Aider (“To Help”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’aide I assist 1st
Tu aides You assist
Il/elle aide He/she helps
Nous aidons We assist
Vous aidez You assist
Ils/elles aident They assist

Example: J’aide mon ami. (“I help my friend.”)

Note: Here’s a trick to recollect the verb aider: consider “first aid” in English. It comes from Old French which originates from Latin.

eight. Manger (“To Eat”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je mange I eat 1st
Tu manges You eat
Il/elle mange He/she eats
Nous mangeons We eat
Vous mangez You eat
Ils/elles mangent They eat

Example: Je mange trop de sucre. (“I eat too much sugar.”)

Note: While we’re conjugating, we should have in mind the pronunciation as nicely. French will not be a phonetic language, which signifies that it’s not pronounced the identical approach it’s written.

Now try nous mangeons. It seems like there’s an additional -e there, proper? It’s simply there in order that the G in mangeons appears like the remainder of the verb.

9. Habiter (“To Live”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’habite I stay 1st
Tu habites You stay
Il/elle habite He/she lives
Nous habitons We stay
Vous habitez You stay
Ils/elles habitent They stay

Example: Elle habite à Paris. (“She lives in Paris.”)

Note: The letter “h” often counts as a vowel in French and it’s all the time silent. This is why we are saying j’habite and never je habite.

10. Finir (“To Finish”)

Suffixes for 2nd group verbs Conjugation Translation
-is Je finis I end
-is Tu finis You end
-it Il/elle finit He/she finishes
-issons Nous finissons We end
-issez Vous finissez You end
-issent Ils/elles finissent They end

Example: Elles finissent dans 10 minutes. (“They finish in 10 minutes.”)

Note: Finir is a second group verb. To conjugate these verbs, we first take away the -ir infinitive and add the fitting ending. We can apply this to the entire second group verbs.

11. Choisir (“To Choose”)

Conjugation Translation Group
Je choisis I select 2nd
Tu choisis You select
Il/elle finit He/she chooses
Nous choisissons We select
Vous choisissez You select
Ils/elles choisissent They select

Example: Je choisis la deuxième choice. (“I choose the second option.”)

Note: Choisir belongs to the second group as nicely so it has the identical endings as finir.

12. Être (“To Be”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je suis I’m third
Tu es You are
Il/elle est He/she is
Nous sommes We are
Vous êtes You are
Ils/elles sont They are

Example sentence: Je suis malade. (“I am sick”)

Note: Although être is an irregular verb, it’s prone to be one of many first verbs you be taught in French. I’d suggest studying it very nicely as—spoiler alert—être might be crucial as you be taught different tenses in French.

13. Avoir (“To Have”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’ai I’ve third
Tu as You have
Il/elle a He/she has
Nous avons We have
Vous avez You have
Ils/elles ont They have

Example sentence: J’ai 25 ans. (“I am 25 years old.”)

Tip: Don’t neglect that we use the verb avoir, not être to speak about our age in French. You’re actually saying “I have 25 years” as an alternative of “I am 25 years old.”

14. Aller (“To Go”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je vais I am going third
Tu vas You go
Il/elle va He/she goes
Nous allons We go
Vous allez You go
Ils/elles vont They go

Example sentence: Mon frère va à l’école. (“My brother goes to school.”)

Tip: Aller is a tough verb. Although it ends with -er, it’s an irregular verb and it belongs to the third group. You can see that its conjugation could be very totally different from first group verbs.

15. Venir (“To Come”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je viens I come third
Tu viens You come
Il/elle vient He/she comes
Nous venons We come
Vous venez You come
Ils/elles viennent They come

Example sentence: Tu viens du sud. (“You come from the south.”)

Note: Just just like the verb aller, venir can also be a third-group verb—don’t let the -ir ending idiot you.

16. Faire (“To Do” / “To Make”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je fais I do/make third
Tu fais You do/make
Il/elle fait He/she does/makes
Nous faisons We do/make
Vous faites You do/make
Ils/elles font They do/make

Note: Have you observed one thing in frequent between faire and venir? In each these verbs, je and tu are conjugated the identical approach. Il/elle finish with -t, nous ends with -ons, and vous ends with -ez.

What about ils/elles in faire? That’s very totally different from venir. Well, try aller this time!

17. Vouloir (“To Want”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je veux I would like third
Tu veux You need
Il/elle veut He/she needs
Nous voulons We need
Vous voulez You need
Ils/elles veulent They need

Example sentence: Je fais du sport tous les jours. (“I do sports every day.”)

Example sentence: Il veut beaucoup de cadeaux pour son anniversaire. (“He wants a lot of presents for his birthday.”)

18. Pouvoir (“To Be Able To” / “To Can”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je peux I can third
Tu peux You can
Il/elle peut He/she will
Nous pouvons We can
Vous pouvez You can
Ils/elles peuvent They can

Example sentence: Je peux parler français. (“I can speak French.”)

19. Savoir (“To Know”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je sais I do know third
Tu sais You know
Il/elle sait He/she is aware of
Nous savons We know
Vous savez You know
Ils/elles savent They know

Example sentence: Je ne sais pas. (“I don’t know.”)

Note: Check out the similarities between the conjugations of vouloir, pouvoir, and savoir.

20. Voir (“To See”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je vois I see third
Tu vois You see
Il/elle voit He/she sees
Nous voyons We see
Vous voyez You see
Ils/elles voient They see

Example sentence: Je vois une voiture devant le supermarché. (“I see a car in front of the supermarket.”)

21. Prendre (“To Take”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je sais I do know third
Tu sais You know
Il/elle sait He/she is aware of
Nous savons We know
Vous savez You know
Ils/elles savent They know

Example sentence: Vous prenez le bus à 10h. (“You take the bus at 10 o’clock.”)

Note: In French, there are various essential verbs that derive from prendre. Comprendre, for instance, means “to understand.” You would conjugate it the identical approach as prendre.

How to Make Negative Sentences in French Present Tense

The commonest option to make a unfavorable sentence in French is to make use of the phrases ne and pas. The verb would go in the midst of these two phrases. If you examine instance 19, you will notice the negation in motion: je ne sais pas (“I don’t know”).

Here are another methods to type unfavorable sentences in French:

Negative phrases Meaning Example Translation
ne … pas not Je ne parle pas. I do not converse.
ne … rien something Tu ne fais rien. You do not do something.
ne … personne no one/nobody/anyone/anybody Elle ne voit personne. She would not see anybody.
ne … jamais by no means, not … ever Vous ne fumez jamais. You by no means smoke.
ne … plus any extra Il n’est plus là. He’s not right here anymore.

French Pronunciation Tips for Verbs

It is true that spelling these verbs appropriately is essential, particularly if you happen to’re a pupil. But don’t neglect that pronunciation is equally essential. This is the half the place it will get simpler although.

Let’s clarify by utilizing the verb parler once more. As we simply coated, the current tense conjugations for the verb parler are je parle, tu parles, il/elle parle, nous parlons, vouz parlez, ils/elles parlent.

Among these six conjugations, parle, parles and parlent are all pronounced the identical. That’s 4 out of six which implies that you’ve got greater than a 50% likelihood of getting the pronunciation proper! This is just one of many the reason why talking French is less complicated than you assume. You solely have to learn to say the nous type and the vous type, which isn’t that onerous—you simply don’t pronounce the final letter.

In French, there may be additionally an alternate phrase for nous. It’s known as on and it means “we,” similar to nous. But on is conjugated in the identical approach as il/elle, not nous. Native audio system use on as an alternative of nous in casual conditions corresponding to when they’re talking with their associates. So if you happen to say on parle as an alternative of claiming nous parlons, you’d sound extra fluent. Plus, it’s simpler to conjugate.

French Conjugation Tips

Start With the Most Common Verbs

This will enhance your confidence as you’ll begin to perceive French an increasing number of. When you be taught the frequent verbs, you’ll have the ability to conjugate the extra unusual ones extra simply as nicely.

Look for Patterns

Even in irregular verbs, there are some patterns. For instance, vous conjugations finish with -ez in lots of verbs.

Try figuring out these patterns so that you simply’ll spend much less time discovering the fitting conjugation for every verb.

Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t be afraid to talk despite the fact that you’re not 100% certain if you’re conjugating the verbs appropriately. If you don’t know a phrase, there may be all the time a option to work round it to make your self understood.

By talking with fellow French audio system, you’ll get a variety of talking apply, together with conjugation.

Listen to French Songs and Watch French Films

Besides bettering your vocabulary, you’ll additionally hear correctly-conjugated French verbs on a regular basis. Plus, you’ll take heed to good songs and watch cool movies. Win-win!

Use Different Techniques to Study

You can use totally different methods to practise your verbs and see what works greatest for you. Writing verbs on flashcards, studying them out loud, or utilizing a language studying app can all be choices.

Also, take into account that everybody has a distinct studying fashion. For instance, I be taught by writing and talking.

So… You Mastered the French Present Tense. What’s Next?

I’d say when you’re assured conjugating aller, venir, avoir, and être and a handful of the frequent verbs, you possibly can transfer on to futur proche (close to future) or passé composé (current good/easy previous).

Next articles? Possibly!

Bonne likelihood! (“Good luck!”)

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Yaren Fadiloglulari

Freelance Content Writer & Journalist

Originally from Cyprus, Yaren is a contract author for a lot of digital publications, journey and training manufacturers, and start-ups.

Speaks: English, Turkish, French, and Spanish

View all posts by Yaren Fadiloglulari

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