Easy Learning French

The present tense: spelling changes in -er verbs - Easy Learning Grammar French

  • Learning the patterns shown on means you can now work out the forms of most -er verbs. A few verbs, though, involve a small spelling change. This is usually to do with how a word is pronounced. In the tables below the form(s) with the irregular spelling is/are underlined.

1 Verbs ending in -cer

  • With verbs such as lancer (meaning to throw), which end in -cer, c becomes ç before an a or an o. This is so the letter c is still pronounced as in the English word ice.
PronounExample verb: lancer
jelance
tulances
il
elle
on
lance
nouslançons
vouslancez
ils
elles
lancent

2 Verbs ending in -ger

  • With verbs such as manger (meaning to eat), which end in -ger, g becomes ge before an a or an o. This is so the letter g is still pronounced like the s in the English word leisure.
PronounExample verb: manger
jemange
tumanges
il
elle
on
mange
nousmangeons
vousmangez
ils
elles
mangent

3 Verbs ending in -eler

  • With verbs such as appeler (meaning to call), which end in -eler, the l doubles before -e, -es and -ent. The double consonant (ll) affects the pronunciation of the word. In appeler, the first e sounds like the vowel sound at the end of the English word teacher, but in appelle the first e sounds like the one in the English word pet.
PronounExample verb: appeler
j’appelle
tuappelles
il
elle
on
appelle
nousappelons
vousappelez
ils
elles
appellent
  • The exceptions to this rule are geler (meaning to freeze) and peler (meaning
    to peel), which change in the same way as lever (see The present tense: spelling changes in -er verbs).
  • Verbs like this are sometimes called ‘1, 2, 3, 6 verbs’ because they change in the first person singular (je), second person singular (tu), and third person singular and plural (il/elle/on and ils/elles).

4 Verbs ending in -eter

  • With verbs such as jeter (meaning to throw), which end in -eter, the t doubles before -e, -es and -ent. The double consonant (tt) affects the pronunciation
    of the word. In jeter, the first e sounds like the vowel sound at the end of the English word teacher, but in jette the first e sounds like the one in the English word pet.
PronounExample verb: jeter
jejette
tujettes
il
elle
on
jette
nousjetons
vousjetez
ils
elles
jettent
  • The exceptions to this rule include acheter (meaning to buy), which changes in the same way as lever.
  • Verbs like this are sometimes called ‘1, 2, 3, 6 verbs’.

5 Verbs ending in -yer

  • With verbs such as nettoyer (meaning to clean), which end in -yer, the y changes to i before -e, -es and -ent.
PronounExample verb: nettoyer
jenettoie
tunettoies
il
elle
on
nettoie
nousnettoyons
vousnettoyez
ils
elles
nettoient
  • Verbs ending in -ayer, such as payer (meaning to pay) and essayer (meaning to try), can be spelled with either a y or an i. So je paie and je paye, for example, are both correct.
  • Verbs like this are sometimes called ‘1, 2, 3, 6 verbs’.

6 Changes involving accents

  • With verbs such as lever (meaning to raise), peser (meaning to weigh) and acheter (meaning to buy), e changes to è before the consonant + -e, -es and -ent. The accent changes the pronunciation too. In lever the first e sounds like the vowel sound at the end of the English word teacher, but in lève and so on the first e sounds like the one in the English word pet.
PronounExample verb: lever
jelève
tulèves
il
elle
on
lève
nouslevons
vouslevez
ils
elles
lèvent
  • With verbs such as espérer (meaning to hope), régler (meaning to adjust) and préférer (meaning to prefer), é changes to è before the consonant + -e, -es and -ent.
PronounExample verb: espérer
j’espère
tuespères
il
elle
on
espère
nousespérons
vousespérez
ils
elles
espèrent
  • Verbs like this are sometimes called ‘1, 2, 3, 6 verbs’.
Key points
  • In verbs ending in -cer and -ger:
    cç and gge in the nous form.
  • In verbs ending in -eler and -eter:
    lll and ttt in all but the nous and vous forms.
  • In verbs ending in -yer:
    yi in all but the nous and vous forms (optional in -ayer verbs).

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