Easy Learning French

The three conjugations - Easy Learning Grammar French

  • Verbs are usually used with a noun, with a pronoun such as I, you or she, or with somebody’s name. They can relate to the present, the past and the future; this is called their tense.
  • For more information on Nouns and Pronouns, see Nouns and Pronouns.
  • Verbs are either:
  • regular; their forms follow the normal rules
  • irregular; their forms do not follow the normal rules
  • Regular English verbs have a base form (the form of the verb without any endings added to it, for example, walk). The base form can have to in front of it, for example, to walk. This is called the infinitive. You will find one of these forms when you look a verb up in your dictionary.
  • French verbs also have an infinitive, which ends in -er, -ir or -re, for example, donner (meaning to give), finir (meaning to finish), attendre (meaning to wait). Regular French verbs belong to one of these three verb groups, which are called conjugations. We will look at each of these three conjugations in turn on the next few pages.
  • English verbs have other forms apart from the base form and infinitive: a form ending in -s (walks), a form ending in -ing (walking), and a form ending in -ed (walked).
  • French verbs have many more forms than this, which are made up of endings added to a stem. The stem of a verb can usually be worked out from the infinitive.
  • French verb endings change, depending on who you are talking about: je (I), tu (you), il/elle/on (he/she/one) in the singular, or nous (we), vous (you) and ils/elles (they) in the plural. French verbs also have different forms depending on whether you are referring to the present, future or past.
  • Some verbs in French do not follow the normal rules, and are called irregular verbs. These include some very common and important verbs like avoir (meaning to have), être (meaning to be), faire (meaning to do, to make) and aller (meaning to go). There is information on many of these irregular verbs in the following sections.
  • For Verb tables, see supplement.
Key points
  • French verbs have different forms depending on what noun or pronoun they are used with, and on their tense.
  • They are made up of a stem and an ending. The stem is usually based on the infinitive.
  • Regular verbs fit into one of three patterns or conjugations: -er, -ir, or -re verbs.
  • Irregular verbs do not follow the normal rules.

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