French Grammar: Common Irregular Verbs – Present Tense

French Grammar: Common Irregular Verbs - Present Tense

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French Grammar: Common Irregular Verbs – Present Tense
la grammaire française: verbes irréguliers courants – temps présent

  • Verbs are used to communicate actions.
  • Common verbs express day-to-day activities.


Infinitives and Conjugation:

Infinitive verbs are verbs that are unchanged. They are in their most basic form, and can be adapted in many different ways. (An infinite number of ways, so to speak.)

In English, infinitive verbs always mean “to  … (action)”. For example: to run, to read, to speak, to live, to eat, to see, to hear, to work, to study …

Infinitive verbs in French will always end with [-ER], [-IR], or [-RE].  The [-ER] group of regular verbs is the largest; these verbs are sometimes called “Verbs of the First Conjugation”.  There are fewer regular verbs in the [-IR] group; these verbs are sometimes called “Verbs of the Second Conjugation”.  The [-RE] group of regular verbs is the smallest of all; these verbs are sometimes called “Verbs of the Third Conjugation”.

A  number of French verbs are irregular in the Present Tense.  Because they are irregular, they don’t follow a set conjugation pattern.  So these irregular verbs and their Present Tense conjugated forms must be memorized.

The one thing that these irregular verbs do have in common with regular verbs is that in their infinitive form they all either end in [-ER], [-IR], or [-RE].  As with regular verbs, each of those endings is the equivalent of the English word TO.

The system of adapting infinitive verbs to different people, places, and things is called verb conjugation.

When we conjugate verbs, we team them up with different Subject Pronouns to attach actions to people, places or things. For example, from TO GO to HE GOES.

To learn the conjugations of the common irregular verbs listed here, click on the individual verb.

ALLER : to go

Je vais au supermarché demain.
I am going to the supermarket tomorrow.

AVOIR : to have

Elle a trois soeurs.
She has three sisters.

BATTRE : to beat / to hit / to strike

La femme bat le tapis.
The woman is beating the rug.

BOIRE : to drink

Il boit beaucoup de café.
He drinks a lot of coffee.

CONDUIRE : to drive / to lead / to conduct / to manage

Mon père conduit une grande voiture.
My father drives a big car.

CONNAÎTRE : to know (a person or place) / to be familiar with / to be acquainted with

Je ne connais pas vos parents.
I do not know your (formal) parents.

COURIR : to run

L’équipe court chaque matin.
The team runs every morning.

CRAINDRE : to fear / to be afraid

L’enfant craint le noir.
The child is afraid of the dark.

CROIRE : to believe

Je ne te crois pas!
I don’t believe you (informal)!

DEVENIR : to become

Nous devenons fatigués.
We are becoming tired.

DEVOIR : to have to / ought to / must / to owe

Ils doivent faire leurs devoirs.
they (masc., mixed) have to do their homework.

DIRE : to say / to tell

Elles disent toujours la vérité.
They (fem.) always tell the truth.

DORMIR : to sleep

Frère Jacques, dormez-vous?
Brother John, are you (formal) sleeping?

ÉCRIRE : to write

Le professeur écrit sur le tableau blanc.
The professor writes on the white board.

ENVOYER : to send

J’envoie un texto à mon ami.
I am sending a text to my friend.

ÊTRE : to be

Vous êtes étudiants.
You all are students.

FAIRE : to do / to make

Ma mère fait la cuisine.
My mother does the cooking.

FALLOIR : to be necessary

Il faut étudier pour réussir au cours.
It’s necessary to study in order to pass the class.

LIRE : to read

Vous lisez le journal.
You (formal) are reading the newspaper.

METTRE : to put / to put on

Je mets ma chemise avant de mettre mon pantalon.
I put on my shirt before putting on my pants.

MOURIR : to die

Le patient meurt.
The patient is dying.

NAÎTRE : to be born

Aujourd’hui la plupart d’enfants naissent à l’hôpital.
These days, most children are born in the hospital.

OFFRIR : to offer

Il offre un os au chien.
He offers a bone to the dog.

OUVRIR : to open

Nous ouvrons nos livres.
We open our books.

PARTIR : to leave / to depart

Le train part à neuf heures.
The train leaves at nine o’clock.

PLAIRE : to please

Passez-moi le sel, s’il vous plaît.
Pass me the salt, please. (Literally: Pass me the salt, if it pleases you.)

POUVOIR : to be able / can

Tout peut arriver.
Anything can happen.

PRENDRE : to take

Les étudiants prennent des notes en classe.
The students take notes in class.

RECEVOIR : to receive / to get

Elle reçoit toujours de bonnes notes.
She always receives good grades.

RENVOYER : to return / to send back

Je renvoie cette chemise parce qu’elle ne me va pas.
I am returning this shirt because it doesn’t fit me.

REVENIR: to come back

Ils reviennent des vacances demain.
They (masc., mixed) are coming back from vacation tomorrow.

RIRE : to laugh

Le public rit pendant la comédie.
The audience laughs during the comedy.

SAVOIR : to know how (to do something) / to know (facts or information)

Elle sait faire du vélo.
She knows how to ride a bike.

SENTIR : to smell / to feel / to perceive

Je sens de la fumée!
I smell smoke!

SERVIR : to serve / to be useful

Cette pièce sert de mon bureau.
This room serves as my office.

SE TAIRE : to keep quiet

Les enfants se taisent quand l’institutrice parle.
The children stay quiet when the teacher speaks.

SORTIR : to go out / to leave

Nous sortons ce soir.
We are going out this evening.

SOURIRE : to smile

Elle sourit beaucoup.
She smiles a lot.

SUIVRE : to follow

Les canetons suivent leur mère.
The ducklings follow their mother.

TENIR : to hold / to grasp

Ma grand-mère tient mon bras quand nous faisons une promenade.
My grandmother holds my arm when we take a walk.

VALOIR : to be worth / to be as good as / to deserve / to merit / to be equal to

Celui qui parle deux langues vaut deux personnes.
He who speaks two languages is worth two people.

VENIR : to come

Vous venez du Canada.
You all come from Canada.

VIVRE : to live

Nous vivons dans une grande ville.
We live in a big city.

VOIR : to see

Je ne vois rien sans mes lunettes.
I don’t see anything without my glasses.

VOULOIR : to want

Elles veulent aller à la fête.
They (fem.) want to go to the party.


Qui est là?
Who’s there?

Qu’est-ce que vous faites?
What are you all doing?

Quand est-ce que tu dois payer l’amende?
When do you (informal) have to pay the fine?

Où allez-vous?
Where are you (formal) going?

Pourquoi est-ce qu’il faut se taire?
Why do we have to keep quiet?

Comment connaissez-vous mon mari?
How do you know my husband?

Combien de personnes est-ce que McDonald’s sert chaque jour?
How many people does McDonald’s serve each day?

Quel livre lit-elle?
What book is she reading?