French Grammar: The Verb [ÊTRE] – Basics

French Grammar: The Verb [ÊTRE] - Basics

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French Grammar: The Verb [ÊTRE] – Basics
le grammaire français: le verbe [être] – les essentiels

The verb ÊTRE means “to be”. (I am, you are, he/she is, we are, they are …)

ÊTRE is one of the first verbs you’ll need to know. It will help you identify people, places, and things!


The verb ÊTRE means TO BE. (I am, you are, he/she is … )

The verb ÊTRE is an irregular verb. Search the LEAF lessons for more information on French irregular verbs.

Here are the conjugations of ÊTRE in the simple present tense:


je SUIS : I am …

tu ES : you (familiar) are …

il EST : he / it is …

elle EST : she / it is …

on EST : one / we / you / people / they are …

nous SOMMES : we are …

vous ÊTES : you (formal / plural) are …

ils SONT : they (masculine or mixed) are …

elles SONT : they (feminine) are …

The verb ÊTRE is used in many different kinds of expressions, including:

Origin: Telling people where you are from

Je SUIS des États-Unis.
I am from the United States.

Nationalities: Identifying your nationality

Tu ES américain?
Are you American?

Descriptions: Describing characteristics of people, places, and things

Mon amie EST grande et intelligente.
My friend (feminine) is tall and intelligent.

Time: Telling time

Il EST une heure et demie de l’après-midi.
It is one-thirty in the afternoon.

Possession: Indicating ownership (with être + de)

C’EST le livre DE mon ami.
It is the book of my friend. (It is my friend’s book.)

Professions and Titles: Identifying the professions, titles, and ranks of different people

Ils SONT professeurs.
They are professors.


The Verb ÊTRE – Verb Conjugation Chart


Vous êtes d’où?
Where are you from?

Je suis des États-Unis.

I am from the United States.

Vos amis sont allemands?
Are your (formal)  friends German?

Non, mes amis ne sont pas allemands.

No, my friends are not German.

Ma soeur est grande et jolie.
My sister is tall and pretty.

Mon chien est amusant.
My dog is funny.

Quelle heure est-il?
What time is it?

Il est cinq heures.

It’s five o’clock.

Ce livre est de qui?
Whose book is this?

C’est mon livre.

It’s my book.

Nous sommes étudiants.

We are students.

Vous êtes mes étudiants avancés?
Are you my advanced students?

Non, nous ne sommes pas vos étudiants avancés.
No, we are not your advanced students.


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