French Grammar: Verb Conjugation – Basics


French Grammar: Verb Conjugation Overview
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French Grammar: Verb Conjugation – Basics
la grammaire française: la conjugaison des verbes – les essentiels

Verbs (les verbes) are used to communicate actions. They DO things! If you plan on doing anything in French, you’ll need to learn how verbs and verb conjugations work!


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.) These are verbs like parler (to speak), étudier (to study), finir (to finish), grandir (to grow), vendre (to sell), répondre (to answer), etc.

Infinitive verbs in French will always end with the letters –ER, -IR, or –RE.

French, like English, has many regular as well as irregular verbs.  Irregular French verbs are explained in other LEAF lessons.  In this lesson, we present an overview of regular French verbs only.

Regular French –ER verbs are also called “Verbs of the First Conjugation”.  This is the largest group of regular French verbs.  Regular French –IR verbs are also called “Verbs of the Second Conjugation”.  Regular French –RE verbs are also called “Verbs of the Third Conjugation”.  This is the smallest group of regular French verbs.

Infinitive verbs, in English, always mean to do … (action). For example: to run, to read, to speak, to live, to eat, to see, to hear, to work, to study …

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, we change the infinitive verb TO SPEAK (parler) to the conjugated form HE SPEAKS (il parle).

When we conjugate regular French verbs, we first DROP the –ER, -IR, or -RE ending, and then reattach a NEW ENDING that lets us know who or what is acting or being acted upon. (New verb endings are discussed in other LEAF lessons – there are a LOT of them!)

Subject Pronoun + New Ending = Correctly Conjugated Verb! That’s how it works!

JE + PARLE = I speak

TU + FINIS = You finish (familiar form)

IL + RÉPOND = He answers

ELLE + CHANTE = She sings

ON + DIT = One says


VOUS + TRAVAILLEZ = You work (familiar or formal plural or formal singular)

ILS + SONT = They are (masculine or mixed group)

ELLES + ONT = They have (feminine group)


Parlez-vous français?
Do you (formal) speak French?

Oui, je parle français.
Yes, I speak French.

Il parle français?
Does he speak French?

Non, il ne parle pas français.
No, he does not speak French.

Nous étudions dans la bibliothèque?
Are we studying in the library?

Non, nous étudions dans le laboratoire.
No, we are studying in the lab.

Tu voyages en France cet été?
Are you (familiar) traveling to France this summer?

Non, je voyage au Québec.
No, I am traveling to Quebec.

Elles mangent de la viande?
Do they (feminine) eat meat?

Non, elles mangent seulement des légumes.
No, they (feminine) only eat vegetables.

Tu entends la musique?
Do you (familiar) hear the music?

Non, je n’entends rien.
No, I do not hear anything.

Ils choisissent leurs cours?
Are they (masculine) choosing their courses?

Oui, ils choisissent leurs cours.
Yes, they (masculine) are choosing their courses.



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