Conjugating the Regular French Verb 'Acheter' ('to Buy')

'Acheter' Is a Stem-Changing Verb That Uses Regular '-er' Endings

Buying flowers
Alija / Getty Images

'Achete' ("to buy") is a very common French stem-changing verb. What is a stem-changing verb? It is verb that has two different stems but is conjugated with the same endings as regular -er verbs.

Stem-changing verbs are sometimes also called boot verbs or shoe verbs because if you circle the forms that have stem changes in the conjugation table below, the resulting shape looks like a boot or shoe.

The Actual Stem Change

For the present tense of verbs that end in -e_er ( _ indicates one or more consonants), the stem change consists of changing the e before that consonant to è in all forms but nous and vous.

See this happen in the table below. Stem changes are not limited to the present tense; they occur across several French tenses and moods, as shown in the table below.

Note that the table below has only the simple conjugations of the verb acheter; it does not include the compound tenses, which consist of a form of the auxiliary verb and the past participle.

Common '-e_er' Stem-Changing Verbs

   acheter > to buy
   amener > to take
   emmener > to take (see amener versus emmener)
   enlever > to remove
   geler > to freeze
   harceler > o harass
   lever > to lift, raise
   mener > to lead
   peler > to peel
   peser > to weigh
   promener > to walk

Other than acheter, geler, harceler and peler, most verbs that end in -eler and -eter are part of a different stem-change group that includes -eler verbs and -eter verbs.

Verbs that end in -é_er have a similar stem change. For the present tense of verbs that end in -é_er, the stem change consists of changing é to è in all forms but nous and vous, as in the following example:

   je considère       nous considérons
   tu considères     vous considérez
   il considère        ils considèrent

Common '-é_er' Stem-Changing Verbs

  •    céder > to give up, dispose of
  •    célébrer > to celebrate
  •    compléter > to complete
  •    considérer > to consider
  •    différer > to differ
  •    espérer > to hope
  •    exagérer* > to exaggerate
  •    gérer > to manage
  •    inquiéter > to worry
  •    modérer > to moderate
  •    pénétrer > to enter
  •    posséder > to possess
  •    préférer > to prefer
  •    protéger* > to protect
  •    refléter > to reflect
  •    répéter > to repeat
  •    révéler > to reveal
  •    suggérer > to suggest
  •    zébrer > to stripe
    *These are also spelling change verbs.

Verbs that end in -e_er have a similar stem change. For -e_er verbs and -é_er verbs, the penultimate e takes on or changes to è.

Simple Conjugations of the French Stem-Changing Verb 'Acheter'

 Present Future Imperfect  Present participle
j'achèteachèteraiachetais achetant
tuachètesachèterasachetais 
ilachèteachèteraachetait Passé composé
nousachetonsachèteronsachetions   Auxiliary verb avoir
vousachetezachèterezachetiez   Past participle acheté
ilsachètentachèterontachetaient 
 
 Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple  Imperfect subjunctive
j'achèteachèteraisachetai achetasse
tuachètesachèteraisachetas achetasses
ilachèteachèteraitacheta achetât
nousachetionsachèterionsachetâmes achetassions
vousachetiezachèteriezachetâtes achetassiez
ilsachètentachèteraientachetèrent achetassent
 
 Imperative 
(tu)achète
 
(nous) achetons
(vous)achetez