How to Conjugate "Agir" (to Act) in French

Actress rehearsing under spotlight on stage.
Dougal Waters / Getty Images

As you continue to learn French, you may want to use the verb agir, which means "to act." Conjugating this French verb to match the subject and tense of a subject is actually quite easy because it is a regular verb. This quick French lesson will show you exactly how to do that.

Conjugating the French Verb Agir

It is necessary to conjugate French verbs so they make sense in the context we wish to use them. We cannot simply use agir anytime we wish to say something or someone is acting or has acted. Instead, we need to change the ending of the verb and this is called conjugation.

The good news is that agir is an easy one to conjugate. It follows the typical pattern of regular -ir verbs to tell us which ending to use. This makes learning the conjugations for similar verbs rather easy.

In the case of agir, you can use the chart to discover the proper form to use based on the subject pronoun -- the I, he, we, etc. which are j', il, nous in French -- and the tense required. For instance, to say "I act," you would say "j'agis" in French.

Subject Present Future Imperfect
j' agis agirai agissais
tu agis agiras agissais
il agit agira agissait
nous agissons agirons agissions
vous agissez agirez agissiez
ils agissent agiront agissaient

Agir's Present Participle

The present participle of agir is agissant. It's a very useful conjugation as it can act as a verb, meaning "acting," or you can utilize it as an adjective, gerund, or noun.

Another Past Tense of Agir

It's likely that you will use the passé composé for the past tense rather than the imperfect in many instances. It's even easier with a verb like agir because there's no need to worry about the subject as all instances use the same form of agir.

In order to use the passé composé, you must first conjugate the auxiliary verb to match the subject. For this verb, we use avoirYou will also need the past participle, which is agi.

To put these pieces together, if we want to say "I acted," it would be "j'ai agi" in French. Likewise, "we acted" is quite simply "nous avons agi." You will note that "ai" and "avons" are the conjugates of our auxiliary (or helping) verb avoir.

More Conjugations of Agir

Among those conjugations above, you should be familiar with the present, future, and passé composé. The other forms, as well as those below, will be used on occasion. While it's not necessary to memorize them, you should be aware of them.

The subjunctive is a verb mood that is used when the action is undecided. Likewise, the conditional verb mood is used when the action is dependent on conditions -- it may or may not happen.

The last two columns contain the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive of the verb agir. These forms are used in formal writing.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
j' agisse agirais agis agisse
tu agisses agirais agis agisses
il agisse agirait agit agît
nous agissions agirions agîmes agissions
vous agissiez agiriez agîtes agissiez
ils agissent agiraient agirent agissent

The final conjugation of agir that you need to be concerned with is the imperative. This is another mood verb form that is used on occasion. The catch here is that you do not need to use the subject pronoun. Instead, it is implied in the imperative verb. 

For instance, instead of "tu agis" you can simply use the verb "agis."

(tu) agis
(nous) agissons
(vous) agissez

Expand Your Understanding of Agir

Not only is agir a regular verb, it is also an impersonal verb. This means that it can be used in the impersonal form of s'agir de which means "to be a question of" or "to have to do with."

Also, when you want to say "to act like" you will need to use the proper preposition. For agir, that would be agir en.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate "Agir" (to Act) in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Conjugate "Agir" (to Act) in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate "Agir" (to Act) in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).