How to Conjugate the Verb "Apercevoir" (to catch sight of)

Simple Conjugations for the French Verb "Apercevoir"

Conjugating the French verb apercevoir is a little more complicated than other verbs. This is because it is an irregular verb and does not follow the most common patterns for conjugation.

Apercevoir means "to catch sight of" or "to foresee" and it is one of the French verbs of sensation or perception. While this lesson may be a little difficult, it's a good one to understand as you continue to expand your vocabulary.

Conjugating the French Verb Apercevoir

Verb conjugations are important when learning French because they help a phrase make sense. When we conjugate, we change the ending of the verb to coincide with the subject pronoun and the tense. Without these special endings, your French would not be grammatically correct.

Irregular verbs like apercevoir pose a challenge to French students because they do not follow a typical pattern. However, the endings here also apply to the conjugations of other French verbs ending in -cevoir. This includes concevoir (to conceive), décevoir (to disappoint), percevoir (to perceive), and recevoir (to receive).

That said, you will probably have a more difficult time memorizing these verb conjugations. Yet, with enough practice, you will do just fine. Explore this chart and focus on the present and future tenses at first. The imperfect is not as important because you can often use the passé composé.

For example, to say "I foresee," you will say "j' aperçois."

Subject Present Future Imperfect
j' aperçois apercevrai apercevais
tu aperçois apercevras apercevais
il aperçoit apercevra apercevait
nous apercevons apercevrons apercevions
vous apercevez apercevrez aperceviez
ils aperçoivent apercevront apercevaient

Apercevoir's Present Participle

The present participle of apercevoir is apercevant. The -​ant ending is similar to the -ing we use in English. It can also act as an adjective, gerund, or noun if need be.

The Passé Composé of Apercevoir

In French, it's very common to use the passé composé for the past tense. This makes the conjugation easier, because you only have to remember the past participle for the verb. In this case, that is aperçu.

You also need to use an auxiliary verb, which is avoir in this case. When we put this together with the past participle, we can say "I foresaw." In French, this is "j'ai aperçu." The "ai" is the conjugate for avoir.

More Conjugations for Apercevoir

It's not like apercevoir isn't complicated enough, but we also have to add a few more conjugations into the mix. These are not as important, particularly the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive because these two are used in formal writing. However, you should be aware of them.

You may use the subjunctive and conditional forms from time to time. The subjunctive is a verb mood that implies the uncertainty of the verb. The conditional means just that: the verb is dependent on the conditions. 

In the case of apercevoir, these two forms are actually quite useful. Given the nature of the word -- as a perception that is not necessarily tangible nor true -- you may find use for these conjugations in conversation. If you tend to skip other subjunctives and conditionals, consider spending some time on these.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
j' aperçoive apercevrais aperçus aperçusse
tu aperçoives apercevrais aperçus aperçusses
il aperçoive apercevrait aperçut aperçût
nous apercevions apercevrions aperçûmes aperçussions
vous aperceviez apercevriez aperçûtes aperçussiez
ils aperçoivent apercevraient aperçurent aperçussent

One last conjugation and we're done with apercevoir. This time, it is the imperative, which is another mood often used in short, direct commands or requests.

In the imperative conjugation, you can forget about the pronoun as it is implied in the verb. Instead of saying "nous apercevons," you can simply say "apercevons."

(tu) aperçois
(nous) apercevons
(vous) apercevez

Another Verb for "to Foresee"

You might have noticed that apercevoir ends with voir, which means "to see." The prefix changes it to "foresee," which is exactly what happens with prévoir. You can look at prévoir as "pre-seeing" to remember the correlation.

Because apercevoir and prévoir both mean "to foresee," you can use the latter in the right context. The conjugations are very similar, so learning how to conjugate prévoir as well may not be a bad idea.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the Verb "Apercevoir" (to catch sight of)." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Conjugate the Verb "Apercevoir" (to catch sight of). Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the Verb "Apercevoir" (to catch sight of)." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).