Conjugating Avancer in French

Looking at the French verb avancer, one can quickly guess that it means "to advance." It needs to be conjugated to take on the meanings of "advanced" or "advancing" and this is relatively easy. Yet, there is a slight change in the spelling that you'll need to know about and this lesson will explain why and how to do it.

The Spelling Changes of Avancer Conjugations

Avancer is a spelling change verb and it is conjugated in the same manner as other verbs that end with -cer. This includes words like annoncer (to announce) and agacer (to annoy). The change in spelling is not significant, though it does serve an important function. 

Typically, when we take a verb into, for instance, the nous present tense, we would replace -er with -ons. When the letter 'C' appears before an 'O' or an 'A,' it is pronounced with a hard 'C' sound, as in "can't." This doesn't work for -cer verbs because we want a soft 'C' sound, which is why the cedilla 'ç'  is used.

While the 'C' sound remains the same in all conjugations of avancer, the spelling does not. This can catch some French students by surprise, so you need to watch your -cer endings.

How to Conjugate Avancer

Now that you know about that little issue, conjugating avancer is relatively easy because it is similar to regular -er verb endings. All you need to do is match the subject pronoun with the present, future, or past (imperfect) tense, and you're good to go.

As an example, "I advance" is "j'avance" and "we will advance" is "nous avancerons." 

Subject Present Future Imperfect
j' avance avancerai avançais
tu avances avanceras avançais
il avance avancera avançait
nous avançons avancerons avancions
vous avancez avancerez avanciez
ils avancent avanceront avançaient

Avancer's Present Participle

The present participle of avancer is avançant. Again, notice how the cedilla is placed before the -ant ending to ensure the soft 'C' pronunciation.

The Passé Composé of Avancer

To form a common past tense of avancer known as passé composé, we need a couple of elements. First, you must conjugate avoir, the auxiliary verb associated with avancer. Then, you will add the past participle of avancé.

As an example, "I advanced" is "j'ai avancé" and "we advanced" is "nous avons avancé." Notice how the ai and avons are conjugates of avoir, though the past participle remains the same with either (and all) subjects.

More Conjugations for Avancer

In the beginning of your French studies, concentrate on the present, future, and past tenses of avancer. As you begin to read and speak more fluently, you'll likely come across and use these other conjugations.

The subjunctive and conditional are relatively common and each implies a certain amount of ambiguity to the action of the verb. In contrast, the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive are found primarily in formal writing and are, therefore, rather rare.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
j' avance avancerais avançai avançasse
tu avances avancerais avanças avançasses
il avance avancerait avança avançât
nous avancions avancerions avançâmes avançassions
vous avanciez avanceriez avançâtes avançassiez
ils avancent avanceraient avancèrent avançassent

There is one last simple conjugation that you should know about. This is the imperative verb form and it's used in short and often direct commands and requests. When using it, there is no need to include the subject pronoun. Simplify "tu avance" to "avance" and you have the correct imperative.

(tu) avance
(nous) avançons
(vous) avancez
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Team, ThoughtCo. "Conjugating Avancer in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Conjugating Avancer in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Conjugating Avancer in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).