Languages › French Conjugating the Major Verbs of French: Avoir, Être, and Faire Meanings, Uses, and Expressions With Links to Full Conjugations Share Flipboard Email Print Marcus Clackson/DigitalVision/Getty Images French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers by ThoughtCo Updated June 20, 2019 The French verbs avoir ("to have"), être ("to be") and faire ("to do or make") are the three most used and, thus, most important verbs in the French language. They are used in some of the ways that we do in English as well as in many idiomatic expressions. Conjugations for all three of these verbs are irregular. In the table below, you'll see the present tense conjugated for each verb and links to the full, detailed conjugations of each. 'Avoir' Uses Avoir, which means "to have" in most senses, has many uses. Avoir à can mean "to have to," but that expression is more commonly translated by devoir. Avoir is the auxiliary for most French verbs in the compound tenses, as in J'ai déjà étudié. ("I have already studied.) J'ai un livre. > I have a book.Nous avons une voiture. > We have a car.J'ai mal à la tête. > I have a headache.J'ai une idée. > I have an idea.J'ai été eu. > I've been had (tricked). 'Avoir' Expressions Avoir is used in a number of idiomatic expressions, many of which are translated by the English verb "to be:" J'ai 30 ans. > I am 30 years old.J'ai soif. > I am thirsty.J'ai froid. > I am cold.Il y a... > There is/are... 'Être' Uses Être, which means "to be" in most instances, is used in idiomatic expressions, as an auxiliary verb for some verbs in the compound tenses, and for the passive voice. Note that even though être is the French equivalent of "to be," there are certain expressions in which you have to use avoir or faire to translate "to be."It is used with adjectives, nouns, and adverbs to describe a temporary or permanent state of being, such as: Il est beau ("He is handsome").Être is also used to describe someone's profession, as in: Mon père est avocat ("My father is a lawyer").And être can be used with the preposition à plus a stressed pronoun to indicate possession, like this: Ce livre est à moi ("This is my book").When talking about the weather, French uses the verb faire (to do/make) rather than être, as in: Quel temps fait-il? ("How's the weather?") 'Être' Expressions There's a long list of idiomatic expressions using être. Here are a few: être bien dans sa peau > to be at ease/comfortable with oneselfêtre dans la mouise (familiar) > to be flat brokeêtre dans son assiette > to feel normal, like oneselfêtre de > to be at/in (figuratively)être en train de + infinitive > to be (in the process of) + present participleêtre sur son trente et un > to be dressed to the ninesen être > to take part inça m'est égal > it's all the same to me c'est > it is c'est + date > it's (date)c'est-à-dire > that is, i.e., I meanC'est la vie! > That's life! 'Faire': Uses Faire is used in numerous idiomatic expressions and in the causative construction. Faire means "to do" and "to make" in most senses that these verbs are used in English, as in Je fais la lessive ("I'm doing the laundry").In French, one takes (not makes) a decision; the expression is prendre une décision, as in: J'ai pris une décision ("I made a decision"). And when "to make" is followed by an adjective, it is translated by rendre, as in: Ça me rend heureux. ("That makes me happy"). 'Faire': Expressions Faire, like avoir and être, is used in many, many idiomatic expressions. Here are a few: 2 et 2 font 4 (math) > 2 plus 2 equals 4faire + infinitive (causative) > to cause something to happen, as inLe froid fait geler l'eau. > Cold makes water freeze.faire + beau or mauvais (weather expressions)Il fait beau or il fait beau temps > It's nice weather / out.Il fait mauvais temp or il fait mauvais temp > The weather is bad. faire attention à > to pay attention to, watch out forfaire bon accueil > to welcomefaire de la peine à quelqu'un > to hurt someone (emotionally or morally)faire de l'autostop > to hitchhikefaire des bêtises > to get into mischieffaire une bêtise > to do something stupid Simple Present Tense of 'Avoir,' 'Être,' and 'Faire Avoir Être Faire j'/je ai suis fais tu as es fais il a est fait nous avons sommes faisons vous avez êtes faites ils ont sont font Continue Reading How to Conjugate the Important French Verb Faire All about Être, a French Super Verb All About 'Avoir,' a French Super Verb How to Say To Do in French Avoir: Conjugation of This Major Irregular French Verb Conjugating the Regular French Verb 'Aimer' ('to Like, Love') How to Conjugate Être Learn How to Use the French Future Perfect How to Conjugate the French Verb Prendre To Speak French, You'll Need to Learn How to Conjugate Voir Conjugating the French Verb Sortir, to Exit How to Conjugate the French Verb Finir How to Conjugate the French Verb Partir Here's How You Use French Semi-Auxiliary Verbs How and When to Use the French Present Participle How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb "Croire"