French Verb Avoir Conjugation

Avoir Conjugation, Usage, and Examples

Man ordering french fries through a counter window
Il a des frites. (He has some fries.). Sam Salek / EyeEm / Getty Images

The French irregular verb avoir, which means "to have", is one of the most frequently used of all French verbs. Avoir is also an auxiliary verb, which means it's used to form compound tenses, such as the passé composé. Since most French verbs use avoir to form their compound tenses, it is essential to memorize and understand avoir. 

Some of the conjugations of avoir are so irregular that you have to simply memorize them.

In this article you can find the most frequently used conjugations of avoir: the present, present progressive, compound past, imperfect, simple future, and near future indicative, the conditional, the present subjunctive, as well as the imperative and the gerund.

Pronunciation of 'Avoir'  

Be careful with the pronunciation of this verb. In formal French, there are many sound liaisons involved with the pronunciation of avoir:

  • Nous avons > Nous Z-avons
  • Vous avez > Vous Z-avez
  • Ils/Elles ont > Ils Z-ont (silent t)

Many students confuse the pronunciation of ils ont (aller, Z sound) and ils sont (être, S sound), so be careful with that as well. 

In informal modern French, there are a lot of "glidings" (elisions). For example, tu as is pronounced ta.

Glidings are also evident with everyday pronunciations of the common expression il y a (there is/there are):

  • il y a = ya
  • il n'y a pas (de) = yapad
  • il y en a = yan na

    Idiomatic Expressions With 'Avoir' 

    Avoir is used in many French expressions. Here are some examples: 

    • J'ai faim. > I'm hungry.
    • J'ai soif. > I'm thirsty. 
    • J'ai chaud > I'm hot (I feel hot)
    • avoir ___ ans > to be ___ years old
    • avoir besoin de > to need
    • avoir envie de > to want

    Present Indicative

    The following are the conjugations for the present indicative.

    JeaiJ'ai une grande famille.I have a big family.
    TuasTu as trois soeurs. You have three sisters.
    Ils/Elles/OnaElle a beaucoup d'amis.She has many friends.
    NousavonsNous avons une nouvelle voiture.We have a new car.
    VousavezVous avez deux chiens.You have two dogs.
    Ils/EllesontElles ont les yeux verts.They have green eyes.

    Present Progressive Indicative

    The present progressive in French can be expressed with the simple present tense, or with the expression être en train de, formed with the present tense conjugation of the verb être (to be) + en train de + the infinitive verb (avoir). However, this verb form is not very commonly used with the verb avoir in the sense of possessing something, although it might be used to say one is currently having a discussion, having a baby, having a revelation or feeling. Therefore, the examples in this sections will all contain such uses of avoir.

    Jesuis en train d'avoir Je suis en train d'avoir une discussion avec mon ami.I am having a discussion with my friend.
    Tues en train d'avoirTu es en train d'avoir un bébé.You are having a baby.
    Ils/Elles/Onest en train d'avoirElle est en train d'avoir un débat avec sa classe. She is having a debate with her class.
    Noussommes en train d'avoirNous sommes en train d'avoir un accident. We are having an accident.
    Vousêtes en train d'avoirVous êtes en train d'avoir une transformation. You are having a transformation.
    Ils/Ellessont en train d'avoirElles sont en train d'avoir une conversation.They are having a conversation. 


    Compound Past Indicative

    The passé composé is a form of the past tense that can be translated to English as the simple past or the present perfect. It is formed with the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle eu (pronounced as a single sound, u, as in tu). Note that avoir is thus both the verb for the auxiliary and for the past participle, just like in English "have had". Also, avoir in the passé composé is not commonly used for the meaning of possessing an object (for that purpose you would use the imperfect), but for other expressions using avoir such as to have a discussion, a transformation, an accident, etc. 

    Jeai euJ'ai eu une discussion avec mon ami.I had a discussion with my friend.
    Tuas euTu as eu un bébé.You had a baby.
    Ils/Elles/Ona euElle a eu un débat avec sa classe.She had a debate with her class.
    Nousavons euNous avons eu un accident.We had an accident.
    Vousavez euVous avez eu une transformation.You had a transformation.
    Ils/Ellesont euElles ont eu une conversation.They had a conversation.

    Imperfect Indicative

    The imperfect is another form of the past tense, which can be used to talk about ongoing events or repeated actions in the past, and is usually translated to English as "was having" or "used to have", but it can also be translated as the simple past "had".

    JeavaisJ'avais une grande famille.I used to have a big family.
    TuavaisTu avais trois soeurs. You used to have three sisters.
    Ils/Elles/OnavaitElle avait beaucoup d'amis.She used to have many friends.
    NousavionsNous avions une nouvelle voiture.We used to have a new car.
    VousaviezVous aviez deux chiens.You used to have two dogs.
    Ils/EllesavaientElles avaient les yeux verts.They used to have green eyes.

    Simple Future Indicative

    The following are the conjugations for simple future.

    JeauraiJ'aurai une grande famille.I will have a big family.
    TuaurasTu auras trois soeurs. You will have three sisters.
    Ils/Elles/OnauraElle aura beaucoup d'amis.She will have many friends.
    NousauronsNous aurons une nouvelle voiture.We will have a new car.
    VousaurezVous aurez deux chiens.You will have two dogs.
    Ils/EllesaurontElles auront les yeux verts.They will have green eyes.

    Near Future Indicative

    The near future is formed using the present tense conjugation of the verb aller (to go) + the infinitive (avoir). It is translated to English as "going to + verb." 

    Jevais avoirJe vais avoir une grande famille.I am going to have a big family.
    Tuvas avoirTu vas avoir trois soeurs. You are going to have three sisters.
    Ils/Elles/Onva avoirElle va avoir beaucoup d'amis.She is going to have many friends.
    Nousallons avoirNous allons avoir une nouvelle voiture.We are going to have a new car.
    Vousallez avoirVous allez avoir deux chiens.You are going to have two dogs.
    Ils/Ellesvont avoirElles vont avoir les yeux verts.They are going to have green eyes.

    Conditional

    The conditional mood can be translated to English as "would + verb." In French it can be used to talk about hypothetical or possible events, to form if clauses, or to express polite requests.

    JeauraisJ'aurais une grande famille si je pouvais.I would have a big family if I could.
    TuauraisTu aurais trois soeurs si c'était possible. You would have three sisters if it were possible.
    Ils/Elles/OnauraitElle aurait beaucoup d'amis si elle était plus aimable.She would have many friends if she were more kind.
    NousaurionsNous aurions une nouvelle voiture si nous avions d'argent.We would have a new car if we had money.
    VousauriezVous auriez deux chiens, mais vos parents ne le permettent pas.You would have two dogs, but your parents don't allow it.
    Ils/EllesauraientElles auraient les yeux verts si elles pouvaient choisir.They would have green eyes if they could choose.

    Present Subjunctive

    The present subjunctive in French is used to talk about events that are uncertain.

    JeaieMa mère souhaite que j'ai une grande famille.My mother wishes that I have a big family.
    TuaiesChloë est contente que tu aies trois soeurs. Chloë is happy that you have three sisters.
    Ils/Elles/OnaitIl est important que tu ait beaucoup d'amis.It is important that you have many friends.
    NousayonsEric est ravi que nous ayons une nouvelle voiture.Eric is thrilled that we have a new car.
    VousayezCéline conseille que vous ayez deux chiens.Céline advises that you have two dogs.
    Ils/EllesaientPierre aime qu'elles aient les yeux verts.Pierre loves that they have green eyes.

    Imperative

    To give orders or commands you need the imperative mood. It is not very common to command someone to possess something, but there are some cases in which you would use the imperative with avoir, such as when telling someone to have patience. Notice that the negative commands are simply formed by placing ne...pas around the positive command.

    Positive commands

    Tuaie !Aie de la patience avec les enfants !Have patience with the children!
    Nousayons !Ayons confiance en nos parents !Let's have faith in our parents!
    Vousayez !Ayez de la compassion pour tous !Have compassion for everyone!

    Negative commands

    Tun'aie pas !N'aie pas de patience avec les enfants !Don't have patience with the children!
    Nousn'ayons pas !N'ayons pas de confiance en nos parents!Let's not have faith in our parents!
    Vousn'ayez pas !N'ayez pas de compassion pour tous !Don't have compassion for everyone!

    Present Participle/Gerund

    The present participle can be used to form the gerund (usually preceded by the preposition en), which can be used to talk about simultaneous actions.

    Present Participle/Gerund of AvoirayantElle prend la décision en ayant en tête les problèmes. She makes the decision while having the problems in mind.