Conjugate the Irregular French Verb Boire (to Drink)

Boire is so irregular that you'll need to memorize it

Woman drinking wine
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Boire, meaning "to drink," is a very common French verb that is also a highly irregular -re verb. Below, you'll find its simple conjugations and usage.

Strongly Irregular Verb

There are regular -er verbs and there are irregular -er verbs, and the irregular group can be organized into essentially five patterns around the verbs prendre, battre, mettre, rompre, and those that end with the root word -craindre. 

But boire does not fit any of these patterns. It belongs to the remaining irregular -re verbs, which have such unusual or unwieldy conjugations that you have to memorize each one separately. These are very common and important verbs, so you need to learn them in order to communicate effectively in French.

Try memorizing one verb a day until you've mastered them all. They include: absoudre, clore, conclure, conduire, confire, connaître, coudre, croire, dire, écrire, faire, inscrire, lire, moudre, naître, plaire, rire, suivre, and vivre.

Tips on Conjugating Boire

Though boire is generally used in everyday language to mean "to drink," it can be used idiomatically, as in boire un coup ("to have a drink"). The verb prendre ("to take") can also stand in for boire, as in the expression prendre un verre, "to have a drink" or "to have one drink."

Note that in the conjugations below, ​the root of the verb changes from boi- in the present singular to buv- in the present plural, which continues in the imperfect tense.

Present Indicative

JeboisJe bois de l'eau tous les jours.I drink water every day.
TuboisEst-ce que tu bois du thé?Do you drink tea?
Il/Elle/OnboitElle boit du café.She drinks coffee.
NousbuvonsNous ne buvons pas.We don't drink.
VousbuvezVous buvez pour les trois.You drink for the three of us.
Ils/EllesboiventElles boivent trop tous les soirs.They drink too much every night.

Compound Past Indicative

The passé composé is a past tense that can be translated as the simple past or the present perfect. For the verb boire, it is formed with the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle bu​.

J'ai buJ'ai bu pas mal hier soir.I drank quite a lot last night?
Tuas buTu n'as pas bu assez de l'eau aujourd'hui.You didn't drink enough water today.
Il/Elle/Ona buIl a bu tout seul.He drank all alone.
Nousavons buNous avons bu du bon vin hier.We drank some good wine yesterday.
Vousavez buVous avez bu tout ça?You drank all that?
Ils/Ellesont buElles ont bu du bon whisky.They drank some good whiskey.

Imperfect Indicative

The imperfect tense is another form of a past tense, but it is used to talk about ongoing or repeated actions in the past. L'imparfait of the verb boire can be translated to English as "was drinking,” “would drink," or "used to drink," although it can sometimes also be translated as the simple "drank," depending on the context.

JebuvaisJe buvais le panaché avant que vous arriviez.I was drinking a panache before you got here.
TubuvaisTu buvais seulement de l'eau avant.You used to only drink water.
Il/Elle/OnbuvaitElle buvait trop quand elle était jeune.She used to drink too much when she was young.
NousbuvionsNous buvions ensemble tous les vendredis.We would drink together every Friday.
VousbuviezVous buviez du pastis si je me rappelle bien.You used to drink pastis if I remember it right.
Ils/EllesbuvaientElles ne buvaient jamais quand je les ai connu.They never used to drink when I knew them.

Simple Future Indicative

To talk about the future in English, in most cases we simply add the modal verb "will." In French, however, the future tense is formed by adding different endings to the infinitive.  

JeboiraiJe boirai à ta santé.I will drink to your health.
TuboirasTu boiras avec nous ce soir?Will you drink with us tonight?
Il/Elle/OnboiraElle ne boira plus jamais.She won't drink ever again.
NousboironsNous boirons ensemble encore.We will drink together again.
VousboirezVous boirez ainsi pour l'aimtié.And so you will drink to friendship.
Ils/EllesboirontElles boiront ainsi pour les maris attentifs.And so they will drink to caring husbands.

Near Future Indicative

Another form of a future tense is the near future, the futur proche, which is the equivalent of the English "going to + verb." In French, the near future is formed with the present tense conjugation of the verb aller (to go) + the infinitive (boire).

Jevais boireJe vais boire un verre à la fin de ma journée.I am going to have a drink at the end of my day.
Tuvas boireTu vas boire de bon vins quand tu reviens.You are going to drink some good wines when you come back.
Il/Elle/Onva boireElle va boire avec ses amis.She is going to drink with her friends.
Nousallons boireNous allons boire un coup après boulot.We are going to have a drink after work.
Vousallez boireVous allez boire quoi?What are you drinking?
Ils/Ellesvont boireElles vont boire à votre santé.They'll drink to your health.

Conditional

The conditional mood in French is equivalent to the English "would + verb." Notice that the endings it adds to the infinitive are very similar to those in the imperfect indicative.

JeboiraisJe boirais si je ne devais pas travailler.I would drink if I didn't have to work.
TuboiraisTu ne boirais pas ça, ou si?You wouldn't drink that, would you?
Il/Elle/OnboiraitElle boirait toute la nuit si elle pouvait.She would drink all night long if she could.
NousboirionsEt nous boirions du champagne.And so we would drink champagne.
VousboiriezPourquoi ne boiriez-vous une bière?Have a beer.
Ils/EllesboiraientElles ont promis qua la prochaine fois elles boiraient de la tequila.They promised next time they'll drink some tequila.

Present Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood conjugation of boire, which comes in after the expression que + person, looks very much like the present indicative and past imperfect.

Que jeboiveCa te gêne pas que je boive?You don't mind if I drink?
Que tuboivesElle n'aime pas que tu boives en travaillant.She doesn't like when you drink at work.
Qu'il/elle/onboiveMaintenant il faut qu'on boive tous.Now we all have to drink.
Que nousbuvionsJe propose que nous buvions au Vésuve!I suggest we drink to Vesuvius!
Que vousbuviezVos mères ne voulaient pas que vous buviez.Your mothers didn't want you to drink.
Qu'ils/ellesboiventQu'elles boivent de la bière!It's weird that they're drinking beer.

Imperative

The imperative mood is used to express demands, requests, direct exclamations, or to give commands, both positive and negative. They have the same verb form, but the negative commands include ne...pas, ne...plus, or ne...jamais around the verb.

Positive Commands

Tubois!Bois ça!Drink this!
Nousbuvons!Buvons à sa santé!Let's drink to his health!
Vousbuvez!Buvez avec moi!Drink with me!


Negative Commands

Tune bois pas!Ne bois pas tout seul!Don't drink all alone!
Nousne buvons pas!Ne buvons plus!Let's not drink anymore!
Vousne buvez pas!Ne buvez pas avec eux!Don't drink with them!

​Present Participle/Gerund

One of the uses of the present participle is to form the gerund (usually preceded by the preposition en), which can be used to talk about simultaneous actions. Otherwise, present participle is also used as a verb, adjective, or a noun.

Present Participle/Gerund of BoirebuvantDes photos de moi buvant le whisky.Pictures of me drinking whiskey.