How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Boire' ('to Drink')

'Boire' is so irregular that it must be memorized to use it correctly

Woman drinking wine
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Boire, meaning "to drink," is a very common French verb that is also irregular. Below are the simple conjugations of the verb; they do not include the compound tenses, which consist of a form of the auxiliary verb with the past participle.

'Boire' as an Irregular French '-er' Verb

Boire is an -re verb that is highly irregular. 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 boiredoes 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 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, boire, clore, conclure, conduire, confire, connaître, coudre, croire, dire, écrire, faire, inscrire, lire, moudre, naître, plaire, rire, suivre and vivre.

Use of 'Boire'

Boire is generally used in everyday language to mean "to drink," or it can be used idiomatically, as in boire un coup ("to have a drink"). But 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 in the conjugations below, that the root of the verb changes from boi- in the present singular to buv- in the present plural, which continues the to Imperfect tense.

Simple Conjugations of the Irregular French Verb 'Boire'

 Present Future Imperfect Present participle
ilboitboirabuvaitPassé composé
nousbuvonsboironsbuvions   Auxiliary verb avoir
vousbuvezboirezbuviez   Past participlebu
 Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive
(nous) buvons 
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Lawless, Laura K. "How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Boire' ('to Drink')." ThoughtCo, Jun. 9, 2017, Lawless, Laura K. (2017, June 9). How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Boire' ('to Drink'). Retrieved from Lawless, Laura K. "How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Boire' ('to Drink')." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 19, 2018).