How to Conjugate "Coudre" (to Sew) in French

Woman Sewing

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When you want to say "sewing" or "sewed" in French, you will conjugate the verb coudre. This means "to sew" and to place it into the past, present, or future tense, a special ending is attached to the verb. The following lesson will show you how that's done.

Conjugating the French Verb Coudre

Coudre is an irregular verb and that poses a special problem in French verb conjugations. Essentially, it means that you must memorize all of these forms. You cannot rely on any of the common conjugation patterns. However, the same endings will apply to other verbs that end in - dre such as découdre (to unpick) and recoudre (to sew back on or stitch up).

Pay special attention to these verb endings and how they're applied to the stem cou-. Match the subject pronoun to the proper tense for your subject using the table. For instance, "I sew" is "je couds" and "we will sew" is "nous coudrons."

Be aware that the "D" changes to an "S" in the imperfect. It does the same in the present and past participles as well as many other conjugations we will discuss below.

Subject Present Future Imperfect
je couds coudrai cousais
tu couds coudras cousais
il coud coudra cousait
nous cousons coudrons cousions
vous cousez coudrez cousiez
ils cousent coudront cousaient

The Present Participle of Coudre

The irregularity of coudre continues in the present participle. Here we see the "S" appear again before the ending -ant. This forms the present participle of cousant. Beyond the verb usage, it can also act as an adjective, gerund, or noun when needed.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

The passé composé is a form of the past tense and, again, the past participle cousu prefers the "S" over the "D." To form the phrase, place the past participle after the subject pronoun and appropriate conjugation of the auxiliary verb avoir.

For example, "I sewed" becomes "j'ai cousu" and "we sewed" is "nous avons cousu."

More Simple Coudre Conjugations

There may be times when you will use or at least encounter the following forms of coudre. While not essential to your memorization practice, it's a good idea to be able to recognize these words.

The subjunctive is used when the verb is subjective or uncertain. The conditional is also a verb mood and is used when the action is dependent on something. It's likely that you will only find the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive in writing.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je couse coudrais cousis cousisse
tu couses coudrais cousis cousisses
il couse coudrait cousit cousît
nous cousions coudrions cousîmes cousissions
vous cousiez coudriez cousîtes cousissiez
ils cousent coudraient cousirent cousissent

The imperative verb form is primarily used in exclamations, demands, and short requests. When using it, you can skip the subject pronoun: use "couds" rather than "tu couds."

Imperative
(tu) couds
(nous) cousons
(vous) cousez