How to Conjugate the French Verb Découvrir

Discover French Verb Conjugations

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In French, the verb découvrir means "to discover" or "to uncover." When you want to change it to the past tense "discovered" or the future tense "will uncover," you will need to conjugate the verb.

French verbs are rarely simple to conjugate, and découvrir is one of the more challenging. However, a short lesson will run you through the basics.

Conjugating the French Verb Découvrir

Découvrir is an irregular verb, meaning it does not follow a common verb conjugation pattern. Yet, it is not alone because the majority of French verbs that end in -frir or -vrir, including ouvir (to open), are conjugated in the same way.

The challenge of conjugating in French is that you not only take into account the present, future, or past tense when changing the infinitive ending. There is also a separate ending for each subject pronoun within each of those tenses. That means you have more words to dedicate to your memory.

Study this table to learn the correct forms of découvrir. Simply pair the subject pronoun with the proper tense: "I discover" is "je découvre" and "we will discover" is "nous découvrirons." Practicing these in context is a good way to help memorize them.

Subject Present Future Imperfect
je découvre découvrirai découvrais
tu découvres découvriras découvrais
il découvre découvrira découvrait
nous découvrons découvrirons découvrions
vous découvrez découvrirez découvriez
ils découvrent découvriront découvraient

Present Participle

Adding -ant to the verb stem découvr- creates the present participle découvrant. It's useful beyond a verb and can also become an adjective, gerund, or noun when needed.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

The past participle of découvrir is découvert. This is used to form the common past tense known as the passé composé. To use it, you will also need to conjugate the auxiliary verb avoir.

For example, "I discovered" is "j'ai découvert" and "we discovered" is "nous avons découvert."

More Simple Conjugations

There may be times when you will find a use for the subjunctive or conditional verb forms of découvrir as well. The subjunctive verb mood implies that the act of discovering is subjective or uncertain. Similarly, the conditional verb mood says that discovering will only happen if something else takes place.

The passé simple is primarily found in literature and formal writing. The same applies to the imperfect subjunctive. While you may not use them yourself, being able to recognize these as a form of découvrir is a good idea.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je découvre découvrirais découvris découvrisse
tu découvres découvrirais découvris découvrisses
il découvre découvrirait découvrit découvrît
nous découvrions découvririons découvrîmes découvrissions
vous découvriez découvririez découvrîtes découvrissiez
ils découvrent découvriraient découvrirent découvrissent

To use découvrir in the imperative form, there is no need to include the subject pronoun. Instead of "tu découvre," simplify it to "découvre."

(tu) découvre
(nous) découvrons
(vous) découvrez
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Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the French Verb Découvrir." ThoughtCo, Jan. 3, 2022, Team, ThoughtCo. (2022, January 3). How to Conjugate the French Verb Découvrir. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the French Verb Découvrir." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).