How to Conjugate "Dessiner" (to Draw)

"Draw" On Your Knowledge of Other French Verb Conjugations

girl drawing
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How would you say "to draw" in French? If you answered with the verb dessiner, then you would be correct. When you want to change this to the past tense "drew" or the present tense "drawing," then the verb needs to be conjugated. The good news is that this one is relatively straightforward.

Conjugations of the French Verb Dessiner

Dessiner is a regular -ER verb and it follows the most common verb conjugation pattern in the French language. You can use the same infinitive endings you learn in this lesson and apply them to countless other words, including demander (to ask) and diner (to have dinner).

Before any conjugation, we must identify the verb stem and for dessiner, that is dessin-. To this, we can add a variety of endings according to the subject pronoun to help our sentences make sense. As an example, adding a simple -e creates the present tense je form so "I am drawing" becomes "je dessine." Similarly, "we will draw" becomes "nous desinerons."

Subject Present Future Imperfect
je dessine dessinerai dessinais
tu dessines dessineras dessinais
il dessine dessinera dessinait
nous dessinons dessinerons dessinions
vous dessinez dessinerez dessiniez
ils dessinent dessineront dessinaient

The Present Participle of Dessiner

A quick change to an -ant ending and dessiner is transformed into the present participle dessinant. This is a verb, of course, though you might also find it useful as an adjective, gerund, or noun at times.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

For the past tense "drew," the options are the imperfect form or the passé composé. To form the latter, begin by conjugating the auxiliary verb avoir to the subject pronoun, then add the past participle dessiné.

The passé composé comes together quickly: "I drew" is "j'ai dessiné" and "we drew" is "nous avons dessiné."

More Simple Dessiner Conjugations to Learn

As your French improves, you will find uses for other simple forms of dessiner as well. For instance, when the action is uncertain, the subjunctive verb mood is used. In similar fashion, if the drawing requires that something else also happens, you can turn to the conditional verb form.

The passé simple is primarily found in literature, as is the imperfect subjunctive. While you may not use these personally, familiarizing yourself with them will aid your reading comprehension.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je dessine dessinerais dessinai dessinasse
tu dessines dessinerais dessinas dessinasses
il dessine dessinerait dessina dessinât
nous dessinions dessinerions dessinâmes dessinassions
vous dessiniez dessineriez dessinâtes dessinassiez
ils dessinent dessineraient dessinèrent dessinassent

To use dessiner in short, direct statements, the imperative form is used. In this conjugation, keep things short and sweet and forget about including the subject pronoun: use "dessine" rather than "tu dessine."

Imperative
(tu) dessine
(nous) dessinons
(vous) dessinez