Conjugating the Irregular French Verb 'Devenir' (to Become)

"Devenir," highly irregular, is conjugated like "venir" and "tenir"

teenage skaters
"Ils deviennent des hommes." (They are becoming men.). Carsten Goerling / Getty Images

Devenir, "to become," is an irregular French -ir verb, meaning the infinitive ends in -ir. The chart below lists the conjugations of this verb; it does not include compound conjugations, which consist of some form of the auxiliary verb être and the past participle devenu.

"Devenir" Is Highly Irregular

There are two groups within the irregular French -ir verbs, one around verbs like partir and sortir and a second around verbs like offrir and ouvrir, that show some conjugation patterns.

But devenir and similar verbs like venir ("to come), tenir ("to hold, to keep") and others do not fall into these groups, much less any conjugation group. Their conjugations are so unusual and unwieldy that you simply have to memorize them in order to use these verbs correctly

Verbs Ending in "-venir" and "-tenir"

Since devenir is conjugated the same way as similar verbs like venir and tenir, it follows that all French verbs ending in the suffixes -venir and -tenir are also conjugated this way. It makes life a little easier if you know the conjugation of at least one of these verbs; then you can apply the same endings to all like verbs.

Here are some verbs ending in -venir and -tenir, all of which are conjugated in the same very irregular way as devenir, venir, and tenir.

  • Abstenir > to abstain
  • Convenir à > to suit
  • Tenir > to hold, keep 
  • Devenir > to become 
  • Revenir > to come [home], return 
  • Détenir > to hold, detain 
  • Obtenir > to obtain, get 
  • Soutenir > to support, uphold 
  • Parvenir à > to achieve 
  • Entretenir > to look after, maintain 
  • Maintenir > to maintain 
  • Intervenir > to intervene  
  • Retenir > to retain 
  • Prévenir > to warn, prevent
  • Appartenir > to belong to 
  • Contenir > to contain 
  • Survenir > crop up, happen, occur 
  • Provenir > to come from 
  • Advenir > to happen   
  • Subvenir à > to provide for 
  • Contrevenir > to contravene 
  • Circonvenir > to circumvent 

"Devenir": Uses and Expressions

The following expressions show French students how to use devenir in various phrases.

  • Tu es devenue une femme. > You're a woman now.
  • Devenir réalité > to become a reality
  • Devenir vieux > to get or grow old
  • Et moi, qu'est-ce que je vais devenir> What's to become of me?
  • Je ne sais pas ce que je deviendrais sans toi. > I don't know what I'd do without you.
  • Que devenez-vous? > How are you getting on? / How's it going?
  • Et lui, qu'est-ce qu'il devient? > What's he up to these days?
  • À (vous faire) devenir dingue (familier), à (vous faire) devenir fou, à (vous faire) devenir chèvre (familier) > enough to drive you mad / enough to make you scream

Conjugating "Devenir"

The table provides the simple conjugations of devenir in its various tenses and moods.

 Present Future Imperfect Present participle
jedeviensdeviendraidevenaisdevenant
tudeviensdeviendrasdevenais 
ildevientdeviendradevenaitPassé composé
nous devenonsdeviendronsdevenions   Auxiliary verbêtre
vousdevenezdeviendrezdeveniez   Past participle devenu
ilsdeviennentdeviendrontdevenaient 
 
 Subjunctive Conditional  Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive
jedeviennedeviendraisdevinsdevinsse
tudeviennesdeviendraisdevinsdevinsses
ildeviennedeviendraitdevintdevînt
nousdevenionsdeviendrionsdevînmesdevinssions
vousdeveniezdeviendriezdevîntesdevinssiez
ilsdeviennentdeviendraientdevinrentdevinssent
 
 Imperative 
(tu)deviens   
 
(nous) devenons  
(vous)devenez