Languages › French How to Conjugate the French Verb 'Dire' (to Say) Share Flipboard Email Print Ezra Bailey / Getty Images French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers Table of Contents Expand Dire As an Irregular "-re" Verb Verbs Ending in "-dire" Are Conjugated Like Dire Simple Conjugations of Dire The Many Meanings of Dire Using Se Dire French Expressions With Dire By ThoughtCo Updated November 04, 2019 Dire means "to say" or "to tell" and it is one of the 10 most common verbs in the French language. It is also an irregular verb, which can pose a challenge to French students. However, in this lesson, we'll go through the most basic conjugations of dire and learn its various meanings. We'll also give you plenty of practice using it in common French expressions. Dire As an Irregular "-re" Verb There are regular -er verbs and irregular -er verbs; dire is an irregular -re verb. The irregular group can be organized into five patterns around the verbs prendre, battre, mettre, rompre and those ending in -craindre. The problem is that dire does not fit into these patterns at all. 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 really do have to learn them in order to communicate effectively in French. Try working on one verb a day until you've mastered them all. Beyond dire, the list includes boire (to drink), conclure (to conclude), conduire (to drive), connaître (to know), coudre (to sew), croire (to believe), écrire (to write), faire (to make), inscrire (to write down), lire (to read), naître (to be born), plaire (to please), rire (to laugh), suivre (to follow), and vivre (to live). Verbs Ending in "-dire" Are Conjugated Like Dire Dire is the root of a family of French irregular verbs ending in -dire. All French verbs that have this ending are conjugated in the same way, so that makes each a little easier to learn. There is one exception, though. In the vous form of the indicative and imperative, dire and redire end in -ites, while the other verbs end in -isez. A few of the verbs ending in -dire are: redire - to repeat, say againcontredire - to contradictse dédire - to go back on one's wordinterdire - to forbidmédire - to malignprédire - to predict Simple Conjugations of Dire Dire is an important verb to learn and its most important conjugations are in the indicative mood. These state the action of "saying" as a fact. Make these a priority and memorize them, using short sentences to practice each. The indicative mood of dire includes the basic present, future, and imperfect past tenses. To use the chart, simply pair the subject pronoun with the appropriate tense. For example, "I say" is je dis and "we will tell" is nous disons. Present Future Imperfect je dis dirai disais tu dis diras disais il dit dira disait nous disons dirons disions vous dites direz disiez ils disent diront disaient The present participle of dire is disant. The passé composé of dire is formed using the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle dit. To construct the phrase, combine these two elements with the correct subject pronoun. For instance, "we told" is nous avons dit. You may not use the following verb conjugations as often as the others, but they are useful to know. For example, when you want to give the action of "saying" a little uncertainty, either the subjunctive or the conditional may be appropriate. It's most likely that you'll encounter the passè simple and the imperfect subjunctive in writing. Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive je dise dirais dis disse tu dises dirais dis disses il dise dirait dit dît nous disions dirions dîmes dissions vous disiez diriez dîtes dissiez ils disent diraient dirent dissent When you want to use dire as a command or short request, you can use the imperative form. In this case, there's no need to include the subject pronoun: use dis instead of tu dis. Imperative (tu) dis (nous) disons (vous) dites The Many Meanings of Dire In practice, dire generally means "to say" or "to tell": Je n'ai rien dit. - I didn't say anything.Dis-moi la vérité. - Tell me the truth.Comment dit-on "furthermore" en français ? - How do you say "furthermore" in French? Dire que means "to say that": J'ai dit que j'avais froid. - I said that I was cold.Je vais lui dire qu'il doit nous aider. - I'm going to tell him that he has to help us. Dire de can mean "to think" or "to have an opinion on" or "to feel like": Qu'est-ce que tu dis de mon idée ? - What do you think of my idea?Que dites-vous de la maison ? - What do you think about the house?Ça te dit de sortir ? - Do you feel like going out?Ça ne me dit rien. - I don't feel like it at all. That doesn't do anything for me. Using Se Dire Se dire can be either a pronominal or passive voice construction. In the pronominal, dire can be reflexive ("to say to oneself") or reciprocal ("to say to each other") Reflexive - to say to oneself Je me suis dit de ne pas pleurer. - I told myself not to cry.Il s'est dit, bon, il faut essayer encore une fois. - He said to himself, "Well, I have to try again." Figuratively, the reflexive dire means "to claim (to be)": Il se dit avocat. - He claims to be a lawyer.Elle se dit prête. - She claims she's ready. Reciprocal - to say to each other Nous devons nous dire au revoir. - We have to say goodbye (to each other).Ils se sont enfin dit qu'ils s'aiment. - They finally told each other that they love each other. In the passive construction, se dire means "to be said": Ça ne se dit pas. - That isn't said.Ça ne se dit plus. - That isn't said anymore. People don't say that anymore.Comment ça se dit en espagnol? - How is that said in Spanish? French Expressions With Dire Because it is such a useful verb, there are several colorful, opinionated idiomatic expressions that use dire. Among those are phrases such as: ceci/cela dit - (with) that saidcela va sans dire - that goes without sayingc'est-à-dire - that is (to say)comme on dit - so to speak, as they sayautrement dit - in other wordsvouloir dire - to meanentendre dire - to hear (it said that)à ce qu'il dit - according to himJ'ai entendu dire qu'il va... - I heard that he's going to...on se dirait - you would think, you can almost imagineÇa ne me dit pas grand-chose. - I don't think much of that. You can also use it to say that someone expressed frustration: dire à quelqu'un ses quatre vérités - to give someone a piece of one's minddire à quelqu'un son fait, dire son fait à quelqu'un - to tell someone offdire ce qu'on a sur le cœur - to get something off one's chestdire des sottises / bêtises - to talk nonsense Then, there are a handful of common English phrases that can be translated into French: dire toujours amen - to be a yes-manÀ qui le dis-tu ? - You're telling me!à vrai dire - to tell you the truthaussitôt dit, aussitôt fait - no sooner said than done How to Conjugate the French Verb 'Promettre' ('to Promise') How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Permettre' ('to Allow') Want to Tell Someone Off in French? 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