Donner (to Give) French Verb Conjugations

This French Verb Conjugation Has a Lot "To Give"

Girlfriends exchanging presents
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In its most basic form, the French verb donner means "to give." Yet, it can take on a number of different meanings because it is often used in idiomatic French expressions. In order to use donner to mean "gave" or "giving," the verb must be conjugated and a quick lesson below demonstrates how to do that.

Conjugating the French Verb Donner

Donner is a regular -ER verb. Learning how to conjugate it into any of the simplest forms is relatively straightforward. This is one of the most common verb conjugation patterns in French and it's one you will use all the time.

In order to conjugate donner into the present, future, or any other tense, we must first identify the verb stem, which is donn-. To this, add specific endings so the verb matches the subject pronoun as well as the tense of the sentence. For instance, "I give" is je donne (because first person singular ending in present tense is -e) and "we will give" becomes nous donnerons (as the ending for the simple future tense in first person plural is -erons).

You will find that practicing these forms in context helps greatly in memorizing them.

Present Indicative

Je donne Je te le donne en mille. You'd never guess in a million years.
Tu donnes Tu donnes des orders. You give orders.
Il/Elle/On donne On ne lui donne pas d'âge. You can't tell how old he is.
Nous donnons Nous nous donnons des baisers.  We give each other kisses.
Vous donnez Vous vous donnez du mal à nous aider.  You take great trouble to help us.
Ils/Elles donnent Les sondages le donnent en tête. The polls put him in the lead.

Compound Past Indicative

The passé composé is a past tense that can be translated as the simple past or the present perfect. For the verb donner, it is formed with the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle donné​.

J' ai donné Je lui ai donné 30 ans. I guessed that he is 30.
Tu as donné Tu m'as donné une raison de vivre. You gave me a reason to live.
Il/Elle/On a donné Il m'a donnée ses clés. He gave me (feminine) his keys.
Nous avons donné Nous t'avons donné la voiture. We gave you the car.
Vous avez donné Vous m'avez donné beaucoup. You gave me a lot.
Ils/Elles ont donné Elles ont donné un sense a sa vie. They gave his life a meaning.

Imperfect Indicative

The imperfect tense is another form of the past tense, but it is used to talk about ongoing or repeated actions in the past. It can be translated to English as "was ging" or "used to give," although it can sometimes also be translated as the simple "gave," depending on the context.

Je donnais Je donnais tout mon temps à créer. I devoted all my time to creating.
Tu donnais Tu me donnais de bonnes idées. You used to give me good ideas.
Il/Elle/On donnait Elle donnait leurs jouets aux d'autres enfants. She used to give their toys to other children.
Nous donnions De temps en temps, nous lui donnions un coup de main. From time to time, we would help him out.
Vous donniez Vous donniez de vous-même pour lui. You devoted yourself to him.
Ils/Elles donnaient Elles nous donnaient l'exemple. They set an example for us.

Simple Future Indicative

To talk about the future in English, in most cases we simply add the modal verb "will." In French, however, the future tense is formed by adding different endings to the infinitive

Je donnerai Je te donnerai un baiser demain. I will give you a kiss tomorrow.
Tu donneras Quand est-ce que tu donneras une fête? When will you throw a party? 
Il/Elle/On donnera Elle te donnera sa place. She will give up her seat for you. 
Nous donnerons Nous vous donnerons notre amitié. We will give you our friendship.
Vous donnerez Vous leurs donnerez les instructions nécessaires. You will give them the necessary instructions.
Ils/Elles donneront Ils donneront coup de balai a la fin. They will sweep at the end.

Near Future Indicative

Another form of the future tense is the near future, which is the equivalent to the English "going to + verb." In French, the near future is formed with the present tense conjugation of the verb aller (to go) + the infinitive (aimer).

Je vais donner Je vais donner de l'argent a cet homme-là. I'm going to him money to that man.
Tu vas donner Tu vas lui donner un coup de main? Are you going to help him?
Il/Elle/On va donner Il va nous donner son chaton. He is going to give us his kitty.
Nous allons donner Nous allons nous donner rendez-vous lundi matin. We are going to make an appointment for Monday morning.
Vous allez donner Allez-vous leur donner votre maison? Are you going to give them your house?
Ils/Elles vont donner Elles vont se donner la peine de voyager a travers le pays entier. They're going to go through the trouble of crossing the entire country.

Conditional

The conditional mood in French is equivalent to the English "would + verb." Notice that the endings it adds to the infinitive are very similar to those in the future tense.

Je vais donner Je vais vous donner son adresse. I'm going to give you her address. 
Tu vas donner Tu vas te donner la peine de traduire tout ça? You're going to go through great pains and translate all that?
Il/Elle/On va donner Elle va se donner les moyens de faire tout ce qu'elle veut. She is going to find the means to do anything she wants.
Nous allons donner Nous allons lui donner nos deux sous. We're going to give him our two cents.
Vous allez donner Qu'est-ce que vous allez lui donner comme but? What are you going to make his mission?
Ils/Elles vont donner Elles vont vous donner de l'espoir. They're going to give you hope.

Present Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood conjugation of donner, which comes in after the expression que + person, looks very much like the present indicative and past imperfect.

Que je donne Il est essentiel que je lui donne un bon exemple. It is essential that I give her a good example.
Que tu donnes Je veux que tu lui donnes tes chaussures. I want you to give him your shoes.
Qu'il/elle/on donne Il faut qu'elle me donne son numéro. It is necessary that she gives me her number.
Que nous donnions Il est nécessaire que nous donnions  It is necessary for us to give her our opinion
Que vous donniez Il est naturel que vous vous donniez du temps à réflechir. It is natural that you would give yourselves time to think.
Qu'ils/elles donnent Je voulais qu'elles nous donnent leur opinion sur les actualités. I wanted them to give us their opinion on the current events.

Imperative

The imperative mood is used to give commands, both positive and negative. They have the same verb form, but the negative commands include ne...pas around the verb.

Positive Commands

Tu donne! Donne-le-moi! Give it to me!
Nous donnons! Donnons-leur un moment en privé! Let's give them a moment alone!
Vous donnez! Donnez-lui ce qu'il veut! Give him what he wants!

Negative Commands

Tu ne donne pas! Ne me donne plus tous ces gâteaux! Don't give me all those cakes again!
Nous ne donnons pas! Ne leur donnons pas tout ce qu'on a! Let's not give them everything we have!
Vous ne donnez pas! Ne lui donnez jamais ton adresse! Never give him your address!

Present Participle/Gerund

When we want to use the present participle of donner, -ant is added to the stem. That results in donnant, which can be an adjective, gerund, or noun as well as a verb. One of the uses of the present participle is to form the gerund (usually preceded by the preposition en). The gerund can be used to talk about simultaneous actions.

Present Participle/Gerund of Donner donné Etant donné que je dois travailler beaucoup cette semaine, je ne pourrais pas venir avec vous. Given that I have to work a lot this week, I won't be able to come with you.