How to Conjugate "Écouter" (to Listen to) in French

"Listen" for These Simple Verb Conjugations in Conversation

Woman sitting near window in train listening to music
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When you want to say "to listen to" in French, use the verb écouter. In order to change it to the past tense "listened to" or the future tense "will listen to," a simple verb conjugation is required. A short lesson in the most common forms of this useful verb will show you how that's done.

Conjugating the French Verb Écouter

Écouter is a regular -ER verb and it follows a very common conjugation pattern. This is good news for students who find these challenging because you can apply the infinitive endings you learn here to many other verbs. These include assister (to assist) and donner (to give).

To change écouter to the present, future, or imperfect past tense, simply match the appropriate subject pronoun to the tense. For instance, "I listen to" is "j'écoute" and "we listen to" is "nous écouterons."

Subject Present Future Imperfect
j' écoute écouterai écoutais
tu écoutes écouteras écoutais
il écoute écoutera écoutait
nous écoutons écouterons écoutions
vous écoutez écouterez écoutiez
ils écoutent écouteront écoutaient

The Present Participle of Écouter

The present participle also builds off the verb stem with the -ant ending to form écoutant. This is an adjective, gerund, or noun in some circumstances as well as a verb.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

The passé composé is a familiar way to express the past tense "listened to" in French. To construct it, conjugate the auxiliary verb avoir to fit the subject pronoun, then attach the past participle écouté. For example, "I listened to" becomes "j'ai écouté" and "we listened to" is "nous avons écouté."

More Simple Écouter Conjugations

Should you wish to express that the action of listening is questionable or not guaranteed, use the subjunctive verb mood. Similarly, when the action is dependent on something else happening, the conditional verb mood is employed.

In formal writing, you will come across either the passé simple or the imperfect subjunctive forms of écouter. Recognizing these will improve your reading comprehension.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
j' écoute écouterais écoutai écoutasse
tu écoutes écouterais écoutas écoutasses
il écoute écouterait écouta écoutât
nous écoutions écouterions écoutâmes écoutassions
vous écoutiez écouteriez écoutâtes écoutassiez
ils écoutent écouteraient écoutèrent écoutassent

The imperative verb mood is used in short and often assertive statements. When using it, there's no need to include the subject pronoun: use "écoute" rather than "tu écoute."

Imperative

(tu)        écoute

(nous)   écoutons

(vous)   écoutez