How to Conjugate the French Irregular Verb 'Écrire' ('to Write')

"Écrire" is very irregular so memorize it to use it correctly

woman writing in notebook
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Écrire is one of the most irregular -re verbs. Irregular  French verbs are so named because they do not follow any of the regular conjugation patterns. In the table below are the simple conjugations of this irregular -re verb; they do not include the compound tenses, which consist of a form of the auxiliary verb and the past participle.

No Patterns

There are irregular -re verbs that fall into patterns, which makes them a little easier to conjugate.

They are centered around the verbs prendre, battre, mettre and rompre, and around verbs that end in -aindre, -eindre, and -oindre.

But écrire does not fall into these groups. It is lumped together with the remaining -re verbs, verbs with such unusual and unwieldy conjugations that each is very different. This means you must memorize each one separately, which is what you'll need to do with écrire. Try memorizing one of these a day until you mastered them: absoudre, boire, clore, conclure, conduire, confire, connaître, coudre, croire, dire, faire, inscrire, lire, moudre, naître, plaire, rire, suivre,  and vivre.

Conjugate Verbs Ending in "-crire"

Despite the irregularity of this verb, there is one basic rule to keep in mind as you study its conjugations: Écrire has derivative verbs ending in -crire, and they are all conjugated like écrire. In short, all French verbs ending in -crire are conjugated like écrire.

Here are a few:

  • Circonscrire > to contain, to confine
  • Décrire > to describe
  • Inscrire > to write down, inscribe
  • Prescrire > to prescribe
  • Proscrire > to ban, prohibit
  • Récrire > to rewrite
  • Souscrire > to subscribe
  • Transcrire > to transcribe

Using "Écrire"

Écrire has a few related meanings. It means "to write," as in "Write a sentence," "to spell" as in "This word is written/spelled with an s," "to note or record in writing," as in "Write down your thoughts," and "to compose" as in "Write a story or letter." It can be helpful—before studying the conjugations—to view écrire as it is used in various French phrases.

  • Écrire un poulet > Write a gallant message
  • Écrire comme un chat > Write in small, illegible letters
  • Écrire sous la dictée de quelqu'un > Write down what someone has dictated
  • Écrire en caractères d'imprimerie > Write in block letters
  • Écrire sous couvert de quelqu'un > Write in collaboration with someone, ghostwrite

Simple Conjugations of "Écrire"

 Present Future Imperfect Present participle
j'écrisécriraiécrivaisécrivant
tuécrisécrirasécrivais 
ilécritécriraécrivaitPassé composé
nousécrivonsécrironsécrivions   Auxiliary verb avoir
vousécrivezécrirezécriviez   Past participleécrit
ilsécriventécrirontécrivaient 
 
 Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive
j'écriveécriraisécrivisécrivisse
tuécrivesécriraisécrivisécrivisses
ilécriveécriraitécrivitécrivît
nousécrivionsécririonsécrivîmesécrivissions
vousécriviezécririezécrivîtesécrivissiez
ilsécriventécriraientécrivirentécrivissent
 
 Imperative
(tu)écris   
 
(nous) écrivons 
(vous)écrivez 

Example Sentences

"Collins French Verbs," which provides conjugations of dozens of French verbs, gives these examples of écrire as it is used in everyday French:

  • Elle écrit des novels. > She writes the novels.
  • Écrivez votre nom en aut de la feuille. > Write your name at the top of the page.
  • Il ne nou écrivait jamals quand il était en France. > He never wrote to use when he was in France.