French Verb Conjugation Using "Essayer" (to Try)

Woman Trying on Shoes

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The French verb essayer means "to try." It's a simple word that can easily be confused with essuyer (to wipe), so be sure to look and listen for that 'A' in essayer.

In order to place essayer into the past, present, or future tense, the verb needs to be conjugated. Just follow along in this lesson and you'll be saying "tried" and "trying" in French before you know it.

Conjugating the French Verb Essayer​​

Essayer is an optional stem-changing verb. Typically with verbs that end in -yer, the 'Y' has to change to an 'I' in certain forms. The rules are a little more casual with essayer as you'll see in the table. When there are two forms of the conjugation, you can use either.

The stem of essayer is essay-. To this, a variety of infinitive endings is added that conform with the subject pronoun as well as the tense of the sentence. For instance, "I try" is "j'essaie" or "j'essaye." Similarly, there are two options for "we will try": "nous essaierons" or "nous essayerons."

All this leaves you with many words to memorize. The good news is that there are many opportunities to practice it and use essayer as you "try" things throughout your day.

Subject Present Future Imperfect
j' essaie
essaye
essaierai
essayerai
essayais
tu essaies
essayes
essaieras
essayeras
essayais
il essaie
essaye
essaiera
essayera
essayait
nous essayons essaierons
essayerons
essayions
vous essayez essaierez
essayerez
essayiez
ils essaient
essayent
essaieront
essayeront
essayaient

The Present Participle of Essayer

The present participle of essayer is essayant. This is as simple as adding -ant to the verb stem. Not only does it work as a verb, but it can also become an adjective, gerund, or noun when needed.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

The past participle essayé is used to form the passé composé, a common past tense form of "tried" in French. To use this, you'll also need to conjugate the auxiliary verb avoir. For example, "I tried" is "j'ai essayé" and "we tried" is "nous avons essayé."

More Simple Essayer Conjugations to Know

When the action of trying is in some way questionable, you can turn to the subjunctive verb mood. Similarly, if it's dependent on something, the conditional verb mood is used.

With less frequency, you will come across the passé simple or the imperfect subjunctive. These are mostly found in formal writing and will help considerably with reading comprehension.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
j' essaie
essaye
essaierais
essayerais
essayai essayasse
tu essaies
essayes
essaierais
essayerais
essayas essayasses
il essaie
essaye
essaierait
essayerait
essaya essayât
nous essayions essaierions
essayerions
essayâmes essayassions
vous essayiez essaieriez
essayeriez
essayâtes essayassiez
ils essaient
essayent
essaieraient
essayeraient
essayèrent essayassent

To use essayer in commands or direct requests, turn to the imperative verb form. When using this, the subject pronoun is not required: use "essaie" instead of "tu essaie."

Imperative
(tu) essaie
essaye
(nous) essayons
(vous) essayez