How to Conjugate "Exister" (to Exist) in French

A Verb Conjugation for "Existed" or "Existing"

The French verb for "to exist" is exister. This should be an easy one to remember because it's so similar to the English word. Now, when you want to change it to the past tense "existed," you will need to conjugate it. This is relatively simple and a quick lesson will show you how it's done.

Conjugating the French Verb Exister

Exister is a regular -ER verb, which is the most common verb conjugation pattern found in the French language. This means that once you learn how to conjugate exister, you can apply the same endings to other verbs like éviter (to avoid) and emprunter (to borrow), among countless others.

To conjugate exister into the present, future, or imperfect past tense, begin by identifying the verb stem: exist-. We will then add a new ending for each subject pronoun and tense. For instance, "I exist" is "j'existe" while "we will exist" is "nous existerons."

It's quite simple, particularly with a familiar word like this. To memorize these, practice them in context.

Subject Present Future Imperfect
j' existe existerai existais
tu existes existeras existais
il existe existera existait
nous existons existerons existions
vous existez existerez existiez
ils existent existeront existaient

The Present Participle of Exister

The present participle of exister is existant. Notice how this is as simple as adding -ant to the verb stem, which is how most present participles are formed. This is a verb and can also be an adjective, gerund, or noun in certain contexts.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

The passé composé is a common way to say the past tense "existed" in French. To form it, you need to attach the past participle existé to the subject pronoun and conjugate of avoir (an auxiliary, or "helping," verb).

It comes together quite easily. For instance, "I existed" is "j'ai existé" and "we existed" is "nous avons existé."

More Simple Exister Conjugations to Learn

It's important to concentrate on the exister forms above as they're used most often. When you're comfortable with those, add the rest of these simple conjugations to your vocabulary. 

The subjunctive form is used when the action of "existing" is uncertain. Likewise, the conditional verb mood relies on something: if this happens, then this will "exist." The passé simple and imperfect subjunctive are reserved primarily for formal writing.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
j' existe existerais existai existasse
tu existes existerais existas existasses
il existe existerait exista existât
nous existions existerions existâmes existassions
vous existiez existeriez existâtes existassiez
ils existent existeraient existèrent existassent

To express  exister in a short, direct statement, the imperative verb form may be used. When doing so, skip the subject pronoun as it is implied within the verb. Rather than " tu existe," use "existe" alone.

(tu) existe
(nous) existons
(vous) existez
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Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate "Exister" (to Exist) in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Conjugate "Exister" (to Exist) in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate "Exister" (to Exist) in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).