How to Conjugate French Regular -IR Verbs

Learn how to use these "second-conjugation" verbs.

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There are five main kinds of verbs in French: regular -er, -ir, -re, stem-changing, and irregular. Once you've learned the rules of conjugation for each of the first three kinds of verbs, you should have no problem conjugating regular verbs in each of those categories. Regular -ir verbs are the second-largest category of French verbs. Indeed, these verbs are often referred to as second conjugation verbs.

The verb form that ends in -ir is called the infinitive, and -ir is the infinitive ending. (In English, by contrast, the infinitive is the verb preceded by the word "to.") The French verb with the infinitive ending removed is called the stem or radical. 

Conjugating Regular French -ir Verbs

To conjugate regular -ir French verbs, it's best to run through an example, step by step. Conjugate the French word choisir ("to choose"), for example, by following these steps:

  1. Remove the infinitive ending (-ir) to find the stem (also called the "radical").
  2. Note that the stem—the verb without the -ir ending—is chois.
  3. Add the appropriate simple conjugation ending/s shown in the table in the next section.

Note that the conjugation table below does not include the compound tenses, which consist of a form of the auxiliary verb and the past participle. Choisir normally requires the auxiliary verb avoir ("to have") in compound tenses and moods.

For example: J'ai choisi would transelate as "I have chosen." But, if you were to extend the sentence, you would delete the present perfect, as in: J'ai choisi deux légumes verts. > I picked (chose) two green vegetables. 

Example Conjugations

To conjugate an -ir verb in the present tense, remove the infinitive ending and then add the appropriate endings.

For example, here are the present tense conjugations for the regular -ir verbs choisirfinir (to finish), and réussir (to succeed):

Pronoun

Ending

choisir > chois-

finir > fin-

réussir > réuss-

 Je

-is

choisis

finis

réussis

 Tu

-is

choisis

finis

réussis

 Il

-it

choisit

finit

réussit

 Nous

-issons

choisissons

finissons

réussissons

 Vous

-issez

choisissez

finissez

réussissez

 Ils

-issent

choisissent

finissent

réussissent

Some Common French Regular -ir Verbs

French regular -ir verbs, the second largest group of French verbs, share a conjugation pattern. Here are just a few of the most common regular -ir verbs:

  • abolir > to abolish
  • agir > to act
  • avertir >  to warn
  • bâtir > to build
  • bénir > to bless
  • choisir > to choose
  • établir > to establish
  • étourdir > to stun, deafen, make dizzy
  • finir > to finish
  • grossir > to gain weight, get fat
  • guérir > to cure, heal, recover
  • maigrir > to lose weight, get thin
  • nourrir > to feed, nourish
  • obéir > to obey
  • punir > to punish
  • réfléchir > to reflect, think
  • remplir > to fill
  • réussir > to succeed
  • rougir > to blush, turn red
  • vieillir >  to grow old

Exceptions: Irregular - ir Verbs

Most of the French -ir verbs are regular verbs, which conform to the previously discussed rules for conjugation. It's important to keep in mind that there are a number of irregular -ir verbs in French.

These verbs can be tricky, but there is some good news: Only about 50 irregular -ir verbs exist in French, and they have only 16 conjugations. To simplify things further, most of those fall into just three groups.

The first group of irregular -ir verbs is essentially conjugated like the verb partir ("to leave"). This group includes such verbs as:

The second group consists of verbs that end in -llir, -frir,  or, -vrir, and almost all are conjugated like regular -er verbs. Examples of these verbs include:

In the third group, verbs such as tenir ("to hold") and venir ("to come") and their derivatives follow a shared conjugation pattern in the present tense.

Note, however, a major difference in the compound tenses: Venir and most of its derivatives use être as their auxiliary verb, while tenir and its derivatives use avoir.

Wild Cards

The remaining irregular -ir verbs don't follow a pattern. You just have to memorize the conjugations for each of the following verbs separately. Luckily, they are among the most frequently used French verbs, so memorizing their conjugations is completely worth the trouble. They include:

  • acquérir > to acquire  
  • asseoir > to sit
  • avoir > to have
  • conquérir > to conquer
  • courir > to run
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ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate French Regular -IR Verbs." ThoughtCo, May. 14, 2018, thoughtco.com/french-regular-ir-verbs-1368870. ThoughtCo. (2018, May 14). How to Conjugate French Regular -IR Verbs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-regular-ir-verbs-1368870 ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate French Regular -IR Verbs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-regular-ir-verbs-1368870 (accessed June 19, 2018).