French Verb Conjugator: How To Conjugate French Verbs

Bookmark this page of common regular and irregular verb conjugations.

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Conjugating French verbs can be a real nightmare. But below are some rules to live by when pondering how to conjugate regular and irregular verbs. Plus, you'll find the conjugations of the top 10 verbs in the French language.

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What Does It Mean to Conjugate a Verb?

In French, as in English, the verb may change according to the person who is speaking and the context:

I am, you she/he/it is, we/you/they are, she danced, he ran, we sang, she could have had...

That is what conjugating a verb means. It's basically finding the correct verb form according to components of the sentence: the subject, the tense, the mood and the voice.

French Verb Conjugations

In English, there are irregular verb tenses like "sing, sang, sung" that you have to learn by heart. Otherwise, it's usually a question of adding an "s" to he/she/it form in the present (she talks), "ed" in the past (she talked), and "will" and "would" for the future and conditional (she will talk, she would talk). Of course, this is a simplification. But overall, conjugating an English verb is not so difficult.

French verbs typically have different endings for almost every subject pronoun (je, tu, il-elle-on, nous, vous, ils-elles), and the same for the tenses and moods. So coming up with the right ending, even if you know which tense to use, can be a real challenge.

Regular French Verb Conjugations 

Some verbs have predictable conjugation patterns, which makes conjugating them a bit easier. See how these regular verb types are conjugated:

  1. regular -er verbs
  2. regular -ir verbs
  3. regular -re verbs

Irregular French Verb Conjugations

But these irregularities make conjugating them harder.

In the chart below are the most common French irregular verbs. At the very top of the list are être (to be) and avoir (to have), which are used to build compound tenses in French (such as passé composé; these are called auxiliary verbs.

J'ai étudié > I studied
Je suis allé(e) > I went

Conjugations of the Most Common French Irregular Verbs 

Conjugation of ÊtreConjugation of Pouvoir
Conjugation of AvoirConjugation of Devoir
Conjugation of AllerConjugation of Prendre
Conjugation of FaireConjugation of Dire
Conjugation of VouloirConjugation of Savoir

There is a substantial difference between their written from and their pronunciation.

So first review your English grammar a bit, and then follow these links in order to get a sense for it all.

  1. What is a verb mood ? What is a verb voice?
  2. What is a verb tense?
    A tense refers to a verb form that expresses the time of the verb's action. Make sure you read these links thoroughly. They will usually tell you when to use the tense and how to build this tense in French.
     * Le Présent - Present
     * L' Imparfait - Imperfect
     * Le Passé composé - Present perfect
     * Le Passé simple - Preterite, Simple past
     * Le Plus-que-parfait - Pluperfect
     * Le Futur - Future
     * Le Futur antérieur - Future perfect

    Once you've understood the logic behind the conjugations, you need to practice them in context. (There is theory, and then there is practice.) Learning French in context is the best way to memorize both grammar and vocabulary.

    How To Memorize French Verb Conjugations

    Concentrate on the most useful tenses (présent, imparfait, passé composé) and get used to using them in context. Then once you've mastered them, move on to the rest.

    Also strongly recommended: training with an audio source. There are many liaisons, elisions and modern glidings used with French verbs, and the written form may fool you into a mistaken pronunciation. 

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    Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "French Verb Conjugator: How To Conjugate French Verbs." ThoughtCo, Oct. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/french-verb-conjugation-1368981. Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. (2017, October 19). French Verb Conjugator: How To Conjugate French Verbs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-verb-conjugation-1368981 Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "French Verb Conjugator: How To Conjugate French Verbs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-verb-conjugation-1368981 (accessed December 14, 2017).