All About Paraître

Learn about the French verb paraître

Smiling woman riding train over water
"Tu parais bien heureux" You look very happy. BDLM/Getty Images

Paraître is a very common and useful French verb that means "to look/appear/seem." It is irregular in conjunction and can be used impersonally.

Examples of Paraître in Use

 Paraître can be followed by an adjective, infinitive, or prepositional phrase:

    Tu parais bien heureux
   You look very happy

    Cela paraît être une erreur
   That seems to be a mistake

    Une lueur a paru dans ses yeux
   A gleam appeared in his eye

Paraître can also mean "to make an appearance:"

    Il n'a pas paru à la réunion
   He didn't appear (show up) at the meeting

    Je déteste paraître en public
   I hate appearing in public

Paraître is usually conjugated with avoir as its auxiliary verb in the compound tenses, except in the context of publishing, in which it is often conjugated with être:

    Cet article est paru mi-juin.


   This article was published in mid-June.

    Le nouveau Petit Larousse est paru.
   The new (edition of) Le Petit Larousse is out.

Using Il paraît

Il paraît is an impersonal construction that means "it seems" in the global sense (like, "they say" or "the word is") and can be followed by an adjective or a subordinate clause.

1) Il paraît + adjective is followed by de + infinitive, and may also be modifed by an indirect object pronoun:

    Il paraît important d'essayer
   It seems important to try

    Il ne paraît pas essentiel d'y aller
   It doesn't seem essential to go

    Il me paraît ridicule de courir
   It seems ridiculous to me to run

    Il ne nous paraît pas logique de faire ça
   To us it doesn't seem / We don't think it's logical to do that

2) Il paraît que is followed by a subordinate clause in the indicative:

    Il paraît qu'il va pleuvoir demain
   It seems like / They say it's going to rain tomorrow

    Il paraît que nous devons refaire ce travail
   It seems / The word is that we're going to have to redo this work

3) Il paraît may be modified by an adjective before que, in which case the verb in the subordinate clause may be in the indicative or subjunctive, depending on what the adjective requires:*

    Il paraît important que tu le fasses seul
   It seems / Apparently it's important that you do it alone

    Il paraît clair qu'on ne peut pas gagner
   It seems clear that we can't win

*That is, if the expression would need the subjunctive without paraît then it also needs it with paraît: il est important que + subjunctive, thus il paraît important que + subjunctive

4) When il paraît que is modifed by an indirect object pronoun, it is equivalent to "it seems" (to me, to us, etc):

    Il me paraît important que tu comprennes
   It seems to me that it's important that you understand (I think it's important for you to understand)

    Il nous paraît sûr qu'on va gagner
   It seems certain to us / We think it's certain that we're going to win

    Il nous paraît qu'il peut venir
   It seems to us / We think that it he can come

5) Il ne paraît pas que requires the subjunctive:

    Il ne paraît pas qu'il vienne
   It doesn't seem that he's coming; He doesn't seem to be coming

    Il ne paraît pas qu'on puisse gagner
   It doesn't seem like we can win

Expressions with paraître

  •     à ce qu'il paraît - apparently
  •     paraît-il - apparently
  •     il paraît que oui - so it seems
  •     il paraît que non - apparently not

Conjugations

  •    je parais
  •    tu  parais
  •    il paraît
  •    nous  paraissons
  •    vous  paraissez
  •    ils  paraissent
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Your Citation
Lawless, Laura K. "All About Paraître." ThoughtCo, Sep. 30, 2017, thoughtco.com/french-verb-paraitre-1368887. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, September 30). All About Paraître. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-verb-paraitre-1368887 Lawless, Laura K. "All About Paraître." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-verb-paraitre-1368887 (accessed January 24, 2018).