How to Conjugate "Laver" (to Wash) in French

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When you want to say "to wash" in French, use the verb laver. Alternatively, if you're going to wash someone or something else, baigner is usedLaver is relatively easy to remember because it sounds like "lather," which is what soap does. 

Conjugating the French Verb Laver

In order to change laver to mean "washed," "washing," or "will wash," a conjugation is required. While there are more forms to learn in French than in English, laver is a regular -ER verb and it follows a standard pattern.

Before you can conjugate laver, identify the verb stem, which is simply lav- This is what we will attach the infinitive endings too.

In French, we have multiple endings to remember for each tense. That's because each subject pronoun requires a new ending. For instance, "I am washing" is " je lave" and "you are washing" is "tu laves." Likewise, "nous laverons" means "we will wash" while "I will wash" is "je laverai.

SubjectPresentFutureImperfect
jelavelaverailavais
tulaveslaveraslavais
illavelaveralavait
nouslavonslaveronslavions
vouslavezlaverezlaviez
ilslaventlaverontlavaient

The Present Participle of Laver

Adding -ant to the verb stem of laver results in the present participle lavant. Not only is this a verb, it can also become a noun, adjective, or gerund in certain contexts.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

Beyond the imperfect, you can use the passé composé to express the past tense "washed" in French.

To construct this, begin with the subject pronoun and a conjugate of the auxiliary verb avoir. Then, attach the past participle lavé. For example, "I washed" is "j'ai lavé" and "we washed" is "nous avons lavé."

More Simple Laver Conjugations to Learn

It's best to concentrate on the above forms of laver and commit them to memory first.

When you're comfortable with those, add the following forms to your vocabulary. You may not use them often, but they are useful.

The subjunctive verb mood implies uncertainty while the conditional form says the action is dependent on something else. In literature, you will find the passé simple or the imperfect subjunctive in use.

SubjectSubjunctiveConditionalPassé SimpleImperfect Subjunctive
jelavelaveraislavai         lavasse
tulaveslaveraislavas         lavasses
illavelaveraitlava         lavât
nouslavionslaverionslavâmes         lavassions
vouslaviezlaveriezlavâtes         lavassiez
ilslaventlaveraientlavèrent         lavassent

The imperative verb form is useful for short demands and requests. This is the one time when it's acceptable to skip the subject pronoun: use "lave" rather than "tu lave."

 Imperative
(tu)lave   
(nous)lavons
(vous)lavez