How to Conjugate the French Irregular Verb 'Lire' ('to Read')

The conjugation of 'lire' is very irregular and needs to be memorized

French LIRE conjugation

Lire, "to read," is an irregular French -re verb. Below are the simple conjugations of the verb lire; they do not include the compound tenses, which consist of a form of the auxiliary verb and the past participle.

There are irregular French -er verbs that fall into patterns around the verbs prendre, battre, mettre and rompre, and verbs that end in -aindre, -eindre and -oindre. Thanks to identifiable patterns, these verbs are a little easier to conjugate.

Unfortunately, lire is not in one of those groups. It's one of the very irregular -re verbs with such unusual or unwieldy conjugations that you just have to memorize each verb separately. Try working on one verb a day until you've mastered them all. They include: absoudre, boire, clore, conclure, conduire, confire, connaître, coudre, croire, dire, écrire, faire, inscrire, lire, moudre, naître, plaire, rire, suivre and vivre.

Similar Verbs

There are verbs similar to lire that have their own conjugations, such as élire, réélire and relire. They are similar, but they may not be identical in every case. Check out the conjugation of each before you use them.

'Lire': Uses

While the conjugations of lire are irregular, the meaning is generally the straightforward "to read."

It can be used intransitively (without a direct object):

  • Aimer lire > to like to read
  • Elle apprend à lire toute seule. > She's learning to read all by herself.

    Or transitively (with a direct object):

    'Lire': Expressions

    There are a few idiomatic expressions using lire. Here are some:

    • Lire en diagonale > to skim through something
    • Lire dans les pensées > to read someone's thoughts
    • Lire la suite > Read more (computer prompt)
    • ​Lire la presse > to read the (printed) press

    Simple Conjugations of the French Irregular Verb 'Lire'

     Present Future Imperfect Present participle
    jelislirailisaislisant
    tulisliraslisais 
    illitliralisaitPassé composé
    nouslisonslironslisions   Auxiliary verb avoir
    vouslisezlirezlisiez   Past participlelu
    ilslisentlirontlisaient 
     
     Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive
    jeliseliraisluslusse
    tulisesliraisluslusses
    illiseliraitlutlût
    nouslisionslirionslûmeslussions
    vouslisiezliriezlûteslussiez
    ilslisentliraientlurentlussent
     
     Imperative
    (tu)lis 

     
    (nous) lisons 
    (vous)lisez