Conjugating the French Spelling-Change Verb 'Manger' ('to Eat')

'Manger' is a regular verb that also changes spelling slightly

Friends eating at cafe
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Manger is a regular French -er verb, but it is also a spelling-change verb. This means that it takes all the regular -er endings, but a small spelling change is made to the stem for consistency of pronunciation. (The stem: the infinitive manger minus the -er ending, which leaves the stem mang-. All endings are added to this stem.)

What Is a Spelling-Change Verb?

Here's how the spelling change works.

Verbs like manger that end in -ger change spelling slightly before endings that begin with the hard vowels a or o. Because g followed by a or o makes a hard g sound (as in gold), an e has to be added after g to keep a soft g (like the j in je). In short, wherever the g is not followed by an e, an e must be inserted so that the g remains soft throughout the conjugations.

For example, in the present tense and the imperative, this g-to-ge spelling change is found only in the nous conjugation: mangeons. It is needed for the present participlemangeant, but not for the past participlemangé.

And it occurs in the following tenses/moods:

There is no spelling change in the conditionalfuture or subjunctive.

The table below summarizes the spelling change conjugations.

 You might want to take a look at manger conjugated in all tenses to get the full picture of how often an e is needed after each g.

All '-ger' Verbs Are Spelling-Change Verbs

All verbs that end in -ger undergo this spelling change, including:

  •    arranger > to arrange
  •    bouger > to move
  •    changer > to change
  •    corriger > to correct
  •    décourager > to discourage
  •    déménager > to move
  •    déranger > to disturb
  •    diriger > to direct
  •    encourager > to encourage
  •    engager > to bind
  •    exiger > to demand
  •    juger > to judge
  •    loger > to lodge
  •    manger > to eat
  •    mélanger > to mix
  •    nager > to swim
  •    obliger > to oblige
  •    partager > to share
  •    rédiger > to write
  •    voyager > to travel

'Manger': Use and Expressions 

The food-conscious French have plenty of expressions using manger. Note that in familiar, everyday language, people frequently use the synonym bouffer, another regular -er verb that means "to eat," as in On a bien bouffé. ("The food was great." / "We ate well.") Here are a few expressions with manger:

  • Elle mange de tout. > She eats everything.
  • On en mangerait. > It looks good enough to eat. (Notice how much meaning was conveyed here by the simple use of the conditional.)
  • manger de la vache enragée > to have a hard time of it
  • Il a mangé du lion aujourd'hui. > He's full of beans today.
  • Il ne mange pas de ce pain-là. > That's not his cup of tea.
  • Elle est mignonne. On le mangerait ! > She's so cut; I could eat her up.
  • On peut toujours essayer. Ça ne mange pas de pain. > We can always try. It won't cost us anything.
  • manger à sa faim > to eat one's fill
  • Je veux à manger. > I want something to eat.
  • As-tu eu assez à manger ? > Did you get enough to eat?
  • Que veux-tu que je fasse à manger ce soir ? > What would you like me to cook / make for dinner tonight?

Spelling-Change Conjugations of the Regular 'er' Verb 'Manger'

 Present  Future  Imperfect Present participle
jemangemangeraimangeaismangeant 
tumangesmangerasmangeais 
ilmangemangeramangeaitPassé composé
nousmangeonsmangeronsmangions   Auxiliary verb avoir
vousmangezmangerezmangiez   Past participle mangé
ilsmangentmangerontmangeaient 
 
 Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive
jemangemangeraismangeaimangeasse
tumangesmangeraismangeasmangeasses
ilmangemangeraitmangeamangeât
nousmangionsmangerionsmangeâmesmangeassions
vousmangiezmangeriezmangeâtesmangeassiez
ilsmangentmangeraientmangèrentmangeassent
 
 Imperative 
(tu)mange 
 
(nous) mangeons 
(vous)mangez