How to Conjugate "Mener" (to Lead)

Simple Conjugations for a Simple French Verb

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The French verb mener means "to lead." It's a simple word, but there is one little trick to learning its conjugations. A quick lesson will show you what that is so you can properly say "I led" or "we will lead."

Conjugations of the French Verb Mener 

Mener is a stem-changing verb. It follows some rules that apply to most verbs that end in -e_er, such as lever (to lift). Essentially, the "stem change" appears in certain verb forms where the first e is changed to è. While it doesn't affect the pronunciation, the spelling does change, so pay attention to this.

Other than that one simple change, mener is conjugated in a similar manner to regular -er verbs, which is the most common pattern found in French. This is great news because, with each new one you learn, they become easier.

To study these conjugations, begin by identifying the verb stem: men-. Then, you will match the subject pronoun with the appropriate tense for your subject. For example, "I am leading" is "je mène" and "we will lead" is "nous ménerons."

Subject Present Future Imperfect
je mène mènerai menais
tu mènes mèneras menais
il mène mènera menait
nous menons mènerons menions
vous menez mènerez meniez
ils mènent mèneront menaient

The Present Participle of Mener 

The present participle of mener is menant. To form this, we simply added -ant to the stem. This is a verb, of course, but in some contexts, it can become an adjective, gerund, or noun as well.

The Past Participle and Passé Composé

Another way to express the past tense "led" is to use the passé composé. It's a simple construction that uses the past participle mené. You will also need to conjugate avoir (an auxiliary verb) to fit the subject pronoun.

For example, "I led" is "j'ai mené" while "we led" is "nous avons mené."

More Simple Mener Conjugations to Learn

After you memorize all of those forms of mener, think about adding a few more simple conjugations to your vocabulary. They can be quite useful at times. For instance, if you need to imply uncertainty to the action, use the subjunctive. When the action is dependent on something else, turn to the conditional.

When reading French, it will improve your comprehension to be able to recognize the passé simple and the imperfect subjunctive as forms of mener.

Subject Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je mène mènerais menai menasse
tu mènes mènerais menas menasses
il mène mènerait mena menât
nous menions mènerions menâmes menassions
vous meniez mèneriez menâtes menassiez
ils mènent mèneraient menèrent menassent

For short sentences such as exclamations and demands, you can use the imperative verb form and bypass the subject pronoun. Instead of "tu mène," use "mène" alone.

Imperative
(tu) mène
(nous) menons
(vous) menez