How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Mettre' ('to Put')

'Mettre' is so irregular that you simply have to memorize it

French conjugation mettre

Mettre is one of the most frequently used French verbs. It is a highly irregular French -re verb that's used in many idiomatic expressions. Below are the simple conjugations of the verb; they do not include the compound tenses, which consist of a form of the auxiliary verb with the past participle.

The verb mettre falls into one of five patterns in conjugating irregular -re verbs. These center around prendrebattremettrerompre and all verbs that end in -aindre (as in craindre), -eindre (as in peindre) and -oindre (as in joindre).

The group around mettre also includes all of its derivations, such as promettre. These verbs are conjugated like battre, except in the passé simple, the imperfect subjunctive and the past participle. Note in the table below that the first three groups take the same present tense verb endings.

Verbs Ending in -Mettre 

Since this group includes mettre plus all of its derivations, all French verbs that end in -mettre are conjugated the same way as mettre. The following are common mettre derivations:

  • Admettre > to admit
  • Commettre > to commit
  • Compromettre > to compromise
  • Permettre > to permit
  • Promettre > to promise
  • Soumettre > to submit
  • Transmettre > to transmit

Uses and Meanings of "Mettre"

Mettre is an extremely flexible verb. Generally, it means "to put," but, depending on the context, it can also mean "put on," "spend time on," "turn on, activate" and "suppose." The pronominal se mettre can mean "put oneself" or "become (weather)," and se mettre à means "start, set to, take up."

One common use of mettre in French is the expression:

The literal translation is "to put one's feet in the dish." You might notice the similarity between the French expression mettre les pieds dans le plat and the English "to put one's foot in one's mouth," but they don't mean quite the same thing.

The French expression means to bring up a delicate subject without any delicacy at all or to discuss a topic that everyone else is avoiding. This is probably not embarrassing to the speaker, who just wants to talk about that subject (even if that means unintentionally embarrassing everyone else in the room).

Other Idiomatic Expressions With 'Mettre'

Here are a few of the daily expressions inspired by mettre.

  • Mettre beaucoup de soin à faire > to take great care in doing something
  • Mettre de l'ardeur à faire quelque chose > to do something eagerly
  • mettre de l'argent pour > to pay for
  • Mettre de l'eau dans son vin > to tone it down
  • Mettre en colère > to make angry
  • Mettre en relief > to bring out, enhance, accentuate
  • Mettre la radio > to turn on the radio
  • Mettre la table> to set the table
  • Mettre le réveil> to set the alarm
  • Mettre le verrou > to bolt the door
  • Mettre les bouts (familiar) > Get lost!

Simple Conjugations of the Irregular French Verb 'Mettre'

 PresentFutureImperfectPresent participle
jemetsmettraimettaismettant
tumetsmettrasmettais 
ilmetmettramettait 
nousmettonsmettronsmettions 
vousmettezmettrezmettiez 
ilsmettentmettrontmettaient 

 

Passé composé 
Auxiliary verbavoir
Past participlemis

 

 SubjunctiveConditionalPassé simpleImperfect subjunctive
jemettemettraismis
misse
tumettesmettraismismisses
ilmettemettraitmitmît
nousmettionsmettrionsmîmesmissions
vousmettiezmettriezmîtesmissiez
ilsmettentmettraientmirentmissent

 

 Imperative
tumets
nousmettons
vousmettez