French Verb Mettre Conjugation

Mettre Conjugation, Usage, and Examples

Little girl getting ready for school
Elle met son manteau. (She puts on her coat.).  Marilyn Nieves/Getty Images

Mettre is one of the most frequently used French verbs. Mettre means to put or to place, but it has many different uses. It is a highly irregular -re verb that is used in many idiomatic expressions. Here you will find the conjugations of mettre in the present, present progressive, compound past, imperfect, simple future, near future indicative, the conditional, the present subjunctive, as well as the imperative and the gerund.

Conjugating Mettre

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. Thereforeall French verbs that end in -mettre are conjugated the same way. 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 that use 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!

Present Indicative

Je mets Je mets les documents sur le bureau. I put the documents on the desk.
Tu mets Tu mets du beurre sur le pain. You put butter on the bread.
Ils/Elles/On met Elle met un manteau en hiver. She puts on a coat in winter.
Nous mettons Nous mettons la radio pour danser. We turn on the radio to dance.
Vous mettez Vous mettez la table avant manger. You set the table before eating.
Ils/Elles mettent Elles mettent les fruits dans le frigo. They put the fruit in the fridge.

Present Progressive Indicative

To talk about ongoing actions, the present progressive in the French language can be expressed with the simple present tense, or with a verb structure formed with the present tense conjugation of the verb être (to be) + en train de + the infinitive verb (mettre).

Je suis en train de mettre Je suis en train de mettre les documents sur le bureau. I am putting the documents on the desk.
Tu es en train de mettre Tu es en train de mettre du beurre sur le pain. You are putting butter on the bread.
Ils/Elles/On est en train de mettre Elle est en train de mettre un manteau en hiver. She is putting on a coat in winter.
Nous sommes en train de mettre Nous sommes en train de mettre la radio pour danser. We are turning on the radio to dance.
Vous êtes en train de mettre Vous êtes en train de mettre la table avant manger. You are setting the table before eating.
Ils/Elles sont en train de mettre Elles sont en train de mettre les fruits dans le frigo. They are putting the fruit in the fridge.

Compound Past Indicative

The simple past or present perfect are expressed in French with the passé composé, which is formed with the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle mis​. 

Je ai mis J'ai mis les documents sur le bureau. I put the documents on the desk.
Tu as mis Tu as mis du beurre sur le pain. You put butter on the bread.
Ils/Elles/On a mis Elle a mis un manteau en hiver. She put on a coat in winter.
Nous avons mis Nous avons mis la radio pour danser. We turned on the radio to dance.
Vous avez mis Vous avez mis la table avant manger. You set the table before eating.
Ils/Elles ont mis Elles ont mis les fruits dans le frigo. They put the fruit in the fridge.

Imperfect Indicative

To talk about ongoing or repeated actions in the past, in French you use the imperfect. The imperfect tense is usually translated to English as "was putting" or "used to put".

Je mettais Je mettais les documents sur le bureau. I used to put the documents on the desk.
Tu mettais Tu mettais du beurre sur le pain. You used to put butter on the bread.
Ils/Elles/On mettait Elle mettait un manteau en hiver. She used to put on a coat in winter.
Nous mettions Nous mettions la radio pour danser. We used to turn on the radio to dance.
Vous mettiez Vous mettiez la table avant manger. You used to set the table before eating.
Ils/Elles mettaient Elles mettaient les fruits dans le frigo. They used to put the fruit in the fridge.

Simple Future Indicative

These are the conjugations for the simple future:

Je mettrai Je mettrai les documents sur le bureau. I will put the documents on the desk.
Tu mettras Tu mettras du beurre sur le pain. You will put butter on the bread.
Ils/Elles/On mettra Elle mettra un manteau en hiver. She will put on a coat in winter.
Nous mettrons Nous mettrons la radio pour danser. We will turn on the radio to dance.
Vous mettrez Vous mettrez la table avant manger. You will set the table before eating.
Ils/Elles mettront Elles mettront les fruits dans le frigo. They will put the fruit in the fridge.

Near Future Indicative

The French equivalent to the English "going to + verb" is the near future, which in French is formed with the present tense conjugation of the verb aller (to go) + the infinitive (mettre).

Je vais mettre Je vas mettre les documents sur le bureau. I am going to put the documents on the desk.
Tu vas mettre Tu vas mettre du beurre sur le pain. You are going to put butter on the bread.
Ils/Elles/On va mettre Elle va mettre un manteau en hiver. She is going to put on a coat in winter.
Nous allons mettre Nous allons mettre la radio pour danser. We are going to turn on the radio to dance.
Vous allez mettre Vous allez mettre la table avant manger. You are going to set the table before eating.
Ils/Elles vont mettre Elles vont mettre les fruits dans le frigo. They are going to put the fruit in the fridge.

Conditional

To talk about hypothetical or possible actions in French, you can use the conditional. The conditional is usually translated to English as "would + verb."

Je mettrais Je mettrais les documents sur le bureau si tu le demandais. I would put the documents on the desk if you asked for it.
Tu mettrais Tu mettrais du beurre sur le pain, mais tu ne l'aimes pas. You would put butter on the bread, but you don't like it.
Ils/Elles/On mettrait Elle mettrait un manteau en hiver s'il faisait froid.. She would put on a coat in winter if it were cold.
Nous mettrions Nous mettrions la radio pour danser, mais c'est interdit. We would turn on the radio to dance, but it's not allowed.
Vous mettriez Vous mettriez la table avant manger, mais vous l'avez oublié.. You would set the table before eating, but you forgot.
Ils/Elles mettraient Elles mettraient les fruits dans le frigo si elles pouvaient. They would put the fruit in the fridge if they could.

Present Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood is a verb mood used to talk about uncertain events. Here are the conjugations for the present subjunctive:

Que je mette Le patron exige que je mette les documents sur le bureau. The boss demands that I put the documents on the desk.
Que tu mettes Perrine demande que tu mettes du beurre sur le pain. Perrine asks that you put butter on the bread.
Qu'ils/Elles/On mette Sa mère suggère qu'elle mette un manteau en hiver. Her mother suggests that she put on a coat in winter.
Que nous mettions Patrick souhaite que nous mettions la radio pour danser. Patrick hopes that we turn on the radio to dance.
Que vous mettiez Papa conseille que vous mettiez la table avant manger. Dad advises that you set the table before eating.
Qu'ils/Elles mettent Carla préfère qu'elles mettent les fruits dans le frigo. Carla prefers that they put the fruit in the fridge.

Imperative

To give an order or command you need to use the imperative mood. The imperative includes both positive and negative commands. The negative commands are simply formed by placing ne...pas around the positive command.

Positive commands

Tu mets ! Mets du beurre sur le pain ! Put butter on the bread!
Nous mettons ! Mettons la radio pour danser ! Let's turn on the radio to dance!
Vous mettez ! Mettez la table avant manger ! Set the table before eating!

Negative commands

Tu ne mets pas ! Ne mets pas de beurre sur le pain ! Don't put butter on the bread!
Nous ne mettons pas ! Ne mettons pas la radio pour danser ! Let's not turn on the radio to dance!
Vous ne mettez pas ! Ne mettez pas la table avant manger ! Don't set the table before eating!

Present Participle/Gerund

The present participle in French can be used to form the gerund (usually preceded by the preposition en), which is often used to talk about simultaneous actions.

Present Participle/Gerund of Mettre: mettant

Je parlais au téléphone en mettant la table. -> I talked on the phone while setting the table.