How to Conjugate the French Verb "Nager" (to Swim)

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Nager is the French verb that means "to swim." When you want to change it to the present, past, or future tense, you will need to know how to conjugate it and a quick lesson will show you how that's done.

The Basic Conjugations of Nager

There are many French verb conjugations, though we'll concentrate on the most basic forms for this lesson. These include the ways that you can say "I am swimming," "we swam," and "they will swim" in French.

Nager is a spelling change verb and it follows the same pattern as all other verbs that end in -ger. The change to the spelling is essential in order to retain the soft g sound in the verb's stem (or radical).

For example, if you didn't include the e in the imperfect past tense je and tu form, then the would sound like it does in the word "gold" because it's followed by an a. To fix that problem and keep the g sounding like it does in "gel," the e is used. It's a minor issue, but a very important one to remember.

As you study the nager conjugations, you'll match the subject pronoun with the tense of your sentence. The chart will guide you as to which endings to add and when that spelling change occurs. When you want to say "I am swimming," it is je nage. Likewise, "we will swim" is nous nagerons.

Present Future Imperfect
je nage nagerai nageais
tu nages nageras nageais
il nage nagera nageait
nous nageons nagerons nagions
vous nagez nagerez nagiez
ils nagent nageront nageaient

The Present Participle of Nager

The spelling change appears again in the present participle of nager. That's because we add -ant to form nageant.

Nager in the Compound Past Tense

Beyond the imperfect, another way to express the past tense "swam" is with the passé composé. This is the most common compound and one you'll use often.

In order to construct this, you will use the present tense conjugation of the auxiliary verb avoir to match your subject, then attach the past participle nagé. For example, "I swam" is j'ai nagé and "we swam" is nous avons nagé.

More Simple Conjugations of Nager

You will use the conjugations of nager above most often, but there may be times when you will also need to know a few more basic forms. For instance, when the action of swimming may or may not happen, you'll turn to the subjunctive. When it's dependent on something else, you'll use the conditional

Though they're used with less frequency, knowing or at least being able to recognize the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive will be handy as well.

Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je nage nagerais nageai nageasse
tu nages nagerais nageas nageasses
il nage nagerait nagea nageât
nous nagions nagerions nageâmes nageassions
vous nagiez nageriez nageâtes nageassiez
ils nagent nageraient nagèrent nageassent

The imperative form of nager is used for very short sentences such as, "Swim!" When using it, you don't have to include the subject pronoun, so you can get away with simplifying it to "Nagez !"

(tu) nage
(vous) nagez
(nous) nageons
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Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the French Verb "Nager" (to Swim)." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Conjugate the French Verb "Nager" (to Swim). Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the French Verb "Nager" (to Swim)." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).