How to Conjugate the French Verb "Naître" (to be Born)

A Simple French Lesson for an Irregular Verb

Meaning "to be born," the French verb naître is easier to remember if you associate it with a nativity scene for Christmas. When you want to use it in complete sentences, it will need to be conjugated

Naître is an irregular verb, so that does make it a bit of a challenge. However, this lesson will guide you through the most important conjugations you need to know.

The Basic Conjugations of Naître

Verb conjugations are necessary because they allow us to indicate when the action of being born happened in the past, is occurring in the present, or will take place in the future.

In English, we use -ing and -ed for this, but in French we also have to change the verb according to the subject pronoun.

Naître is a little tricky because it is an irregular verb, meaning it doesn't follow a common pattern. You cannot rely on your studies of other verbs when learning this one. Instead, you'll need to commit all of these to memory.

Use the chart to study the present, future, and imperfect past tenses of naître. Match the subject pronoun with the appropriate tense for your sentence and practice these in simple sentences. For example, "I am being born" is je nais and "he will be born" is il naîtra.

As you might imagine, not every one of these will make perfect sense. After all, you can only be physically born once in your lifetime. However, there are some other subjective uses for these phrases, so they're all good to study.


The Present Participle of Naître

The present participle of naître is naissant. Notice how this one also changes the accented î to a regular i as if found in the present tenses of the verb. It's one of those quirks that makes naître irregular.

Naître in the Compound Past Tense

The passé composé is the most common compound conjugation of naître and it indicates the past tense.

To form it, you will use the auxiliary verb être and the very short past participle .

The key here is to conjugate être to the present tense for the subject and to leave the past participle unchanged. For example, "I was born" is je suis né and "we were born" is nous sommes né.

More Simple Conjugations of Naître

There are a few other conjugations you may need, though those above should be your top priority. You will use the subjunctive and the conditional when the action has some degree of uncertainty. On rare occasions, you may also encounter the passé simple or imperfect subjunctive.

 SubjunctiveConditionalPassé SimpleImperfect Subjunctive

You may not have many occasions to use the imperative form for naître, though if you do remember that it's okay to omit the subject pronoun. Rather than tu nais, simplify it to nais.

(nous) naissons
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Lawless, Laura K. "How to Conjugate the French Verb "Naître" (to be Born)." ThoughtCo, Oct. 26, 2017, Lawless, Laura K. (2017, October 26). How to Conjugate the French Verb "Naître" (to be Born). Retrieved from Lawless, Laura K. "How to Conjugate the French Verb "Naître" (to be Born)." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 18, 2017).