Learn How to Conjugate "Neiger" (to Snow)

Tell Someone "It's Snowing" or "It Snowed" in French

When you want to tell someone that it's snowing in French, you'll use the verb neiger (to snow). While this is a spelling change verb, which typically makes learning the conjugations a challenge, it's also an impersonal one. That means you have far fewer words to memorize, which makes this lesson far easier than most.

Neiger Is an Impersonal Verb

Neiger is an impersonal verb. This means that a person cannot do the act.

It makes sense if you think about it: I cannot personally make it snow, you cannot make it snow, and neither can we, she, he, or any other subject pronoun except "it." This happens to verbs that we cannot control and you'll find that pleuvoir (to rain) follows the same logic.

What this means for French students is that you don't need to memorize the verb's conjugates for all of the pronouns other than il, which means "it" in this circumstance. Also, there is no imperative form.

The Essential Conjugations of Neiger

While you do have fewer forms of neiger to memorize than with personal verbs, you do need to look out for a few changes in its conjugations.

This is a spelling change verb. You will notice that when the verb stem (neig-) requires an ending that begins with a, an e is placed between the stem and the ending. This is done to retain the soft g so it sounds like "gel" rather than "gold."

The first chart gives you the proper forms for neiger in the indicative mood. While the present and future tenses use regular -er endings, the spelling change is required in the imperfect past tense. The chart will help you learn that il neige means "it is snowing," il neigera means "it will snow," and il neigeait means "it snowed."

 PresentFutureImperfect
il   neigeneigeraneigeait

You may also need to question whether it really is snowing, which is when the subjunctive is useful. If, however, it will only snow if something else happens (the temperature drops, perhaps), then you'll use the conditional. In most cases, you will only find the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive in written French.

 SubjunctiveConditionalPassé SimpleImperfect Subjunctive
ilneigeneigeraitneigeaneigeât

The Present Participle of Neiger

The present participle of neiger does require the spelling change. That's because it uses an -ant ending and this produces the word neigeant.

Neiger in the Compound Past Tense

Beyond the imperfect, you may also use the passé composé to say that it has already snowed. This compound past tense requires neiger's past participle neigé as well as a helping (or auxiliary) verb.

To form this, begin by conjugating avoir to the il present tense, then add neigéil a neigé.