Conjugating the Simple French Tenses of "Obtenir" (Obtain, Get)

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Obtenir is a common French irregular verb that is conjugated the same as other verbs ending in -tenir and -venir. Note that the conjugations in the table below are only those for simple tenses; compound conjugations, which include a form of the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle obtenu, are not included.

Meanings and Use

Obtenir is an exceedingly useful transitive verb meaning "to obtain, get, secure, win, reach." Here are some examples of how it can be used:

  • Obtenir un prix > to win a prize
  • Obtenir, acquérir un baccalauréat / une licence d'économie > To get, earn a BA / a degree in economics
  • Obtenir an accord > to reach an accord
  • Obtenir la garde d'un enfant > to get / win custody of a child
  • Obtenir le droit de vote > to win the right to vote / to get the vote
  • Elle lui a obtenu une augmentation. > She got him a raise.
  • Obtenir quelque chose à quelqu'un > to get something for someone
  • En divisant par deux on obtient 24. > If you divide by two, you get 24.
  • Obtenir de: Il a obtenu de repousser le rendez-vous. > He managed to get the meeting postponed.
  • S'obtenir (pronominal): Le résultat demandé s'obtient en multipliant 3 par 5. > To arrive at / to get the required result, multiply 3 by 5.


Verbs that end in -tenir follow the same conjugation pattern as other verbs ending in -tenir. They all take avoir as their auxiliary verb.

  • s'abstenir > to refrain, abstain from
  • appartenir > to belong to
  • contenir > to contain
  • détenir > to detain
  • entretenir > to look after, support, foster, keep alive
  • maintenir  > to maintain
  • retenir > to retain
  • soutenir > to support
  • tenir > to hold, keep


Most verbs that end in -venir use être as their auxiliary verb. A few, such as circonvenir, prévenir and se souvenir (see below) use avoir.

  • advenir > to happen
  • circonvenir > to circumvent, get around
  • contrevenir > to contravene
  • convenir > to suit, be suitable
  • devenir > to become
  • intervenir > to intervene
  • parvenir > to reach, achieve
  • prévenir > to warn
  • provenir > to come from, be due to
  • revenir > to come back
  • se souvenir de > to remember
  • subvenir > to provide for
  • survenir > to occur, take place


Tip: Concentrate on the most useful tenses (présent, imparfait, passé composé) and get used to using them in context. Once you've mastered them, move on to the rest.

Training with an audio source such as the French Verb Drills Audiobook Series may also be helpful. There are many liaisons, elisions and modern glidings used with French verbs, and the written form may mislead you such that you end up using the wrong pronunciation.

Simple Conjugations of the Irregular French Verb 'Obtenir"

Present Future Imperfect Present participle
j' obtiens obtiendrai obtenais obtenant
tu obtiens obtiendras obtenais
il obtient obtiendra obtenait Passé composé
nous obtenons obtiendrons obtenions Auxiliary verb avoir
vous obtenez obtiendrez obteniez Past participle obtenu
ils obtiennent obtiendront obtenaient
Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive
j' obtienne obtiendrais obtins obtinsse
tu obtiennes obtiendrais obtins obtinsses
il obtienne obtiendrait obtint obtînt
nous obtenions obtiendrions obtînmes obtinssions
vous obteniez obtiendriez obtîntes obtinssiez
ils obtiennent obtiendraient obtinrent obtinssent
(tu) obtiens
(nous) obtenons
(vous) obtenez
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Team, ThoughtCo. "Conjugating the Simple French Tenses of "Obtenir" (Obtain, Get)." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Conjugating the Simple French Tenses of "Obtenir" (Obtain, Get). Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Conjugating the Simple French Tenses of "Obtenir" (Obtain, Get)." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).