Learn the Simple Conjugates of "Paraître" (to Seem)

A Introductory French Verb Conjugation Lesson

In French, the verb paraître means "to seem." It's a good word to use when you're talking about how something appears, but you'll also need to know how to conjugate it into the present, past, and future tenses. This lesson will introduce you to this verb as well as similar words that follow the same conjugation pattern.

The Basic Conjugations of Paraître

Paraîtreis an irregular verb, and these are some of the most challenging to conjugate in French.

However, nearly all French verbs ending in -aître are conjugated in the same ways. In that sense, this lesson can be a little easier because you can apply what you learn here to the other verbs.

It is important that you learn how to conjugate the verb because paraître is used in a number of common expressions. We'll begin with the easiest and most useful forms in the indicative mood.

Since this is an irregular verb, you need to commit each of the following conjugations to memory. Simply pair the subject pronoun with each tense and practice that in short sentences. For example, je parais means "I seem" and nous paraîtrons means "we will seem." 


The Present Participle of Paraître

The present participle of paraître is paraissant.

Not only is this a verb, in some circumstances you may also be able to use it as a noun or adjective as well.

Paraître in the Compound Past Tense

For the past tense, you can use either the imperfect or the passé composé. The latter is a compound that requires the auxiliary verb avoir to be conjugated into the present tense.

You'll then add the past participle paru. As an example, j'ai paru means "I seemed" and nous avons paru means "we seemed."

More Simple Conjugations of Paraître

With a verb like paraître, there may be times when you'll question the action. In these instances, you can use the subjunctive. If, however, the action is based on certain conditions, you'll find the conditional helpful. The literary tenses of the passé simple and the imperfect subjunctive will likely only be found in written French.

 SubjunctiveConditionalPassé SimpleImperfect Subjunctive

For the French imperative, you can skip the subject pronoun completely. This allows you to shorten nous paraissons to paraissons.

(nous) paraissons

Similar Verbs to Study

With the exception of naître (to be born), all French verbs that end in -aître are conjugated the same way as paraître. You will also notice that these are verbs deal with perception or recognizing something. That may help you associate them to one another.

Since these are irregular verbs, you may find it easier to learn them as a group. Even those that do not have separate conjugation lessons here will use the same endings and rules as those that do have lessons. Consider taking a week or two to learn this entire list and practice them in your French conversations.

  • apparaître - to appear
  • comparaître - to appear in court
  • disparaître - to disappear
  • reparaître - to reappear
  • transparaître - to show through
  • connaître - to know, be familiar with
  • méconnaître -to be unaware of
  • reconnaître - to recognize