How to Conjugate 'Partir' (to Leave) in French

Woman waving to man leaving in car
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Partir is one of the most common French verbs and it means "to leave," though it can take on other meanings as well. In order to use partir in conversations, you will need to learn how to conjugate it. This is an irregular verb, which makes it a little more challenging than others, but this lesson will help you learn how to use it.

Conjugating the French Verb Partir

Whether you want to say "I am leaving," "you left," or "we will leave," a conjugation is required.

Because partir is an irregular verb it does not follow the common patterns found in French, so you will have to memorize it in all its forms. With time you will learn it and, luckily, partir is so common that you'll find plenty of opportunities to practice it.

Partir is not all alone in its conjugations, however. Most French verbs ending in -mir-tir, or -vir are conjugated the same way. That means that once you learn one, each new verb becomes a little easier. 

The most common forms of partir are the indicative moods. These include the basic present, future, and imperfect past tenses which you will use most often. Using this first chart, pair the subject pronoun with the correct tense for your sentence. For instance, "I am leaving" is je pars while "we will leave" is nous partirons.

 PresentFutureImperfect
jeparspartiraipartais
tuparspartiraspartais
ilpartpartirapartait
nouspartonspartironspartions
vouspartezpartirezpartiez
ilspartentpartirontpartaient

The present participle of partir is partant. This was formed by adding the ending -ant to the verb stem.

Verbs like partir require être when used in compound tenses like the passé composé. To construct this past tense, you will need the auxiliary verb être and the past participle parti. For example, "we left" is nous sommes parti.

Though they may be used less often, the following forms of partir may also be useful. For instance, you can use either the subjunctive or the conditional verb moods to imply uncertainty to the act of leaving. In contrast, the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive are rarely used outside of French literature.

 SubjunctiveConditionalPassé SimpleImperfect Subjunctive
jepartepartiraispartispartisse
tupartespartiraispartispartisses
ilpartepartiraitpartitpartît
nouspartionspartirionspartîmespartissions
vouspartiezpartiriezpartîtespartissiez
ilspartentpartiraientpartirentpartissent

When you want to say something like "Leave!" you can use the imperative verb mood. In this case, there's no need to include the subject pronoun, so simply say, "Pars !"

 Imperative
(tu)pars
(nous) partons
(vous)partez

The Many Meanings of Partir

Partir most commonly means "to leave" in the general sense of leaving a place. It is the opposite of arriver (to arrive):

  • Je vais partir ce soir. - I'm going to leave tonight.
  • Il n'est pas parti hier. - He didn't leave yesterday.

Partir has a few other meanings as well. For example, it can be used to mean "to shoot" or "to fire":

  • Le coup est parti tout seul. - The gun went off (fired) by itself.
  • Le bouchon est parti au plafond. - The cork shot up to the ceiling.

Partir can also mean "to start" or "to get off to":

  • Tout ça est bien/mal parti. - It all started well/badly. It got off to a good/bad start.
  • On est parti sur une mauvaise piste. - We got off on the wrong track, to a bad start.

Partir is a semi-auxiliary, meaning that in some cases it can act in the same way as être or avoir.  In this instance, when  partir is combined with an infinitive verb it means "to leave in order to do something":

  • Peux-tu partir acheter du pain ? - Could you go out and buy some bread?
  • Il est parti étudier en Italie. - He went to study in Italy.

As a euphemism, partir means "to die" or "to pass away":

  • Mon mari est parti. - My husband passed away.

Partir With Prepositions

Partir is intransitive, which means that it cannot be followed by a direct object.

However, it may be followed by a preposition and an indefinite object (e.g., the destination or point/purpose of departure), or by a day, time, or other modifiers.

  • Ils partent de Paris demain. - They're leaving (from) Paris tomorrow.
  • Quand vas-tu partir à la chasse ? - When are you leaving to go hunting?
  • Il est parti pour l'université. - He left for college / went to college.
  • On va partir demain. - We're going to leave tomorrow.

Additionally, partir can have different meanings depending on the preposition that follows it.

  • partir à + infinitive means "to start" (doing something, usually suddenly): As in, "Il est parti à pleurer" (He started crying, burst into tears) or "Je suis parti à rire" (I started laughing, burst into laughter).
  • partir dans + noun means "to start" (doing something which interrupts something else): As in, "Il est parti dans une digression sans fin." (He went off into an endless tangent.) and "Ne pars pas dans une grande colère." (Don't get all mad.).
  • partir de has two meanings:
    • "to begin on" or "to start from": As in, " Le contrat partira du 3 août." (The contract will begin on 3 August.) and "C'est le deuxième en partant de la gauche." (It's the second from the left.).
    • "to come from": As in, "Ça part du cœur." (It comes from the heart.) and "D'où part ce bruit ?" (Where is this noise coming from?).
  • partir pour + infinitive also means "to start" (and give the impression of continuing for a long time): As in, "Il est parti pour parler pendant une heure." (He started talking and looked like he'd keep going for an hour.) and "Elle est partie pour nous raconter sa vie." (She started telling us her life story.).

Expressions With Partir

There are a few common French expressions that rely on partir. For many of these, you will need to conjugate the verb, using what you learn in this lesson. Practicing these in simple sentences will make them easier to remember.

  • à partir de - from (time, date, place)
  • à partir de maintenant - from now on
  • à partir de ce moment-là - from then on
  • à partir du moment où - as soon as
  • À vos marques ! Prêts ? Partez ! - On your marks! Get set! Go!
  • c'est parti - here we go, here goes
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Lawless, Laura K. "How to Conjugate 'Partir' (to Leave) in French." ThoughtCo, Sep. 14, 2017, thoughtco.com/partir-to-leave-1370610. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, September 14). How to Conjugate 'Partir' (to Leave) in French. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/partir-to-leave-1370610 Lawless, Laura K. "How to Conjugate 'Partir' (to Leave) in French." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/partir-to-leave-1370610 (accessed October 22, 2017).