How to Conjugate "Posséder" (to Possess) in French

A Verb Conjugation Lesson in Forming "Possessed" and "Possessing"

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When you first see the French verb posséder, you might think that it means "to possess" and you would be correct. While that is pretty easy to remember, you'll still need to know its conjugations. This lesson will introduce you to the most essential of those so you can say "possessed" and "possessing" in French.

The Basic Conjugations of Posséder

Posséder is a stem-changing verb and that may seem like it complicates things, but it's actually not too bad. The stem change occurs in the accented é of the verb's stem (or radical). As you'll notice in the indicative mood, there are some conjugations that change the accent to è. Also in the future tense, you have the option of which to use.

Beyond that minor issue—which you do need to pay close attention to—posséder is conjugated like a regular -er verb. In that sense, this lesson is a little easier, especially if you've studied similar verbs.

To study the endings you'll need, simply pair the subject pronoun with the present, future, or imperfect past tense. This results in things such as je possède for "I am possessing" and nous possédions for "we possessed." Practicing these in short sentences will help you memorize them faster.

Present Future Imperfect
je possède posséderai
possèderai
possédais
tu possèdes posséderas
possèderas
possédais
il possède possédera
possèdera
possédait
nous possédons posséderons
possèderons
possédions
vous possédez posséderez
possèderez
possédiez
ils possèdent posséderont
possèderont
possédaient

The Present Participle of Posséder

The present participle of posséder is easy to form. Like regular -er verbs, you'll simply add -ant to the radical to produce possédant.

Posséder in the Compound Past Tense

For the past tense, the passé composé is a popular alternative to the imperfect. It's a compound, so you will need an auxiliary verb as well as the past participle possédé.

The only conjugation you need to worry about is avoir in the present tense. You'll then attach the past participle, which indicates that something is already in someone's possession. It comes together quickly: j'ai possédé means "I possessed" and nous avons possédé means "we possessed."

More Simple Conjugations of Posséder

Studying a few more basic conjugations of posséder is a good idea, though the forms above should be your priority. Keep in mind that you'll need to watch for that stem change and that the conditional—used for "if...then" situations—gives you an option.

When you don't know if something will be possessed, you can use the subjunctiveThe passé simple and the imperfect subjunctive are found primarily in written French, though they're still good to know.

Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je possède posséderais
possèderais
possédai possédasse
tu possèdes posséderais
possèderais
possédas possédasses
il possède posséderait
possèderait
posséda possédât
nous possédions posséderions
possèderions
possédâmes possédassions
vous possédiez posséderiez
possèderiez
possédâtes possédassiez
ils possèdent posséderaient
possèderaient
possédèrent possédassent

You may not have many uses for posséder in the imperative. When you do use it, it's good to know that you can drop the subject pronoun, simplifying it from tu possède to possède.

Imperative
(tu) possède
(nous) possédons
(vous) possédez