French Verb Prendre Conjugation

Prendre Conjugation, Usage, and Examples

Couple looking at French pastries through window
Ils veulent prendre le petit déjeuner a la boulangerie. (The want to eat breakfast at the bakery). Dave and Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Getty Images

The French verb prendre, which commonly means "to take," is a frequently used and very flexible irregular French -re verb. The good news is that prendre can help you learn similar verbs.

In this article you can find the different meanings and the most frequently used prendre conjugations: the present, present progressive, compound past, imperfect, simple future, near future indicative, the conditional, the present subjunctive, as well as the imperative and the gerund of prendre. There are other verb tenses for prendre, but they are not used as frequently. For example, the passé simple and imperfect subjunctive are formal and most often found in writing.

Prendre Is the Model for an Irregular -re Verb Subgroup

There are patterns for irregular French -re verbs, and prendre is in one of those groups. In fact, all verbs ending in the root word -prendre are conjugated the same way. These verbs drop the "d" in all three plural forms and take a double "n" in the third person plural. 

This means that after you learn the conjugations for prendre, you can apply what you learned to conjugate these other verbs:

  • Apprendre > to learn
  • Comprendre > to understand
  • Entreprendre > to undertake
  • Méprendre > to mistake
  • Reprendre > to retake, take again
  • Surprendre > to surprise

The Many Meanings of Prendre

The verb prendre usually means "to take," both literally and figuratively.

  • Il m'a pris par le bras. > He took me by the arm.
  • Tu peux prendre le livre. > You can take the book.
  • Je vais prendre une photo. > I'm going to take a picture.
  • Prenez votre temps. > Take your time.

Prendre is such a flexible verb that it can change meanings based on the context. The following is a list of some of the uses of prendre, although there are many more.

Prendre can mean "to come over" or "to strike":

  • La colère m'a pris. > I was overcome with anger.
  • Qu'est-ce qui te prend ? (informal) > What's come over you? What's the matter with you?

Prendre may also mean "to catch" in instances such as:

  • Je l'ai pris à tricher. > I caught him cheating.

There are times when prendre will take on the meaning of "to take in," "to dupe," or "to fool":

  • On ne m'y prendra plus ! > They won't fool me again!

You may also use prendre when you want to say "to handle" or "to deal with":

  • Il y a plusieurs moyens de prendre le problème. > There are several ways to deal with the problem.

One of your options for saying "to set" is a form of prendre:

  • Le ciment n'a pas encore pris. > The cement hasn't set yet. 

When you want to say "to do well," "to catch on," or "to be successful" you can also turn to prendre:

  • Ce livre va prendre. > This book is going to be a great success.

Sometimes, prendre can even mean "to catch" or "to start":

  • J'espère que le bois va prendre. >  I hope the wood catches on fire.

Finally, prendre can also mean "to pick up" or "to fetch," especially when used with another verb:

  • Passe me prendre à midi. > Come pick me up at noon.
  • Peux-tu me prendre demain ? > Can you pick me up tomorrow?

Using Se Prendre

The pronominal se prendre has several meanings as well.

  • To consider oneself: Il se prend pour un expert. > He thinks he's an expert.
  • To get caught, trapped: Ma manche s'est prise dans la porte. > My sleeve got caught in the door.

You may also use s'en prendre à, which means "to blame," "to challenge," or "to attack":

  • Tu ne peux t'en prendre qu'à toi-même. > You only have yourself to blame.
  • Il s'en est pris à son chien. > He took it out on his dog.

Similarly, the construction s'y prendre à means "to do something about it":

  • Il faut s'y prendre. > We have to do something about it. We have to take care of it.

Expressions With Prendre

There are many idiomatic expressions using the French verb prendre. Among the most common are these which you can use to practice your prendre conjugations.

  • Prendre sa retraite > to retire
  • Prendre une décision > to make a decision
  • Prendre un pot (informal) > to have a drink
  • Qu'est-ce qui t'a pris ? > What's gotten into you?
  • Être pris > to be tied up, busy

Present Indicative

Je prends Je prends le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin. I have breakfast at 7 in the morning.
Tu prends Tu prends le train pour aller travailler. You take the train to go to work.
Il/Elle/On prend Elle prend un verre de vin à la fin de la journée. She has a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Nous prenons Nous prenons beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage. We take many photos during the trip.
Vous prenez Vous prenez le livre de la bibliothèque.  You take the book from the library.
Ils/Elles prennent Ils prennent des notes en classe. They take notes in class.

Present Progressive Indicative

The present progressive in French is formed with the present tense conjugation of the verb être (to be) + en train de + the infinitive verb (prendre).

Je suis en train de prendre Je suis en train de prendre le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin. I am having breakfast at 7 in the morning.
Tu es en train de prendre Tu es en train de prendre le train pour aller travailler. You are taking the train to go to work.
Il/Elle/On est en train de prendre Elle est en train de prendre un verre de vin à la fin de la journée. She is having a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Nous sommes en train de prendre Nous sommes en train de prendre beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage. We are taking many photos during the trip.
Vous êtes en train de prendre Vous êtes en train de prendre le livre de la bibliothèque.  You are taking the book from the library.
Ils/Elles sont en train de prendre Ils sont en train de prendre des notes en classe. They are taking notes in class.

Compound Past Indicative

The passé composé is translated to English as the simple past. It is formed using the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle pris. For example, "we took" is nous avons pris.

Je ai pris J'ai pris le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin. I had breakfast at 7 in the morning.
Tu as pris Tu as pris le train pour aller travailler. You took the train to go to work.
Il/Elle/On a pris Elle a pris un verre de vin à la fin de la journée. She had a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Nous avons pris Nous avons pris beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage. We took many photos during the trip.
Vous avez pris Vous avez pris le livre de la bibliothèque.  You took the book from the library.
Ils/Elles ont pris Ils ont pris des notes en classe. They took notes in class.

Imperfect Indicative

The imperfect tense is used to talk about ongoing events or repeated actions in the past. It can be translated to English as "was taking" or "used to take".

Je prenais Je prenais le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin. I used to eat breakfast at 7 in the morning.
Tu prenais Tu prenais le train pour aller travailler. You used to take the train to go to work.
Il/Elle/On prenait Elle prenait un verre de vin à la fin de la journée. She used to have a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Nous prenions Nous prenions beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage. We used to take many photos during the trip.
Vous preniez Vous preniez le livre de la bibliothèque.  You used to take the book from the library.
Ils/Elles prenaient Ils prenaient des notes en classe. They used to take notes in class.

Simple Future Indicative

Je prendrai Je prendrai le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin. I will eat breakfast at 7 in the morning.
Tu prendras Tu prendras le train pour aller travailler. You will take the train to go to work.
Il/Elle/On prendra Elle prendra un verre de vin à la fin de la journée. She will have a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Nous prendrons Nous prendrons beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage. We will take many photos during the trip.
Vous prendrez Vous prendrez le livre de la bibliothèque.  You will take the book from the library.
Ils/Elles prendront Ils prendront des notes en classe. They will take notes in class.

Near Future Indicative

The near future is translated to English as "going to + verb. In French it is formed with the present tense conjugation of the verb aller (to go) + the infinitive (prendre).

Je vais prendre Je vais prendre le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin. I am going to eat breakfast at 7 in the morning.
Tu vas prendre Tu vas prendre le train pour aller travailler. You are going to take the train to go to work.
Il/Elle/On va prendre Elle va prendre un verre de vin à la fin de la journée. She is going to have a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Nous allons prendre Nous allons prendre beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage. We are going to take many photos during the trip.
Vous allez prendre Vous allez prendre le livre de la bibliothèque.  You are going to take the book from the library.
Ils/Elles vont prendre Ils vont prendre des notes en classe. They are going to take notes in class.

Conditional

The conditional is used to talk about hypothetical or possible events. It can be used to form if clauses or to express a polite request.

Je prendrais Je prendrais le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin si j'avais le temps. I would eat breakfast at 7 in the morning if I had the time.
Tu prendrais Tu prendrais le train pour aller travailler si c'était moins coûteux. You would take the train to go to work if it were less expensive.
Il/Elle/On prendrait Elle prendrait un verre de vin à la fin de la journée si elle n'était trop fatiguée. She would have a glass of wine at the end of the day if she were not too tired.
Nous prendrions Nous prendrions beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage si nous avions une bonne caméra. We would take many photos during the trip if we had a good camera.
Vous prendriez Vous prendriez le livre de la bibliothèque si vous le vouliez.  You would take the book from the library if you wanted it.
Ils/Elles prendraient Ils prendraient des notes en classe s'ils pouvaient. They would take notes in class if they could.

Present Subjunctive

You will use the subjunctive whenever the action of "taking" is uncertain.

Que je prenne Marie propose que je prenne le petit déjeuner à 7 heures du matin. Marie proposes that I eat breakfast at 7 in the morning.
Que tu prennes Jacques suggère que tu prennes le train pour aller travailler. Jacques suggests that you take the train to go to work.
Qu'il/elle/on prenne Anne conseille qu'elle prenne un verre de vin à la fin de la journée. Anne advises that she have a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Que nous prenions Notre mère exige que nous prenions beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage. Our mother demands that we take many photos during the trip.
Que vous preniez Laurent préfère que vous preniez le livre de la bibliothèque. Laurent prefers that you take the book from the library.
Qu'ils/elles prennent Le professeur souhaite qu'ils prennent des notes en classe. The professor wishes that they take notes in class.

Imperative

When using prendre in the imperative to express a command, you do not need to state the subject pronoun. For instance, use prends rather than tu prends. To form the negative commands, simply place ne...pas around the positive command.

Positive commands

Tu prends ! Prends le train pour aller travailler ! Take the train to go to work!
Nous prenons ! Prenons beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage ! Let's take many photos during the trip!
Vous preniez ! Preniez le livre de la bibliothèque ! Take the book from the library!

Negative commands

Tu ne prends pas ! Ne prends pas le train pour aller travailler ! Don't take the train to go to work!
Nous ne prenons pas ! Ne prenons pas beaucoup de photos pendant le voyage ! Let's not take many photos during the trip!
Vous ne preniez pas ! Ne preniez pas le livre de la bibliothèque ! Don't take the book from the library!

Present Participle/Gerund

The present participle in French has several different uses. One of them is to form the gerund (usually preceded by the preposition en), which is often used to talk about simultaneous actions.

Present participle/gerund of Prendre prenant Je t'ai vu en prenant mon petit déjeuner. I saw you while I was eating my breakfast.