Conjugations of Prévenir (to Warn) in French

Close-Up Of Warning tape

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When you want "to warn" someone about something in French, you can use the verb prévenir. It also means "to prevent" and you'll want to know the verb's conjugations so you can use it properly in conversation. This lesson will introduce you to those so you can say things such as "I warned" or "we prevented."

The Basic Conjugations of Prévenir

Prévenir is an irregular verb and that means it's a little more challenging than some other French verbs. While you cannot rely on common rules when studying these conjugations, all verbs ending in -venir and -tenir are conjugated this way. It would be a good idea to take on a few at a time to make each a little easier to memorize.

The indicative mood is the best place to begin with any conjugation. This is where you will find the basic present, future, and imperfect past tenses which you will use most often in conversation.

Using the chart, you can match the subject pronoun with the appropriate tense for your sentence. This will show you which endings are added to the verb stem of prév-. For example, je préviens means "I am warning" while nous prévenions means "we warned."

Present Future Imperfect
je préviens préviendrai prévenais
tu préviens préviendras prévenais
il prévient préviendra prévenait
nous prévenons préviendrons prévenions
vous prévenez préviendrez préveniez
ils préviennent préviendront prévenaient

Present Participle

The present participle of prévenir is prévenant. It is used as a verb, of course, though there are also times when you may use it as a noun or adjective.

Compound Past Tense

In French, the passé composé is a common form of the past tense. It is a compound and requires an auxiliary verb as well as the past participle prévenu.

To form it, conjugate avoir to match the subject in the present tense, then add prévenu. This results in phrases such as j'ai prévenu (I warned) and nous avons prévenu (we warned).

More Simple Conjugations

A few more simple conjugations may be needed in some of your French conversations as well. Among those are the subjunctive and the conditional. While the former draws uncertainty to the verb's action, the latter implies that it's dependent on certain conditions.

In formal French literature, you will likely encounter the passé simple and the imperfect subjunctive. While they are used less frequently than other conjugations, they are still good to know.

Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je prévienne préviendrais prévins prévinsse
tu préviennes préviendrais prévins prévinsses
il prévienne préviendrait prévint prévînt
nous prévenions préviendrions prévînmes prévinssions
vous préveniez préviendriez prévîntes prévinssiez
ils préviennent préviendraient prévinrent prévinssent

The French imperative is used for short and direct statements and questions, so it can be quite useful with a verb like prévenir. When using it, skip the subject pronoun and simplify tu préviens to préviens.

(tu) préviens
(nous) prévenons
(vous) prévenez
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Team, ThoughtCo. "Conjugations of Prévenir (to Warn) in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Conjugations of Prévenir (to Warn) in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Conjugations of Prévenir (to Warn) in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 29, 2023).