How to Conjugate "Reconnaître" (to Recognize) in French

An Irregular Verb Conjugation Lesson

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When you want to say "I recognized" or "we will recognize" in French, you'll use the verb reconnaître. In order to change it into the past or future tense, however, you will need to know its conjugations. This may not be the easiest French lesson, but we will show you how to form the essential forms of reconnaîre that you'll need.

The Basic Conjugations of Reconnaître

In French, there are easy verb conjugations and some that are more of a challenge. Reconnaître falls into the latter category. That's because it is an irregular verb, so it does not follow a common rule in the conjugations. However, nearly all French verbs ending in -aître are conjugated this way. If you study a few together, each can be a little easier.

For reconnaître, the verb stem (or radical) is reconn-. To this, you will add a variety of endings that match both the subject pronoun and the tense. This chart will help you learn the basics, including the common present, future, and imperfect past tenses.

As an example, "I recognize" is je reconnais and "we will recognize" is nous reconnaîtrons. Practicing these in context will help you memorize them.

Present Future Imperfect
je reconnais reconnaîtrai reconnaissais
tu reconnais reconnaîtras reconnaissais
il reconnaît reconnaîtra reconnaissait
nous reconnaissons reconnaîtrons reconnaissions
vous reconnaissez reconnaîtrez reconnaissiez
ils reconnaissent reconnaîtront reconnaissaient

The Present Participle of Reconnaître

The present participle of reconnaître is reconnaissant. It is a verb, though there are some circumstances in which you can use it as an adjective or noun as well.

Reconnaître in the Compound Past Tense

The compound past tense in French is called the passé composé. It requires use of the past participle reconnu and the present tense conjugate of the auxiliary verb avoir. For example, "I recognized" is j'ai reconnu and "we recognized" is nous avons reconnu.

More Simple Conjugations of Reconnaître

When you're unsure if you recognize something, you might use the subjunctive verb mood. On the other hand, if you'll only recognize something if something else happens, you can use the conditional.

In formal literature, you will find either the passé simple or the imperfect subjunctive forms of reconnaître.

Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je reconnaisse reconnaîtrais reconnus reconnusse
tu reconnaisses reconnaîtrais reconnus reconnusses
il reconnaisse reconnaîtrait reconnut reconnût
nous reconnaissions reconnaîtrions reconnûmes reconnussions
vous reconnaissiez reconnaîtriez reconnûtes reconnussiez
ils reconnaissent reconnaîtraient reconnurent reconnussent

The French imperative drops all formality and skips the subject pronoun. When using reconnaître in direct statements, you can simplify it from tu reconnais to reconnais.

Imperative
(tu) reconnais
(nous) reconnaissons
(vous) reconnaissez