How to Conjugate the Verb "Rire" (to Laugh)

Learn How to Talk About Laughing in French

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Conjugating the French word for "to laugh" doesn't take a lot of serious work. Kirill Rudenko / Getty Images

In French, the verb rire means "to laugh." It's a fun and simple word and, hopefully, you'll have plenty of opportunities to use it while studying French. The key to using rire properly in sentences is learning the most common conjugations so you can use it in the present, past, and future tenses. This lesson will show you how that's done.

The Basic Conjugations of Rire

Rire may be a short word, but it's also an irregular verb. This means that it does not follow the same pattern for the infinitive endings as most other French verbs. However, it is similar to sourire (to smile), so you can study the two together to make each a little easier.

To start any conjugation, we need to identify the verb stem. In this case, that is simply  ri-. With that, you'll add the various endings that match the subject pronoun as well as the tense of the sentence. For example, "I am laughing" is je ris and "we laughed" is nous riions.

Present Future Imperfect
je ris rirai riais
tu ris riras riais
il rit rira riait
nous rions rirons riions
vous riez rirez riiez
ils rient riront riaient

The Present Participle of Rire

In French, the present participle is most often formed by adding -ant to the verb stem. Rire follows this rule to form riant.

Rire in the Past Tense

Rather than use the imperfect to indicate the past tense of "laughed," you can use the passé composé. To form it, you will need the auxiliary verb avoir and the very short past participle ri.

It is rather easy to construct this common form of the past tense. For example, "I laughed" is j'ai ri and "we were laughing" is nous avons ri. Notice how avoir is the only word that needs to be conjugated and that it is in the present tense. This is because the past participle indicates that the action has already happened.

More Simple Conjugations of Rire

The verb conjugations above are most common, but you may need to know more forms of rire as you become more fluent in French. For instance, if there's a doubt as to whether someone is laughing, you can use the subjunctive verb mood. In a similar fashion, if someone won't laugh unless something else happens, use the conditional verb mood.

There may also be times when you'll encounter either the passé simple or the imperfect subjunctive. These are, however, most often found in formal French, particularly literature.

Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je rie rirais ris risse
tu ries rirais ris risses
il rie rirait rit rît
nous riions ririons rîmes rissions
vous riiez ririez rîtes rissiez
ils rient riraient rirent rissent

When you wish to use rire in short commands or requests there's no need to include the subject pronoun. This is called the imperative verb mood and rather than saying tu ris, you can simplify it to ris.

(tu) ris
(nous) rions
(vous) riez
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Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the Verb "Rire" (to Laugh)." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Conjugate the Verb "Rire" (to Laugh). Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the Verb "Rire" (to Laugh)." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).