How to Conjugate "Se Taire" (to Be Quiet) in French

"Se Taire" is pronominal, so there are tricks you need to know

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Se taire is the French verb that means "to be quiet." This is a pronominal verb and an irregular one, so there are a couple of special things you need to know about its conjugations. This lesson will explain what those are and help you learn and memorize the simplest forms of se taire.

Se Taire Is a Pronominal Verb

You may already have noticed that se taire is a two-word verb. It is what we call a pronominal verb, meaning that the action can only be performed by the subject itself.

The se of se taire is a reflexive pronoun and it changes according to the subject pronoun. In English, we would use the words myself, yourself, himself, etc. to indicate this. For example, you can make yourself be quiet or they can make themselves be quiet.

The Basic Conjugations of Se Taire

The fact that se taire is a pronominal verb does complicate its conjugations, though that part isn't too difficult. All you have to remember is that the reflexive verb is required and that it must change with the subject pronoun. This means you will use je me or nous nous rather than je or nous alone as you would in most French verb conjugations.

To make things just a little more complicated, se taire is also an irregular verb. It does not follow any of the common patterns we're used to. This means you have some extra work to do when memorizing it, but it will come with practice.

With all that said, let's begin by studying the indicative verb mood because this is the one you'll use most often for se taire.

Here you will find the common present, future, and imperfect past tenses to use in everyday conversation.

Using the chart, find the subject and reflexive pronouns appropriate to your sentence, then match it up with the proper tense to find the correct conjugation. For example, "I am being quiet" is je me tais and "we were quiet" is nous nous taisions.

 PresentFutureImperfect
je metaistairaitaisais
tu tetaistairastaisais
il setaittairataisait
nous nous taisonstaironstaisions
vous voustaiseztaireztaisiez
ils setaisenttaironttaisaient

The Present Participle of Se Taire

The present participle of se taire is se taisant. While it's most useful as a verb, you may also use it as an adjective or noun in certain circumstances.

Se Taire in the Compound Past Tense

Another way to express the past tense is the compound known as the passé composé in French. This requires the auxiliary verb être and the past participle tu. Once again, you will also need both the subject and reflexive pronouns.

The key to the passé composé is to conjugate être to the present tense and follow it with the past participle. Since se taire can be a bit confusing, we'll look at all of the possibilities:

  • je me suis tu - I was quiet
  • tu t'es tu - you were quiet
  • il s'est tu - he was quiet
  • nous nous sommes tus - we were quiet
  • vous vous êtes tus - you all were quiet
  • ils se sont tus - they were quiet

More Simple Conjugations of Se Taire

Among the other simple conjugations you'll want to study for se taire are those that question the act of being quiet. If that may or may not happen, use the subjunctive.

If that is dependent on something, use the conditional.

You should only encounter the passé simple and the imperfect subjunctive when reading or writing as these are literary tenses for the French language.

 SubjunctiveConditionalPassé SimpleImperfect Subjunctive
je metaisetairaistustusse
tu tetaisestairaistustusses
il setaisetairaittuttût
nous noustaisionstairionstûmestussions
vous voustaisieztairieztûtestussiez
ils setaisenttairaientturenttussent

The reflexive pronoun is still required when using se taire in the imperative, though it's attached to the end. The subject pronoun is not required, so you can simplify tu tais-toi to tais-toi.

 Imperative
(tu)tais-toi
(nous) taisons-nous
(vous)taisez-vous