How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Soutenir' ('to Support')

'Soutenir' is conjugated like other verbs ending in '-tenir' and '-venir'

Nurse Helping Man Walk
Alcohol Can Delay Healing of Fractures. © Getty Images

Soutenir ('to support," "to give support to," "to defend," "to maintain") is a common French verb that belongs to one of the groups within irregular -ir verbs that display some conjugation patterns: a first group of verbs that are conjugated like partir; a second group conjugated like verbs ending in -llir, -frir,  or -vrir; almost all of which are conjugated like regular -er verbs; and a third group ending in -enir, such as tenir ("to hold") and venir ("to come"), which follow a shared conjugation pattern in the present tense.

The verb soutenir belongs to the third group of irregular -ir verbs ending in -enir that are conjugated like tenir and venir. Note that the conjugations in the table at the bottom of the page are only those for simple tenses; compound conjugations of soutenir, which include a form of the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle soutenu, are not included.

There's one major difference in the compound tenses of tenir, venir, and their derivatives: Tenir and its derivatives use avoir as their auxiliary verb, while venir and most of its derivatives use être. There are many verbs conjugated like these two major French verbs.


Verbs that end in -tenir are all conjugated the same way. They all take avoir as their auxiliary verb.

  • s'abstenir > to refrain, abstain from
  • appartenir > to belong to
  • contenir > to contain
  • détenir > to detain
  • entretenir > to look after, support, foster, keep alive
  • maintenir > to maintain
  • obtenir to obtain
  • retenir > to retain
  • tenir > to hold, keep


Most verbs that end in -venir use être as their auxiliary verb. A few, such as circonvenir, prévenir, and se souvenir (see below) use avoir.

  • advenir > to happen
  • circonvenir > to circumvent, get around
  • contrevenir > to contravene
  • convenir > to suit, be suitable
  • devenir > to become
  • intervenir > to intervene
  • parvenir > to reach, achieve
  • prévenir > to warn
  • provenir > to come from, be due to
  • revenir > to come back
  • se souvenir de to remember
  • subvenir > to provide for
  • survenir > to occur, take place
  • venir > to come

Expressions and Examples With 'Soutenir'

  • Sa présence m'a beaucoup soutenue dans cette épreuve. > His presence was a great comfort to me in this ordeal
  • Tu soutiens toujours ta fille contre moi ! > You always side with your daughter against me !
  • soutenir une équipe > to be a fan of / to support a sports team
  • Je pense que nous sommes libres mais elle soutient le contraire> I think that we're free but she claims (that) the opposite is true.
  • Il soutient que tu mens. > He keeps saying that you're a liar.
  • soutenir la comparaison avec > to stand / to bear comparison with
  • soutenir un siège militaire > to withstand a siege
  • soutenir sa thèse > to defend one's thesis
  • se soutenir (reciprocal pronominal) > to stand by each other, to stick together
  • se soutenir (intransitive pronominal) > to hold oneself up, to support oneself
  • Le vieillard n'arrivait plus à se soutenir sur ses jambes. > The old man's legs could no longer support / carry him.
  • Elle se soutenait avec peine. > She could hardly stay upright.


Tip: Concentrate on the most useful tenses (présent, imparfait, passé composé) and get used to using them in context. Once you've mastered them, move on to the rest.

Training with an audio source may also be helpful. There are many liaisons, elisions, and modern glidings used with French verbs, and the written form may mislead you such that you end up using the wrong pronunciation.

Simple Conjugations of the Irregular French '-ir' Verb 'Soutenir'

Present Future Imperfect Present participle
je soutiens soutiendrai soutenais soutenant
tu soutiens soutiendras soutenais
il soutient soutiendra soutenait
nous soutenons soutiendrons soutenions
vous soutenez soutiendrez souteniez
ils soutiennent soutiendront soutenaient
Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive
je soutienne soutiendrais soutins soutinsse
tu soutiennes soutiendrais soutins soutinsses
il soutienne soutiendrait soutint soutînt
nous soutenions soutiendrions soutînmes soutinssions
vous souteniez soutiendriez soutîntes soutinssiez
ils soutiennent soutiendraient soutinrent soutinssent
tu soutiens
nous soutenons
vous soutenez
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Soutenir' ('to Support')." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Soutenir' ('to Support'). Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb 'Soutenir' ('to Support')." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).