Learn the Simple Conjugations for "Tomber" (to Fall)

A French Lesson That Teaches You to Say "Fell" and "Falling"

Falling into a mud puddle

 

Ambre Haller Getty Images

One of the most used verbs in the French language, tomber means "to fall." This could be used for a physical fall or for something like falling in love (tomber amoureux). When you want to say "fell" or "falling," a conjugation is required and that is the subject of this French lesson.

The Basic Conjugations of Tomber

Tomber is a regular -er verb, which does make it easier because it follows the conjugation rules for the majority of French verbs. Words like rêver (to dream) and monter (to go up) use the same endings and with each of these you study, the new ones become a little easier.

The indicative mood is the most common. It includes the basic present, future, and imperfect past tenses you'll need for most conversations. Using the chart, you can study tomber's conjugations by finding the subject pronoun and the corresponding tense needed for your sentence. As an example, je tombe means "I am falling" and nous tombions means "we fell."

Present Future Imperfect
je tombe tomberai tombais
tu tombes tomberas tombais
il tombe tombera tombait
nous tombons tomberons tombions
vous tombez tomberez tombiez
ils tombent tomberont tombaient

You might find it easier to memorize these conjugations if you practice them in context. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to do so with a verb like tomber. An interesting expression you may like is tomber dans les pommes and it's not used for "to fall into apples" like you may expect.

The Present Participle of Tomber

As a regular verb, the present participle conjugation of tomber is really easy. Simply add -ant to the verb stem and you have tombant.

Tomber in the Compound Past Tense

Passé composé is the French compound past tense. Its main component is the past participle tombé, though you'll also need an auxiliary verb. In this case, it's être.

To form it, conjugate être into the present tense appropriate to the subject, then add the past participle. This produces phrases like je suis tombé for "I fell" and nous sommes tombé for "we fell."

More Simple Conjugations of Tomber

It's a good idea to add a few more basic conjugations of tomber to your vocabulary. Each has their own use and will only increase your French fluency.

The subjunctive, for example, implies uncertainty to the act of falling. The conditional is used when the act is dependent on conditions. Both the passé simple and the imperfect subjunctive are found in formal French writing.

Subjunctive Conditional Passé Simple Imperfect Subjunctive
je tombe tomberais tombai tombasse
tu tombes tomberais tombas tombasses
il tombe tomberait tomba tombât
nous tombions tomberions tombâmes tombassions
vous tombiez tomberiez tombâtes tombassiez
ils tombent tomberaient tombèrent tombassent

All formality is lost when using the French imperative. Here, you can skip the subject pronoun and simply use the verb so you can be as assertive and to the point as possible.

Imperative
(tu) tombe
(nous) tombons
(vous) tombez