How to Use the French Verb "Vivre" (to Live)

'Joie de Vivre' message in light box on white table

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The French verb vivre (pronounced "veev-ruh") is a highly irregular -re verb with a conjugation that doesn't follow any pattern. Translated, it means "to live" and is one of the most common in the language. Other irregular -re verbs include: absoudre, boire, clore, conclure, conduire, confire, connaître, coudre, croire, dire, écrire, faire, inscrire, lire, moudre, naître, plaire, rire, suivre and vivre. 

Because these words do not follow the regular rules of conjugation, you'll have to memorize each one individually, something many students find challenging at first.

Usage and Expressions

Verbs that end in -vivre, such as revivre and survivre are conjugated the same as vivre. Note that the table below shows only simple conjugations. Compound conjugations, which include a form of the auxiliary verb avoir and the past participle, are not included.

  • Vivre vieux > to live to a ripe old age
  • Elle a vécu jusqu'à 95 ans. > She lived to 95.
  • Il ne lui reste plus longtemps à vivre. > He hasn't got much time left to live.
  • avoir vécu > to have had one's day
  • On ne vit plus. > This isn't a life. / This isn't what you call living.
  • Ils vécurent heureux et eurent beaucoup d'enfants. / And they lived happily ever after.
  • vivre avec quelqu'un > to live / reside with someone
  • être facile à vivre > to be easygoing / to be easy to live with or get along with
  • vivre aux crochets de quelqu'un > to sponge off someone
  • vivre d'amour et d'eau fraîche > to live on love alone
  • vivre des temps difficiles > to live through / experience difficult times
  • Elle a mal vécu mon départ. > She couldn't cope well after I left.
  • Il faut vivre l'instant présent. > We should live for the moment.


     Present Future Imperfect Present participle
    ilvitvivravivaitPassé composé
    nousvivonsvivronsvivions   Auxiliary verb avoir
    vousvivezvivrezviviez   Past participlevécu
     Subjunctive Conditional Passé simple Imperfect subjunctive

    (nous) vivons