'Vouloir,' 'Pouvoir,' 'Devoir': French Verbs

These similarly conjugated verbs mean to "want," "be able," and "have to"

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It is important to understand and be able to use three irregular French verbs—vouloir, pouvoir, and devoir—as they are very common as well as useful. They are often taught together because of the similarities in their conjugations.

Conjugating "Vouloir," "Pouvoir," and "Devoir"

The table below shows the basic conjugations and meaning of these verbs together with brief examples. Click the links where indicated to take you to articles that provide more complete conjugation tables and details about these verbs.

Vouloir - to want Pouvoir - can, to be able to Devoir, must, to have to
Je veux danser avec toi.
I want to dance with you.
Je peux danser avec toi.
I can dance with you.

Je dois danser avec toi.
I have to dance with you.

Voulez-vous parler?
Do you wish to speak?

Pouvez-vous parler?
Can you speak?

Devez-vous parler?
Do you need to speak?
je veux peux dois
tu veux peux dois
il veut peut doit
nous voulons pouvons devons
vous voulez pouvez devez
ils veulent peuvent doivent