'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 wantPouvoir - can, to be able toDevoir, 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?
jeveuxpeuxdois
tuveuxpeuxdois
ilveutpeutdoit
nousvoulonspouvonsdevons
vousvoulezpouvezdevez
ilsveulentpeuventdoivent

 

Conjugations of vouloir in all tenses

Conjugations of pouvoir in all tenses

Conjugations of devoir in all tenses

Using vouloir

Using pouvoir

Using devoir

Expressions with vouloir

Expressions with pouvoir

Devoir vs Falloir