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Commonly used irregular verbs in French and how to conjugate them

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There are two types of verbs in French. The first type is a regular verb.

Regular verbs

These are verbs that follow a set, regular pattern. The patterns exist not only in the present tense but also in other tenses where the verb is used.

Primarily, regular verbs fall into one of three categories: verbs that end in -er, verbs that end in -ir or verbs that end in -re. To conjugate these verbs in the present tense, simply chop off the last two letters and add appropriate endings determined by the subject.

What are irregular verbs?

Irregular verbs, on the other hand, do not follow a pattern. Their final letters do not determine what conjugated endings they’ll receive.

So, these verbs need to be memorized because even though there are far more regular verbs than irregular ones, irregular verbs are some of the most important and common verbs in the French language.

Let’s dive into the world of irregular verbs and find some ways to learn them.

How do you use subject pronouns in French?

Subject pronouns are a type of personal pronoun that indicate who or what is performing the action of a verb.

Subject pronouns are used to conjugate the french verbs with all the pronouns.

Irregular verbs

Singular Plural
Je/J’ - I Nous - We
Tu - You (informal) Vous - You (formal)
Il - He (masculine) Ils - They (masculine)
Elle - She (Feminine) Elles - They (masculine)
On - We (informal)

Note: If the first letter of the next word is a vowel, the je becomes a j’ and is combined with the verb (For example - j’arrive , j’appelle).

The most used irregular verbs in French

Did you know that there are four irregular French verbs that are used the most in our daily lives?

These common irregular verbs are:

  1. être - to be
  2. aller - to go
  3. avoir - to have
  4. faire - to make, to do

Let's learn how these verbs are conjugated.

être – to be

Singular Plural
Tu es Vous êtes
Je suis Nous sommes
il est ils sont
Elle est Elles sont

aller – to go

Singular Plural
Je suis Nous sommes
Tu es Vous êtes
il est ils sont
Elle est Elles sont

avoir – to have

Singular Plural
J’ai Nous avons
Tu as Vous avez
il a Ils ont
Elle a Elles ont

faire – to make, to do

Singular Plural
Je fais Nous faisons
Tu fais Vous faites
il fait ils font
Elle fait Elles font

Let's learn how to conjugate irregular French verbs that follow certain patterns

Some irregular verbs follow patterns, so once you know these patterns, it’s easier to identify and conjugate irregular verbs.

Prendre

Verbs ending in –prendre are all conjugated like prendre:

Pendre - to take

Singular Plural
Je prends Nous prenons
Tu prends Vous prenez
Il prend Ils prennent
Elle prend Elles prennent

Similar verbs that are conjugated like Prendre-

  • apprendre – to learn
  • comprendre – to understand
  • entreprendre – to undertake
  • méprendre – to mistake
  • prendre – to take
  • reprendre – to retake, to take again
  • surprendre – to surprise

Mettre

Mettre and the verbs ending in –mettre all follow the same pattern of conjugation.

Mettre - to put

Singular Plural
Je mets Nous mettons
Tu mets Vous mettez
Il met Ils mettent
Elle met Elles mettent

Similar verbs that are conjugated like Mettre-

  • admettre – to admit
  • commettre – to commit
  • compromettre – to compromise
  • mettre – to put, to place
  • permettre – to permit
  • promettre – to promise
  • remettre – to turn in work, to postpone
  • soumettre – to submit
  • transmettre – to transmit

Venir

Venir and the verbs that end with -nir have their own pattern of conjugation, and in this case, the verb undergoes a stem change. The stem vien is used with je, tu, il, elle; the stem ven is used with nous and vous; the stem vien is used with ils and elles respectively.

Venir - to come

Singular Plural
Je viens Nous venons
Tu viens Vous venez
Il vient Ils viennent
Elle vient Elles viennent

Similar verbs that are conjugated like venir-

  • abstenir – to refrain, to abstain from
  • advenir – to happen
  • appartenir – to belong to
  • circonvenir – to circumvent
  • contenir – to contain
  • convenir – to suit, to be suitable
  • détenir – to detain
  • devenir – to become
  • entretenir – to look after, to support
  • intervenir – to intervene
  • maintenir – to maintain
  • obtenir – to obtain
  • parvenir – to reach, to achieve
  • prévenir – to warn
  • retenir – to retain
  • soutenir – to support
  • souvenir – to remember
  • subvenir – to provide for
  • survenir – to occur, to take place
  • tenir – to hold, to keep
  • venir – to come

Manger

Verbs ending in -ger have a spelling change in the nous form of the verb. An extra -e is added to keep the -g sound soft.

Manger - to eat

Singular Plural
Je mange Nous mangeons
Tu manges Vous mangez
Il mange Ils mangent
Elle mange Elles mangent

Similar verbs that are conjugated like Manger-

  • bouger – to move
  • changer – to change
  • corriger – to correct
  • décourager – to discourage
  • déménager – to move
  • déranger – to disturb
  • diriger – to direct
  • encourager – to encourage
  • engager – to bind
  • exiger – to demand
  • juger – to judge
  • loger – to lodge
  • manger – to eat
  • mélanger – to mix
  • nager – to swim
  • obliger – to oblige
  • partager – to share
  • rédiger – to write
  • voyager – to travel

Lancer

Verbs like lancer that end in -cer also have a spelling change in the nous form. The -c is changed to a -ç to maintain a soft -c sound.

Lancer - to throw

Singular Plural
Je lance Nous lançons
Tu lances Vous lancez
Il lance Ils lancent
Elle lance Elles lancent

Similar verbs that are conjugated like Lancer-

  • annoncer – to announce
  • avancer – to advance
  • commencer – to commence
  • dénoncer – to denounce
  • divorcer – to divorce
  • effacer – to erase
  • lancer – to throw
  • menacer – to threaten
  • placer – to put
  • prononcer – to pronounce
  • remplacer – to replace
  • renoncer – to renounce

Payer

Verbs ending in -yer change the -y to an -i in the je, tu, il, elle, ils and elles forms.

Payer - to pay

Singular Plural
Je paie Nous payons
Tu paies Vous payez
Il paie Ils paient
Elle paie Elles paient

Similar verbs that are conjugated like payer-

  • aboyer – to bark
  • balayer – to sweep
  • effrayer – to frighten
  • s’ennuyer – to be bored
  • envoyer – to send
  • essayer – to try
  • essuyer – to wipe
  • nettoyer – to clean
  • payer – to pay
  • renvoyer – to send back, to fire

Acheter

Some verbs, like acheter, change the -e in the root to -è in the je, tu, il, elle, ils and elles forms.

Acheter - to buy

Singular Plural
J’ achète Nous achetons
Tu achètes Vous achetez
Il achète Ils achètent
Elle achète Elles achètent

Similar verbs that are conjugated like acheter -

  • acheter – to buy
  • amener – to bring
  • enlever – to take off
  • espérer – to hope
  • geler – to freeze
  • se lever – to get up
  • posséder – to own
  • préférer – to prefer
  • se promener – to take a stroll
  • répéter – to repeat
  • suggérer – to suggest

Appeler

Some French verbs that end in -eler and -eter double the l or t in all except nous and vous in the present tense. Example: appeler –> appel/appell -er (to call)

Appeler - to call

Singular Plural
J’ appelle Nous appelons
Tu appelles Vous appelez
Il appelle Ils appellent
Elle appelle Elles appellent

Similar verbs that are conjugated like appeler-

  • appeler – to call
  • épeler – to spell out
  • étinceler – to sparkle
  • feuilleter – to leaf through a book
  • jeter – to jump
  • renouveler – to renew

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How to conjugate irregular French verbs that don’t follow a specific pattern

Most irregular French verbs don’t follow any specific pattern and therefore, have to be memorized.

So, let’s learn a few of them.

dire – to say, to tell

Singular Plural
Je dis Nous disons
Tu dis Vous dites
il dit Ils disent
Elle dit Elles disent

lire - to read

Singular Plural
Je lis Nous lisons
Tu lis Vous lisez
il lit Ils lisent
Elle lit Elles lisent

pouvoir – to be able to do

Singular Plural
Je peux Nous pouvons
Tu peux Vous pouvez
Il peut Ils peuvent
Elle peut Elles peuvent

savoir – to know, to know how to

Singular Plural
Je sais Nous savons
Tu sais Vous savez
Il sait Ils savent
Elle sait Elles savent

voir – to see

Singular Plural
Je vois Nous voyons
Tu vois Vous voyez
Il voit Ils voient
Elle voit Elles voient

vouloir – to want

Singular Plural
Je veux Nous voulons
Tu veux Vous voulez
Il veut Ils veulent
Elle veut Elles veulent

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