Conjugating French Verbs in the Present tense

French Tutorial

Conjugating French Verbs in the Present tense

Intro

Present Tense: Occurring in the present; ongoing in the present
Infinitive: Base of the word (to Eat, to Sleep)
Conjugate: Manipulate or modify an infinitive of a verb to be in accordance with the voice, mood, or tense.

The present tense is no doubt the most frequently used verb tense in any language! (I am hungry, I sleep, I eat, etc.) That is why you must learn to take a verb in its simplest form, infinitive, and conjugate it to the present tense.

Sample Problem

1) Je manger…
We want to make it mean I eat

2) Il finir…
We want to make it mean He finishes

3) Vous perdre…
We want to make it mean You lose

Solution

Firstly, you must understand that each conjugation in whatever tense is relative to the subject (commonly referred to as Subject-Verb Agreement)

Ex: They eats… They eat…

It is the exact same in French; hence, the necessity of your familiarity and knowledge of the Subject pronouns in French.

  • Je = I
  • Tu = You (Familiar, Singular)
  • Vous = You (Unfamiliar/Formal, Plural)
  • Il = He/It (Masculine)
  • Elle = She/It (Feminine)
  • Ils/Elles = They
  • Nous = We

In French, there are three different verb forms; meaning, their infinitives have the same ending. (manger, nager, finir, sentir, etc.)

  • -er (Most common)
  • -ir (2nd Most common)
  • -re (Least common)

The procedure for all three verb forms is exactly the same when conjugating in the present tense.
**3 Steps to Conjugate French Verbs in the Present Tense**
1) Remove the verb ending from the infinitive (finir -> fin)
2) Look at the subject with which it must be in accordance (Je, Il, etc.)
3) Depending on the subject pronoun, or the subject, append the necessary ending for that subject.

Each verb types has its own set of endings for each subject.

-Er

  • Je -> -e
  • Il/Elle -> -e
  • Nous -> -ions
  • Vous -> -ez
  • Ils/Elles -> -ent
  • Tu -> -es

-Ir

  • Je -> -is
  • Il/Elle -> -it
  • Nous -> -issons
  • Vous -> -issez
  • Ils/Elles -> -issent
  • Tu -> -is

-Re

  • Je -> -s
  • Il/Elle -> (No ending necessary)
  • Nous -> -ons
  • Vous -> -ez
  • Ils/Elles -> -ent
  • Tu -> -s

The answer to the three problems:
1) Je manger e -> Je mange
2) Il finir it -> Il finit
3) Vous perdre ez -> Vous perdez

You have successfully conjugated the three different verb forms to the present tense!

NOTE: There are several verbs that do not conform to the normal pattern of conjugation; thus, you must learn those by heart. You will eventually, however, use them frequently, so it will become instinctual. The majority of the time the above method will work!



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For the past 4 years, I have vigorously studied French grammar; in addition, I have engaged in several translation projects for various online entities and websites, of which I feel have allowed me to substantially increase my knowledge of the grammar, syntax, and particularly its application i...
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