Think of all the things you can possibly do in one day, that’s also a lot of verbs to conjugate ! To simplify things, French has classified regular verbs into three groups, based on the ending of their infinitives : -er (manger to eat), -ir (finir to finish), -re (attendre to wait). Each verb groups follows a pattern of conjugation for every tense. In this lesson you will learn how to recognize the verb groups using infinitives, and their pattern of conjugation in the present tense.
The “first group” : -er verbs
More than 80 percent of French verbs are -er verbs. It’s great for you, because after you know their pattern of conjugation in the present tense, you can pretty much conjugate 80 percent of French verbs !
To conjugate a regular -er verb, drop the -er of the infinitive to get the stem ( le radical in French). Then add the six present tense endings specific to -er verbs : -e, -es, -e, -ons, -ez, -ent. That’s it… easy !
|Aimer (to like)
|Chanter (to sing)
|Jouer (to play)
Warning : Aller (to go) is a very common verb, and it looks like a regular -er verb, but it is not, aller is actually a irregular verb and belongs to the third group (see below).
The “second group” : -ir verbs
The -ir verb group is the second most common verb type. To form the present tense of a regular -ir verb, drop the -ir of the infinitive to get the stem for the present tense conjugation. Then add the present tense endings specific to -ir verbs: -is, -is, -it, -issons, -issez, -issent.
|Finir (to finish)
|Grandir (to grow)
|Réussir (to succeed)
Most of -ir verbs follow this pattern of conjugation but be careful, some -ir verbs actually belong to the third group and follow an other pattern. To make sure that an –ir verb belongs to the second group you have to look to its present participle, if it ends with -issant this verb belongs to the second group and follows the pattern you just learned, otherwise it’s a third group verb…
examples of present participles :
finissant (finishing) ; grandissant (growing); réussissant (succeeding) ; choisissant (choosing)
The “third group” : the irregular verbs
Here are all the verbs that don’t belong to the first or second groups because they are actually irregular. This third group can be divided into four sub-categories : irregular verbs in -ir, verbs in -oir, verbs in -re, and the verb aller (to go).
Unfortunately there are no general pattern here so you will have to learn those verbs one by one… However some -dre verbs like attendre (to wait) or vendre (to sell) do follow a certain pattern : for those verbs drop the -dre then add the six endings -ds, -ds, -d, -dons, -dez, -dent. But be careful because some -dre verbs like prendre (to take) or éteindre (to switch off) don’t follow this pattern…
Here are some third group verbs conjugations :
|Ouvrir (to open)
|Mourir (to die)
|Voir (to see)
|Savoir (to know)
|Attendre (to wait)
|Vendre (to sell)
|Prendre (to take)
|Éteindre (to switch off)
|Aller (to go)