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Know French Verb Être and Its Conjugations

The French verb être is one complicated verb to deal with, and you’ll use it constantly in French. Follow our guide to using être, and you’ll make a big impact on your French language skills.

We created a Quiz, which is at the end of this article, so that you can test your knowledge on French Verb Être → OK, take me to the Quiz!

Être (to be) is among the most important verbs that you will ever learn. It shows up all the time in everyday conversation, including many idiomatic expressions. So, you definitely want to spend some time getting to know this essential French verb.

Être is used to talk about a state of being, to show ownership, and to tell one’s profession. The word also functions as an auxiliary verb for a number of French verbs.

Here, we provide a guide on how to effectively use the French verb être, along with conjugation tables to practice the different tenses and moods. You can also get help from our French tutors for any other guidance and support.

How to Use Être

Before we start conjugating, we’ll review the different ways to use être.

Express State of Being, Ownership, or Profession

  • To talk about a state of being: Je suis ravi de te voir. (I’m happy to see you.)
  • To show ownership: C’est ma maison. (It’s my house.)
  • To tell one’s profession: Je suis médecin. (I’m a doctor.)

Être as an Auxiliary Verb

There are two main ways the French verb être is used as an auxiliary verb:

1. Compound Tenses

Since être is an auxiliary verb, it’s used to form compound tenses along with the past participle of other French verbs: Je suis revenu au bureau il y a deux semaines. (I came back to the office two weeks ago.)

2. Passive Voice

Être is placed before a past participle when forming passive tenses in French.

a) Passive Compound Past (Passé composé au passif): This is done using the perfect tense of être followed by a past participle.

b) Passive Present (Présent au passif): Here, the present tense of être is followed by a past participle.

c) Passive Future (Futur au passif): This is the future tense of être followed by a past participle.

d) Passive Past Conditional (Passé conditionnel au passif): This is formed using the passive past conditional of être followed by a past participle.

You can use repetition and video below to help refine your pronunciation of different forms être:

How to Conjugate Être

The conjugation of être can be a bit challenging since it’s an irregular verb. Since irregular verbs don’t follow regular patterns, you’re required to internalize the fundamental concepts of conjugating être. You can find several key conjugations in the tables that follow.

Être Conjugated (Indicative Mood/Indicatif)

Present/Présent

je suisI am
tu esyou are
il/elle esthe/she is
nous sommeswe are
vous êtesyou are
ils/elles sontthey are

Imperfect/Imparfait

j’étaisI was being
tu étaisyou were being
il/elle étaithe/she was being
nous étionswe were being
vous étiezyou were being
ils/elles étaientthey were being

Future/Futur 

je seraiI will be
tu serasyou will be
il/elle serahe/she will be
nous seronswe will be
vous serezyou will be
ils/elles serontthey will be

Compound Past/Passé composé

j’ai étéI was
tu as étéyou were
il/elle a étéhe/she was
nous avons étéwe were
vous avez étéyou were
ils/elles ont ététhey were

 

Simple Past/Passé simple

je fusI was
tu fusyou were
il/elle futhe/she was
nous fûmeswe were
vous fûtesyou were
ils/elles furentthey were

Pluperfect/Plus-que-parfait

j’avais étéI had been
tu avais étéyou had been
il/elle avait étéhe/she had been
nous avions étéwe had been
vous aviez étéyou had been
ils/elles avaient ététhey had been

Past anterior/Passé antérieur

j’eus étéI had been
tu eus étéyou had been
il/elle eut étéhe/she had been
nous eûmes étéwe had been
vous eûtes étéyou had been
ils/elles eurent ététhey had been

Future Perfect/Futur antérieur

j’aurai étéI will have been
tu auras étéyou will have been
il/elle aura étéhe/she will have been
nous aurons étéwe will have been
vous aurez étéyou will have been
ils/elles auront ététhey will have been

Être Conjugated (Subjunctive Mood/Subjonctif)

Present/Présent

que je soisthat I am
que tu soisthat you are
qu’il/elle soitthat he/she is
que nous soyonsthat we are
que vous soyezthat you are
qu’ils/elles soientthat they are

Imperfect/Imparfait

que je fussethat I would be
que tu fussesthat you would be
qu’il/elle/on fûtthat he/she would be
que nous fussionsthat we would be
que vous fussiezthat you would be
qu’ils/elles fussentthat they would be

Past/Passé

que j’aie ététhat I have been
que tu aies ététhat you have been
qu’il/elle ait ététhat he/she has been
que nous ayons ététhat we have been
que vous ayez ététhat you have been
qu’ils/elles aient ététhat they have been

Pluperfect/Plus-que-parfait

que j’eusse ététhat I would have been
que tu eusses ététhat you would have been
qu’il/elle eût ététhat he/she would have been
que nous eussions ététhat we would have been
que vous eussiez ététhat you would have been
qu’ils/elles eussent ététhat they would have been

Être Conjugated (Conditional Mood/Conditionnel)

Present/Présent

je seraisI would be
tu seraisyou would be
il/elle seraithe/she would be
nous serionswe would be
vous seriezyou would be
ils/elles seraientthey would be

Past/Passé (1st form)

j’aurais étéI would have been
tu aurais étéyou would have been
il/elle aurait étéhe/she would have been
nous aurions étéwe would have been
vous auriez étéyou would have been
ils/elles auraient ététhey would have been

Past/Passé (2nd form)

j’eusse étéI would have been
tu eusses étéyou would have been
il/elle eût étéhe/she would have been
nous eussions étéwe would have been
vous eussiez étéyou would have been
ils/elles eussent ététhey would have been

Below are some exercises to help you understand how to use être.

1. Elle ____ italienne. (She is Italian.)

The correct answer is: Elle est italienne.

2. Vous ____ merveilleux. (You are wonderful.)

The correct answer is: Vous êtes merveilleux.

3. Il ____ adorable. (He is adorable.)

The correct answer is: Il est adorable.

4. Ils ____ determinés. (They are determined.)

The correct answer is: Ils sont déterminés.

5. Nous _____ tous des employés. (We are all employees.)

The correct answer is: Nous sommes tous des employés.

Conclusion

Invest some time and energy toward understanding this widely used French verb être. Also brush up on other similar core verbs such as faire, avoir, manger, dire, voir, pouvoir and many others. You don’t need to memorize them all perfectly in order to speak French effectively. You just have to keep reading French content and practice conversing and building sentences. Listen to audio drills as well, and you’ve got a recipe for great French communication skills!

Quiz: Test your knowledge of French Verb Être!

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etre conjugation, Know French Verb Être and Its Conjugations

French Verb Être

1 / 6

“Cela vous est conseillé.” means

2 / 6

“Pierre est chez le docteur car il est malade” means

3 / 6

“Cette orange est à toi.” means

4 / 6

“C’est à elle !” means

5 / 6

“Je suis en train de lire un magazine.” means

6 / 6

“J’ai été surpris par sa réaction.” means

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