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    How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French: Tips and Tricks

    How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French? French is a complicated language, one must say. But, it is equally easy to learn and use; we say it loud. Why this contradiction, you may ask? It is because the conjugation of the French verbs is easy, yet complicated. While most of the French verbs are conjugated frequently, there are these stubborn French Irregular Verbs that pose the problem.

    How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French, How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French: Tips and Tricks
    By Sami
    4 weeks ago
    How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French, How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French: Tips and Tricks

    French Grammar French Lessons

    How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French: Tips and Tricks

However, we suggest not to fret! You might be confused about a regular and irregular verb, change in spelling while conjugating, change of accent, and many other aspects of the topic. This article makes it easy for you to crack the conjugation of French irregular verbs with great ease.

Learning French is not that big of a deal. In fact, when you know the right tips and tricks, it becomes easier than learning any language.

Irregular verbs share a common pattern for conjugating, and here we have laid down all those common patterns that would help you learn conjugating French irregular verbs with ease.

So, let us begin:

Understanding French Irregular Verbs?

Just as the name suggests, Irregular verbs are those verbs that do not abide by the common rules of conjugation. Some common examples of verbs and their patterns for conjugation are:

-er verbs: same pattern of change in ending
-ir and -re verbs: same set of rules for conjugation

However, you need to learn the conjugation of Irregular verbs on an individual basis.

BUT, this does not mean that you have to dig into each and every Irregular verb in the French dictionary. There are still rules that apply to common types of Irregular verbs. They can be grouped together, and common conjugation can be done.

Patterns and Tricks to conjugate Irregular Verbs in French:

4 Most Common Irregular Verbs

So, let us start with the 4 most common Irregular Verbs in French, although they cannot be grouped together, and each one of the verbs has its own set of rules when it comes to conjugation, their frequent use in the French language makes them easy to memorize. However, for this, you need to get familiar with them first:

Être (To Be)

A purely irregular verb, être is used frequently and can be quoted as an essential verb. The verb also finds its use in making passé composé (perfect tense) by acting as an auxiliary. For example: Ne sont‐ils pas partis? (Didn’t they leave?)

ConjugationTheir English meaning
Je suis (I am)
Tu es (You are)
Il/Elle/On est (He/She/One is)
Nous sommes (We are)
Vous êtes (You are)
Ils/Elles sont(They are)

Avoir (To Have)

Another verb to form passe composé Avoir is also rated as a powerful verb used as a main auxiliary verb.  For example: J’ai mangé du pain. (I ate some bread.).

ConjugationTheir English meaning
J’ai(I have)
Tu asYou have
Il/elle/on aHe/she/it has
Nous avonsWe have
Vous avezYou have
Ils/elles ontThey have

Aller (To Go)

Aller is used to create the futur proche (near future) and is an irregular verb. For example: Je vais aller au cinema.(I am going to go to the cinema).

ConjugationTheir English meaning
Je vaisI go
Tu vasYou go
Il/elle/on vaHe/she/it goes
Nous allonsWe go
Vous allezYou go
Ils/elles vontThey go

Faire (To Do)

One of the most meaningful and useful irregular verbs in the French dictionary, Faire, is used for a range of expressions. For example: Je fais mes devoirs rapidement. (I do my homework quickly) to Je suis en train de faire mes devoirs rapidement. (I am doing my homework quickly.)

faire attention (to pay attention) to faire le ménage (to do the chores/housework).

ConjugationTheir English meaning
Je faisI do
Tu faisYou do
Il/elle/on faitHe/she/it does
Nous faisonsWe do
Vous faitesYou do
Ils/elles fontThey do

Spelling-change Verbs

Spelling change verbs are one of the most irritating ones. Widely, spelling change verbs are conjugated following the rules that fit their respective endings.

However, when used with the subject nous and/or vous, the spelling of the conjugated verb changes differently. We need to do a lot of things; either add an extra letter or change or add an accent.

Some of the most common types of spelling-change verbs are:

Verbs ending with -ger

The goal here is to maintain the soft sound, and for this you need to Insert a silent e between g and a and g and o. It most commonly affects the nous form. Some common examples of this type of verb are: nager, arranger, changer, corriger, déménager, déranger, etc.

Accent Omission Verbs

There are these verbs which demand change in accent depending upon the subject while conjugating. The conjugated verb closely resembles its infinitive form when used with nous & vous. For example: acheter (verb) & Préférer (verb)

Accent Addition Verbs

Unlike accent omission verbs, an accent is added to these types of verbs. Common examples are commencer and effacer. The accent is added in the nous and vous forms.

Keep the “Y” Verbs

Much like the English language, the verbs with a y in them follow the conversion rule;‘y’ changes to ‘i’. For example: In payer & envoyer, the ‘y’ changes to ‘i’ while conjugating.

Irregular Verbs in the Pouvoir Family

Another complex verb of the French dictionary is Pouvoir. They have something in common but aren’t conjugated in an identical way. The verbs in this family have the same middle vowel pairs for je, tu and il/elle/on conjugations. For example: pouvoir (to be able) as “eu” whereas savoir (to know) has “ai” in the middle.

Making it simple, the je and tu forms are kept the same and only the il/elle/on form change and end with a “t.” It is also worth noticing that the nous and vous forms are much similar to the infinitive.

Pouvoir (To Be Able)

Pouvoir, a common verb, is used along with an infinitive and is an expression of doing something.For example: Je peux chanter (I can sing)

Vouloir (To Want)

Vouloir, a frequent verb is used with another verb or a noun. For instance: elle veut du pain

Savoir (To Know)

Savoir and connaître are often confused, but they both have a different meaning. Savoir indicates knowing a fact, whereas connaître means knowing a person or a place.

Thus, one would say Vous savez que la tour Eiffel est l’une des Sept Merveilles. (You know the Eiffel tower is one of the seven wonders.)

Irregular Verbs in the Mettre Family

This will be simple to learn as the verbs follow the same rule for conjugation. Moreover, the verbs have easy to remember meanings and are much similar to their English counterparts.

Examples:

French verbEnglish meaning
admettreto admit
promettreto promise
permettreto permit
soumettreto submit

Mettre (To Put)

Mettre finds its use in several expressions. For example: in many expressions, such as mettre les draps (to set the sheets).

The pattern is followed by all the verbs in this family.

Irregular Verbs in the Prendre Family

The prendre (to take) family is also conjugated in the same manner. However, the only change is that the letter “d” is used only in the singular forms, whereas for plurals, it is replaced with an extra “n.” Some examples: apprendre (to learn), comprendre (to understand) and surprendre (to surprise).

Again, you can follow the same conjugation patterns for all the verbs mentioned above.

Irregular Verbs in the Venir Family

Easy ones, the verbs in the venir (to come) family have the same rules of conjugation. The only exception is that the nous and vous forms do not have the “ie.”

Some examples include tenir (to hold/to keep), obtenir (to obtain), devenir (to become) and appartenir (to belong).

Irregular Verbs in the Partir Family

These verbs have different spelling from one another, but, when it comes to conjugation, they follow the same rules. The thumb rule is: removing the last three letters of the infinitive (“tir” or “mir”) and adding the appropriate endings. In a singular tense, the conjugations follow a pattern, i.e., “s,” “s,” “t.”

However, when conjugating the plural forms, you will notice that they are much like the regular -er verbs.

Partir (“to leave.”)

For instance: je pars pour le bureau à 8(I leave for office at 8). Some other verbs that belong to the same family are sortir (to exit), mentir (to lie), dormir (to sleep) and sentir (to feel). As we conclude, it won’t be delightful to say that most of the French verbs follow the rules. But, again, there are important ones which do not.

But, if you went through this article diligently, you now know most of the verbs, their rules and use in the French Language. Amazing isn’t it, how easily we learned one of the most complicated elements of French. So, start practicing as the more you practice, the better you learn and the finer you conjugate.

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