French Verbs

  • A verb is a word which represents an action or state. It is a vital part of a sentence.

Verb Conjugation

  • Similar to English, French verbs change according to the person (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they) and tense (past, present, future, etc).
  • For example, the verb ‘manger’ (to eat) in present tense would be:
    1. je mange (I eat)
    2. tu manges (you eat)
    3. il/elle mange (he/she eats)
    4. nous mangeons (we eat)
    5. vous mangez (you eat)
    6. ils/elles mangent (they eat)

Regular Verbs

  • French verbs are categorised into three groups based on their infinitive endings: ‘-er’, ‘-ir’, and ‘-re’. These are known as regular verbs because they follow a regular conjugation pattern.
  • Understanding these patterns is crucial to mastering French grammar.

Irregular Verbs

  • Some verbs do not follow the regular conjugation patterns. They are known as irregular verbs and must be learnt individually.
  • Common irregular verbs include ‘être’ (to be), ‘avoir’ (to have), and ‘aller’ (to go).

Verb Tenses

  • The verb tense indicates when an action or state happens.
  • French verbs use different tenses to express past, present, and future.
  • The most commonly used tenses include: present (‘je mange’ - I eat), imperfect (‘je mangeais’ - I used to eat/I was eating), future (‘je mangerai’ - I will eat), and passé composé (‘j’ai mangé’ - I have eaten/I ate).

Auxiliary Verbs

  • Some tenses require the use of auxiliary verbs. In French, these are generally ‘être’ (to be) and ‘avoir’ (to have).
  • For instance, in the passé composé tense, you use the present tense of an auxiliary verb and the past participle of the main verb.
  • Note that the auxiliary verb ‘être’ is used with verbs of motion and reflexive verbs.

Verb Moods

  • Verb moods convey the speaker’s attitude towards the action of the verb. These include indicative, subjunctive, conditional, and imperative.
  • For example, the imperative mood is used to give orders: ‘Mange ton dîner’ (Eat your dinner).
  • Learning the different verb moods is essential for expressing nuanced meaning in French.