French verbs may seem difficult at first to English speaking people who try to learn French, but it is not as complicated as it appears.
The verb is the most important word in a sentence. It indicates that an action is taking place, has taken place or will take place.
The most fundamental difference between French and English verbs is that French verbs have more endings.
Many French verbs are regular and conform to a particular pattern, however there are also a great number of common irregular verbs which have to be learned separately because they do not comply to any typical verb patterns.
Below are the names given in the French grammar for each of the tenses.
Verb (trouver- to find)
Indicative Indicatif 3rd Person Singular
Present Présent il trouve
Perfect Passé composé il a trouvé
Imperfect Imparfait il trouvait
Future futur il trouvera
Pluperfect Plus-que-parfait il avait trouvé
Future perfect Futur antérieur il aura trouvé
Present Présent il trouverait
First Je (I) Nous (we)
Second Tu (you) Vous (you)
Third (masculine) Il (he) Ils (they)
(feminine) elle (she) elles (they)
Note: The pronoun “tu” is used to address a child, a friend, a relative or a close associate.
The pronoun “vous” is used to address someone you do not know well or someone who is older than you.
“Vous” is also used to address friends or acquaintances if there are two or more of them.
The pronoun “on” means (one, they, we or people)
eg: on prend nos repas à la cantine
eg: en France, on parle Français
“ils” means “they” and refers to male or male/female people, animals or things.
eg: Où sont Paul et Marie? ils jouent dans le jardin.
Simple tenses are made of stems to which endings are attached
Compound tenses are made of the auxiliary verbs (avoir) or (être) plus a past participle
The indicative mood expresses a statement
The conditional mood indicates a wish or a possibility
The conjugation indicates the tense, the mood and the person of the verb.
French verbs are categorized into 4 groups
1) The first group include verbs whose infinitive ends in (er) except (aller – to go).
eg: donner (to give)
eg: regarder (to watch)
eg: parler (to speak)
2) The second group is for verbs whose infinitive ends in (ir) and present participle in (issant)
eg: finir – finissant (to finish – finishing)
eg: choisir – choisissant (to choose – choosing)
eg: remplir - remplissant (to fill – filling)
3) The second group is for verbs whose infinitive ends in (er)
eg: vendre (to sell)
eg: attendre (to wait)
eg: descendre (to go down)
a) In this group there are also the stem-changing verbs. Their root changes depending of the subject pronoun, but the endings are the same as regular verbs.
eg: prendre (to take)
eg: apprendre (to learn)
4) The third group concerns all other verbs
eg: partir (to leave )
eg: ouvrir (to open)
eg; conduire (to drive)
Even irregular verbs have some recognizable patterns
eg: devoir (to have to), recevoir (to receive), apercevoir (to perceive)
eg: craindre (to fear), plaindre (to pity), joindre (to join)
eg: naître (to be born), paraître (to seem), connaître (to know)
But some are completely irregular and have to be memorized
eg: être (to be)
eg: avoir (to have)
eg: allez (to go)