French Irregular Verbs | Lingvist (2023)

Why be regular when you were born to shine?

Irregular verbs are the divas of the grammar world that just won’t play by the rules. Verbs which do not follow the dominant conjugation scheme are extremely common in French (just as they are in English). Irregular verbs like avoir, être, faire, and aller are actually some of the most commonly used verbs, meaning that French learners gain valuable exposure to their inflected forms often and can usually memorize the irregularities quickly. In fact, the high frequency of these irregular verbs is what linguists believe has kept their outdated historic inflection patterns around this long.

The fact that these verbs are unpredictable and require memorization may not be the best news you’ve heard today, but luckily this guide provides a roadmap to understanding a few key things about these tricksters. Check out our tips below to know when to expect the unexpected and how to handle all of this irregularity. You can also sign up for Lingvist’s online French course to practice conjugations online or from the mobile app.

All French verbs end in either -ir, -re, or -er. Each of these verb classes have specific rules governing how they change to express who (“person”) perpetrated the action and when (“tense”) it occurred. French uses one extra person category (vous) that corresponds to addressing “you all / you guys” in English. See our guides on -ir, -re, and -er verbs to see how regular and irregular verbs behave in those classes according to “person” in the present tense.

French Irregular Verbs | Lingvist (1)

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One other note: If the first letter of the next word is a vowel, the je becomes a j’ and is combined with the verb (j’arrive).

French Personal Pronouns

je = Inous = we
tu = youvous = you all / you guys
il/elle/on = you (masc.) / you (fem.) / we (informal)ils/elles = they (masc.) / they (fem.)

When you see an -ir, -re, or -er at the end of a verb, you know it’s in its basic form, the infinitive (infinitif). For regular verbs, you can strip them down to the stem by removing the last two letters and adding the appropriate ending according to the rules for that type of verb. The stem, or radical (from “root” in French: racine), is the part that occurs before the -re, -er, or -ir. In most of the charts below, the stem is underlined and the ending (usually a regular ending) is in bold.

Stem Changes

In French, there is a whole group of irregular verbs which undergo a “stem change” when conjugated. This means certain letters of the stem change depending on the tense or person, usually in a systematic (though irregular to the class of verbs) way. For example, you will often see all forms of a verb except the nous and vous undergo stem changes. For most of these stem-change verbs, you can still add the regular endings to the stem and call it a day. Let’s take a look at a few key examples to get the idea.

Tenir and venir: Conjugating “to hold” and “to come” involves a stem change, with the ten- and ven- changing to tien- and vien- for four out of six of the person categories. There are also many other verbs (which are derivatives of these two verbs) that have the same stem change. A few examples are: contenir, devenir, intervenir, maintenir, obtenir, and souvenir

Ex: tenir –> ten -ir (to hold)

je tiensnous tenons
tu tiensvous tenez
il/elle/on tientils/elles tiennent

Changes to Enable Pronunciation

Certain sounds are phonetically “closer” to pronounce and therefore easier to transition between. Over time, words can transform to become easier to pronounce. One such word is “manger” or “to eat.” In this word, the “g” is pronounced as a “j” (as in “Germany”). Now, imagine trying to pronounce the nous form of this word: “mangons.” The transition is too difficult for your mouth to make fluidly! So in the case of manger and nager (to swim), an e helps smoothly transition into the -ons ending.

Example: manger (to eat)

(Video) Group 3 Irregular French Verbs (Present Tense)

je mangenous mangeons
tu mangesvous mangez
il/elle/on mangeils/elles mangent

Spelling Changes

In a few verbs, certain similar letters are swapped out, but only in particular person cases (most of the time for everything except nous and vous). This list is not exhaustive, but it describes a few of the common spelling change patterns.

Accent flip

One of the most common spelling changes you should be aware of is swapping out e, é, and è in certain forms of common verbs.

Example: inquiéter –> inquié/inquièt -er (to worry)

j’inquiètenous inquiétons
tu inquiètesvous inquiétez
il/elle/on inquièteils/elles inquiètent

Double it up

Some French verbs that end in -eler and -eter double the l or t in all except nous and vous in the present.

Example: appeler –> appel/appell -er (to call)

j’appellenous appelons
tu appellesvous appelez
il/elle/on appelleils/elles appellent

Switch it out:

For verbs that end in an -ayer, -oyer, or -uyer, such as envoyer (to send), the y changes to an i in all cases except – you guessed it – nous and vous.

Example: envoyer –> envoy/envoi -er (to send)

j’envoienous envoyons
tu envoiesvous envoyez
il/elle/on envoieils/elles envoient

Even stranger? Within this group, for the verbs that end in -ayer, the stem change is optional, meaning either is correct.

Example: essayer –> essay/essai -er (to try)

(Video) Irregular French Verbs: Present Tense Conjugations

j’essaye/j’essaienous essayons
tu essayes/essaiesvous essayez
il/elle/on essaye/essaieils/elles essayent/essaient

Irregular in Multiple Tenses

Some verbs completely transform to a practically unrecognizable form. You may wonder how in the world these verbs come from one original, just like the surprising variety of inflected English forms of “to be” (am/are/is). Often, the only verbs that resemble the infinitive are the first and second person plural nous and vous forms. See the four most common irregular verb conjugations below to discover what surprises they hold! Note that we have just included a few examples of tenses in which they are exceptionally irregular.

Verbs Which Are Irregular in the Present, Simple Future (and Sometimes Past Participle)

As you may have guessed, the present tense is used to talk about things occurring presently, or actions that someone is in the process of completing. The simple future tense is used to describe events that are likely to happen in the future, like an intention or a supposition. This conveys less certainty than the Futur Proche (“close” future), which implies that you are going to do something right away.

Several verbs are irregular in the present and also undergo a specific stem change for the simple future which resemble each other (ir-, aur-, ser-, fer-). Aside from the stem change, these verbs have regular endings in the simple future. If you know Latin, you’ll recognize a few of these new stems in the following examples. In these charts, the stem is only underlined if it is a regular conjugation.

Aller

The present tense of aller is also used in combination with another verb (just like English) to form the Futur Proche (“close” future) tense.

Je vais manger un croissant.

(I am going to eat a croissant.)

Present tense: aller (to go)

je vaisnous allons
tu vasvous allez
il/elle/on vails/elles vont

Past participle (not irregular): allé

Simple future: aller (to go), stem: ir-

je irainous irons
tu iravous irez
il/elle/on ironsils/elles iront

When describing events that were completed or had a specified ending time in the past, the composite form past perfect (passé composé) is used. To form this, you combine the auxiliary (or “helping”) verb être or avoir in present tense with the past participle (participe passé). This very closely resembles English, such as the sentence “I have eaten the croissant.” Most past participles are formed by adding an , -i, or -u to the stem of the verb. The common verbs found below also have irregular past participles.

(Video) Practise Your French Group 3 Irregular Verbs - PRÉSENT

Être

Present tense: être (to be)

je suisnous sommes
tu esvous êtes
il/elle/on estils/elles sont

Past participle: été

Simple future: être (to be), stem: ser-

je serainous serons
tu seravous serez
il/elle/on seronsils/elles seront

Avoir

Present tense: avoir (to have)

j’ainous avons
tu asvous avez
il/elle/on ails/elles ont

Past participle: eu

Simple future: avoir (to have), stem: aur-

je aurainous aurons
tu auravous aurez
il/elle/on auronsils/elles auront

Faire

Present tense: faire (to do/make)

je faisnous faisons
tu faisvous faites
il/elle/on faitils/elles font

Past participle: fait

Simple future tense: faire (to do/make), stem: fer-

je ferainous ferons
tu ferasvous ferez
il/elle/on feronsils/elles feront

Memorize with Flash-Charts

Looking for a way to work French conjugation memorization into your daily routine?

(Video) Irregular IR French Verbs - How to conjugate Irregular IR Verbs present tense

Write out conjugation charts on separate pieces of paper and alternate covering them with tape or sticky notes to quiz yourself like flashcards. Try putting one verb conjugation chart per week in a place that you habitually spend some time, like on your kitchen cabinets or your bathroom mirror, so that you can look it over while washing dishes or brushing your teeth. Halfway through the week, try covering up the conjugated forms with tape or a sticky note so you can quiz yourself.

French Irregular Verbs | Lingvist (2)

If all these new words seem overwhelming to memorize on your own, sign up for Lingvist’s online French course today to discover fun exercises for learning conjugations and practicing pronunciation! You can also use this appendix of irregular verbs on Wikipedia for reference. Before you know it, the conjugations will become natural and you’ll find yourself forgetting that they’re irregular in the first place.

FAQs

What are the 17 irregular verbs in French? ›

Common Irregular French Verbs
  • Je vais. Tu vas. Il/Elle va. Nous allons. ...
  • J'ai. Tu as. Il/Elle a. Nous avons. ...
  • Je dis. Tu dis. Il/Elle dit. Nous disons. ...
  • Je suis. Tu es. Il/Elle est. Nous sommes. ...
  • Je fais. Tu fais. Il/Elle fait. Nous faisons. ...
  • Je peux. Tu peux. Il/Elle peut. Nous pouvons. ...
  • Je sais. Tu sais. Il/Elle sait. ...
  • Je vois. Tu vois. Il/Elle voit.

How many irregular verbs are there in French total? ›

There are approximately 350 irregular verbs that do not conjugate in either the first or second conjugation. For simplicity, these highly varying verbs have been traditionally “lumped” into a third group.

What are the 300 irregular verbs? ›

Irregular Verbs List – Infographic 1
Bare FormPast SimplePast Participle
lielaylain
arisearosearisen
shineshoneshone
spillspilt /spilledspilt /spilled
68 more rows

What are the 20 verbs in French? ›

Lesson Transcript
  • être, to be. To be or not to be Être ou ne pas être. ...
  • avoir, to have. Don't forget that verbs in French are conjugated. ...
  • faire, to do. ...
  • dire, to say. ...
  • pouvoir, can. ...
  • aller, to go. ...
  • Voir, to see. ...
  • vouloir, to want.

What are the 40 irregular verbs? ›

In this section, you will learn over 40 irregular verbs.
...
Form of other irregular verbs.
Base formPast formPast participle
bringbroughtbrought
buyboughtbought
choosechosechosen
comecamecome
38 more rows
Oct 6, 2018

How do you memorize French verbs? ›

French Verb Conjugation Tips
  1. Always memorize your french verbs with the subject pronoun that goes along with them. ...
  2. Create a spreadsheet for your verbs. ...
  3. Write everything down. ...
  4. Try changing up the order of the verbs when you memorize them. ...
  5. Record yourself saying your conjugations. ...
  6. Work with a friend!
Aug 11, 2020

What are the only 3 irregular verbs? ›

The verbs ir (to go), ver (to see), and ser (to be) are completely irregular in the imperfect tense.

What are the most common irregular French verbs? ›

The most used irregular verbs in French
  • être - to be.
  • aller - to go.
  • avoir - to have.
  • faire - to make, to do.

Does English have a lot of irregular verbs? ›

The English language has many irregular verbs, approaching 200 in normal use—and significantly more if prefixed forms are counted. In most cases, the irregularity concerns the past tense (also called preterite) or the past participle.

Is there a rule for irregular verbs? ›

Regular verbs follow the standard grammar rules of modern English in adding “-ed” or “-d” to form the past tense and past participle forms. Irregular verbs, however, use completely original words for their different verb forms when they're the main verb of a sentence.

What is the most common irregular verb? ›

The verb to be is the most irregular verb in the English language. It is irregular in all forms of the present and past tenses, and it has an irregular past participle.

What are the super 7 verbs in French? ›

The Super 7™ Verbs by Terry Waltz in French
  • C'est / elle est / il est.
  • Il y a.
  • Elle a / Il a.
  • Elle veut / Il veut.
  • Elle va / Il va.
  • Elle peut / Il peut.
  • Elle aime / Il aime.
Apr 22, 2022

What are the big 4 verbs in French? ›

Big 4 French verbs
  • etre = to be.
  • avoir = to have.
  • aller = to go.
  • faire = to do.

How to learn French easily? ›

10 tips to learn French fast
  1. Watch films. Watching films in French with French subtitles is one of the best ways to learn. ...
  2. Learn with songs. ...
  3. Read. ...
  4. Find a partner. ...
  5. Don't be scared to try and make mistakes. ...
  6. Listen! ...
  7. Practice. ...
  8. Sign up for an intensive course.
Aug 12, 2016

What are the 200 irregular verbs list? ›

200 Most Common Irregular Verbs + Gerunds
BASE FORMPAST PARTICIPLE
1AbideAbode/Abided/Abidden
2AlightAlit/Alighted
3AriseArisen
4AwakeAwoken
93 more rows
Apr 3, 2013

How many irregular verbs are there PDF? ›

There are more than 200 irregular verbs in English.

What are the 4 types of irregular verbs? ›

Four categories of irregular verbs
  • Irregular verbs with the same base form, past tense and past participle.
  • Irregular verbs with the same base form and past participle.
  • Irregular verbs with the same past tense and past participle.
  • Irregular verbs with a different base form, past tense and past participle.
Nov 10, 2022

What are the 150 irregular verbs? ›

List of Irregular Verbs, +150 Irregular Vers, V1 V2 V3
V1 – PresentV2 – Past SimpleV3 – Past Participle
bleedbledbled
blowblewblown
breakbrokebroken
breedbredbred
26 more rows

How to memorize irregular verbs? ›

The 8 Top Tricks for Remembering Irregular English Verbs
  1. Group common irregular verbs together. ...
  2. Learn all new vocabulary with its tense forms. ...
  3. Memorize the 10 most common irregular verbs first. ...
  4. Turn memorizing into a game. ...
  5. Learn in sentences. ...
  6. Learn with songs. ...
  7. Leave lists where you can see them. ...
  8. Ask people to correct you.
Feb 27, 2020

Which are the top 10 most used irregular verbs? ›

The top 10 irregular verbs in English are: see, say, go, come, know, get, give, become, find, and think.

Why are French verbs so hard? ›

The sequence of tenses is more complex due to the sheer number present in the French language. There are around 200 common irregular verbs in English, and regular verbs always conjugate in the same way. French has many more irregular verbs, and conjugation can be very difficult to memorize.

What is the most difficult part of learning French? ›

Prickly Pronunciation

Without a doubt, the hardest part of learning French is the pronunciation. Written French and spoken French seem worlds apart at first, since there are a number of rules that dictate when certain letters are not pronounced, or words are suddenly squashed together.

How many words must you know to be fluent in French? ›

It is estimated that you have to learn 5000 words to be fluent in French. Be selective and learn the 5000 most used words in French! Think about it. Some words are more valuable than others.

What are the 20 examples of irregular verb? ›

Irregular Verbs List
V1 Base FormV2 Past SimpleV3 Past Participle
drivedrovedriven
drinkdrankdrunk
eatateeaten
fallfellfallen
89 more rows

What are the 3 imperfect verbs? ›

The verbs ser (to be), ir (to go), and ver (to see) are completely irregular in the imperfect tense.

What are the 25 irregular verbs? ›

Top 25 irregular verbs
Present SimplePast SimplePast Participle
taketooktaken
telltoldtold
thinkthoughtthought
writewrotewritten
21 more rows

How many French verbs exist? ›

There are about 370 verbs in this group, though a much smaller number are still in frequent use.

What language has no irregular verbs? ›

The artificial language Esperanto has no irregular verbs. It was first published by its inventor Dr Ludwig Zamenhof (1859-1917) of Warsaw, Poland in 1887, and is now estimated (by textbook sales) to have 1 million speakers.

How many irregular verbs are in Japanese? ›

There are two irregular verbs in total in the Japanese language. They mean "to come" (Kuru) and "to do" (Suru). Since their Conjugation is irregular, It will simply be listed below. Imperative/Conditional: koi, shiro [seyo] (come here!

Does Spanish have many irregular verbs? ›

Spanish has over 250 irregular verbs. While this may sound like a lot, don't worry, there are lots of patterns that will help you memorize a majority of these irregular verbs.

Is cry a regular or irregular verb? ›

There are four identifying traits of an irregular verb. Some irregular past tense verbs have the same base form, past tense form, and past participle form.
...
Charts for Irregular and Regular Verbs.
Base FormPast Tense Forms
crycried
trytried
fitfitted
triptripped
4 more rows
Mar 5, 2019

Do you have to memorize irregular verbs? ›

Irregular verbs, for instance, are rule-breakers. They don't follow the standard rules for making them past tense. While you can learn a few patterns, eventually you'll need to work on memorizing each form.

What are the 3 rules of regular verbs? ›

These rules are:
  • To form the past tense of a verb, add -ed to the end of the root form of the verb. ...
  • If the verb ends in -e, just add a -d to the end of the root form. ...
  • If the verb ends in -y, we turn the -y into an -i and add -ed. ...
  • If a one-syllable verb ends in consonant-vowel-consonant, we double the final consonant.
Jun 8, 2021

What are 50 irregular verbs? ›

List of TOP 50 irregular verbs:
InfinitiveSimple PastPast Participle
drinkdrank [dræŋk]drunk [drʌŋk]
eatate [eɪt]eaten [i:tn]
feelfelt [felt]felt [felt]
fightfought [fɔːt]fought [fɔːt]
46 more rows
Dec 26, 2020

What are the 11 irregular verbs? ›

There are only eleven irregular verbs in Modern Irish: abair, beir, bí, clois, déan, ith, faigh, feic, tabhair, tar, téigh.

What are the 24 special verbs? ›

24 Auxiliary Verbs List With Examples #7
  • I must go.
  • Go I must.
  • He must have gone.
  • He must be a liar.
  • You must do this.
  • You must not tell a lie.
  • You must be a rich man.
  • You must have been absent.
Nov 7, 2022

What are the 5 tenses in French? ›

Five past forms, which are imparfait (imperfect), passé composé (compound past), passé simple (simple past), plus-que-parfait (pluperfect) and passé antérieur (anterior past). Two future forms, which are futur (future) and futur antérieur (future anterior).

What are the 8 tenses in French? ›

There are 8 different verb tenses in the indicative mood: présent (present), imparfait (imperfect), passé simple (simple past), futur simple (simple future), passé composé (perfect), plus-que-parfait (pluperfect), passé antérieur (past anterior), and futur antérieur (future anterior).

What is the most used French tense? ›

Present Tense – le présent de l'indicatif

This is the verb tense that you'll use most of the time when you're speaking French.

What are the 3 verb endings in French? ›

There are three endings that indicate a verb:
  • “-er” infinitive ending– the most common type of verb, and they have a regular conjugation.
  • “-ir” infinitive ending.
  • “-re” infinitive ending.

How fast can you realistically learn French? ›

French is a Category I language, so it's relatively easy to learn for native English speakers. It will take approximately 580 hours or 23 weeks of study to reach complete French fluency. Which we could break down as the following: If you study for 1 hour every day, you can learn French in 1.5 years.

Can I learn French in 30 days? ›

The reality is that there's a lot of material you'll need to cover to learn French in 30 days. However, don't be overwhelmed. Take it day-by-day, and re-adjust your learning plan every so often if you have to.

Can I learn French in 3 months? ›

While you certainly won't master it in three months, especially if you can only put a few hours a week into it, you can make sure to be more efficient by following an initial plan of action. Let's take a look at what you should do in the first hour, first day, first week and first month of learning French.

What are the main irregular French verbs? ›

The most used irregular verbs in French
  • être - to be.
  • aller - to go.
  • avoir - to have.
  • faire - to make, to do.

What are the 50 irregular verbs? ›

List of TOP 50 irregular verbs:
InfinitiveSimple PastPast Participle
drinkdrank [dræŋk]drunk [drʌŋk]
eatate [eɪt]eaten [i:tn]
feelfelt [felt]felt [felt]
fightfought [fɔːt]fought [fɔːt]
46 more rows
Dec 26, 2020

What are the 10 irregular verbs commonly used? ›

The top 10 irregular verbs in English are: see, say, go, come, know, get, give, become, find, and think.

What are the 200 irregular verbs? ›

200 Most Common Irregular Verbs + Gerunds
BASE FORMPAST PARTICIPLE
1AbideAbode/Abided/Abidden
2AlightAlit/Alighted
3AriseArisen
4AwakeAwoken
93 more rows
Apr 3, 2013

Is gone an irregular word? ›

Past Participle of “Go”: “Gone”

While regular verbs have a predictable pattern (adding –ed or –d), irregular verbs do not. A past participle is used in all perfect tenses. The past participle of go is gone. Jemma had gone to the mall.

Videos

1. Irregular Verbs in French Past Tense explained, FREE e-book and more!
(Learn French With Alexa)
2. How to Conjugate Irregular Verbs in French // French conjugation Course // Lesson 15.2
(The perfect French with Dylane)
3. Basic Irregular Verbs in French
(Study with Alena)
4. Group 3 Irregular French Verbs (Future Tense)
(Learn French With Alexa)
5. Irregular french verbs in Futur tense #learnfrench
(French Circles Grammar)
6. Irregular IR Verbs // Present tense // French conjugation course // Lesson 15.1
(The perfect French with Dylane)
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