French -ER Verbs: Simple Guide with Regular and Irregular Conjugation

In French, verbs that end in -er are by far the most common, making up around 90% of all verbs in the language. It’s easy to see why knowing how to conjugate them is a must-have skill!

To that end, here’s your full guide to French –er verbs, including conjugation tables, simple explanations, and tips on how to spot irregular verbs. 


What Are French -er Verbs?

French -er verbs—meaning, verbs that end in -er—are by far the most common type of verb in the language. There are more than a thousand of them! 

Their number continues to grow as well: As the language changes over time and more neologisms and anglicisms find their way into French, they always take the form of –er verbs.

Indeed, as French learners, they are usually the first verbs we deal with before moving on to regular –ir and -re verbs. It’s safe to say that regular –er verbs are the bread and butter of French verbs.

Common -er verbs in French

I know what you’re thinking: “Let’s see some verbs, already!”

Here’s a list of common –er verbs:

-ER VerbMeaning
Parler to talk
Aimer to like, to love
Changer to change
Demander to ask
Écouter to listen
Fabriquer to make
Jouer to play
Habiter to live
Manger to eat
Rester to stay, to remain
Signer to sign
Trouver to find
Visiter to visit a place
Aller [irregular]to go
Brosser to brush
Donner to give
Gagner to win, to earn
Marcher to walk, to function
Penser to think
Visiter to travel
Travailler to work

Conjugating Regular -er Verbs

When conjugating -er verbs in French, you usually take off the -er and replace it with a different ending (with the exception of the conditional mood, which follows a different system).

With regular verbs, these endings follow a pattern—they stay the same for each person. Here’s an example conjugation chart with the verb manger (to eat), with the new verb endings in bold:

Verb formMeaning
Je mange I eat
Tu manges you eat
Il mange / Elle mange  he/she eats
Nous mangeons we eat
Vous mangez you eat (formal), you all eat
Ils mangent / Elles mangent they eat

Now, let’s take a look at the different conjugation patterns of the present tenses of the indicative, the conditional, the subjunctive and the imperative, as well as the imperfect past tense. They’re each built around a stem.

L’indicatif (indicative)

The French present tense is used to express habitual actions, current actions and situations, statements of generally-accepted knowledge and actions that will immediately occur.

Verb formMeaning
J'aime courir I like to run.
Tu aimes courir  You like to run. (informal)
Il/elle aime He/she likes to run.
Nous aimons courir We like to run.
Vous aimez courir You (formal)/you all like to run.
Ils/elles aiment courir They like to run.

Conditionnel (conditional)

The conditional mood is used to refer to hypothetical events as well as to make polite requests. The verb aimer (to like, to love), is especially apt for polite requests. The conditional stem for regular –er verbs is the same as its infinitive.

Verb formMeaning
J'aimerais partir. I would like to leave.
Tu aimerais partir. You would like to leave.
Il/elle aimerait partir.  He/she would like to leave.
Nous aimerions partir. We would like to leave.
Vous aimeriez partir. You (formal), you all would like to leave.
Ils aimeraient partir. They would like to leave.

Subjonctif (subjunctive)

The subjunctive mood conveys actions or ideas that are uncertain or subjective such as doubt, judgment and necessity. The stem for conjugating the subjunctive form of aimer (to like, to love) is aim-.

Verb formMeaning
Il suppose que j'aime la ville. He supposes that I like the city.
Il suppose que tu aimes la ville. He supposes that you like the city.
Il suppose qu'elle aime la ville. He supposes that she likes the city.
Il suppose que nous aimions la ville. He supposes that we like the city.
Il suppose que vous aimiez la ville. He supposes that you (formal)/you all like the city.
Il suppose que elles aiment la ville. He supposes that they like the city.

L’imperatif (imperative)

The French imperative is used to give commands. We only conjugate it in the tu, nous and vous forms.

Verb formMeaning
Aime ta planète.  Love your planet.
Aimons notre planète. Love our planet.
Aimez votre planète. Love your planet. (formal)

Imparfait (imperfect)

The imperfect is a past tense used to describe an ongoing state, repeated or incomplete action.

Across the board for –er, -ir and –re verbs, the imperfect stem is formed by dropping the -ons ending from the present indicative nous (we) form. The nous form of aimer is aimons, so the stem is aim. Let’s take a look at the endings now:

Verb formMeaning
J'aimais courir . I liked to run.
Tu aimais courir. You liked to run.
Il aimait courir. He liked to run.
Nous aimions courir. We liked to run.
Vous aimiez courir. You (formal)/you all liked to run.
Ils aimaient courir. They liked to run.

Irregular French -er Verbs

Aller (to go) is the only truly irregular verb in the French language, but there are some other stem-changing and spelling change verbs that could also be put into this category. 


The verb aller  (to go) has a completely irregular conjugation that doesn’t follow any predictable pattern. See for yourself:

J'ai I go
Tu as you go
Il a / Elle a he/she goes
Nous avons we go
Vous avez you go
Ils ont / Elles ont  they go

Spelling change verbs

Spelling change verbs always end in –cer or –ger, so they’re easy to spot. They are conjugated in much the same way as regular -er verbs, but with occasional spelling changes. The spelling changes, which only occur in a few conjugations, are done to maintain proper pronunciation.

Here are a few examples of –cer and –ger verbs: 

Stem-changing verbs

Stem-changing verbs take the regular endings, but their stems change spelling, with two different versions of each one depending on the grammatical person. You can recognize them by their endings: –yer-eler-eter-e_er, or -é_er

Here are some examples of this type of verb:

Check out this article for more information on irregular French verbs: 

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Well now you have it. The complete guide to French –er verbs.

Now get out there and conjugate some verbs!

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