Come to the sunny side.
Trust me, you’re going to like it over here.
Oh yes, not only do us lucky French learners get to bask in the light of Zaz’s deep jazzy vocals and enjoy freshly baked croissants, but we’re also treated to the regular half of French’s -re verbs, which don’t give us any surprises.
These are the verbs you can count on to “defend” you, to “wait for” you and to always “answer” when called.
They’re practically as friendly as a blooming sunflower field! So let’s dig into regular -re verbs, so you can start using these faithful French action words today.
The Essential Guide to French’s Regular -re Verbs
What Are Regular -re French Verbs?
As I’m sure you know, there are two main types of verbs in French: regular and irregular verbs. Firstly, regular verbs are predictable and follow set patterns depending on their endings. This means that all regular verbs that end the same way follow the same conjugation pattern and behave the same way when paired with a subject.
On the other hand, irregular verbs are not predictable and do not follow a set pattern. That means that their forms have to be specially memorized; they’re dancing to their own tune anyway.
But today, let’s focus on regular verbs—one group of regular verbs in particular. In French, we say that there are three “groups” of regular verbs based on the ending of the infinitive (unconjugated) verb.
- The first group of regular verbs includes verbs that end in –er such as parler (to speak) or chanter (to sing).
- The second group includes verbs that end in –ir such as finir (to finish) or grandir (to grow).
- The third group, the sunny one we’ll look at in this blog post, contains verbs ending in –re.
Now, the third group behaves a little differently than the -er or the -ir group. This third group not only includes regular verbs that end in -re, but it also includes all the irregular verbs in the French language. (Talk about sharing the limelight, right?!)
But don’t sulk yet, -re verbs, we’re going to ignore the irregulars today. This post will only focus on regular, third group verbs that end in -re. See? Nothing but sun, gorgeous sun.
Resources for Practicing Regular -re French Verbs
Once you’ve finished learning all about this group of regulars, come back here to reinforce your knowledge.
You can practice regular -re verbs online at:
- About French: Use this quiz to conjugate two regular -re verbs in the full to make sure you’ve got those endings down pat.
- Lawless French: Review with this handy guide, and then take the quick quiz in the orange box below the post to see how well you’ve understood the group.
- The University of Texas: This quiz tests your ability to conjugate regular -re verbs in a variety of full sentences. When you’re done, use the site’s verb practice program to conjugate -re verbs in all tenses.
- The University of Regina: Fill in the blanks with regular -re verbs to test your mastery of third group verbs.
How to Conjugate Regular French -re Verbs
Before I take you through regular -re verb conjugations, I have a confession to make: Not all verbs that end in -re are regular. I know, I know… But French is the language of exceptions, right?
Keep an eye out for irregular -re verbs. Some of them include prendre (to take), comprendre (to understand), mettre (to put), vivre (to live) and être (to be).
But now, the main attraction: regular -re verbs. To start, let me introduce two verbs that will be guiding us through our joyful conjugations. Without further ado, we have vendre (to sell) and descendre (to descend).
Check out the conjugation of our two verbs to see what endings get added to regular -re verbs in the present tense. First, you need to drop the -re ending to get your verb stem: vend-
It’s to this stem that we add the various endings. In essence, there are only four endings:
- The je and tu forms take -s.
- The nous form takes -ons.
- The vous form takes -ez
- The ils and elles form takes -ent.
Note, however, that regular -re verbs in the present tense do not take an ending with il/elle/on.
Je vends ma voiture.
(I’m selling my car.)
Il descend l’escalier pour chercher les clés.
(He goes down the stairs to look for the keys.)
As I’m sure you know, creating the past tense in French is a two-step process. First, we need to determine which helper goes with our main verb and then conjugate that verb with the subject. Most verbs take avoir as a helper verb, but a select group of verbs called “Dr. Mrs. Vandertramp” verbs take être.
Secondly, we have to conjugate our main verb into the past participle. If the verb ends in -er like parler (to speak), we drop the -er and add an -é to get parlé. If the verb ends in -ir like finir (to finish), we drop the -ir and add an -i to get fini. If the verb ends in -re like vendre, we drop the -re and add a -u to get vendu.
Now, let’s see these verbs in their past tense glory. Note: Descendre is a verb that usually takes être as its helper verb, unlike vendre, which takes avoir.
Tu as vendu
Il/elle a vendu
Nous avons vendu
Vous avez vendu
Ils/elles ont vendu
Je suis descendu
Tu es descendu
Il/elle/on est descendu(e)
Nous sommes descendu(e)s
Vous êtes descendu(e)(s)
Ils/elles sont descendu(e)s
J’ai vendu ma vache.
(I sold my cow.)
Il/elle est descendu(e) avec une grosse valise.
(He/she came down with a big suitcase.)
Nous n’avons jamais vendu notre vache.
(We never sold our cow.)
Ils/elles ne sont pas descendu(e)s de la montagne.
(They didn’t descend from the mountain.)
While we’re not going to talk about the differences between passé composé and imparfait in this post, it’s good to note that the stem of regular -re verbs is obtained by removing -ons from the present tense nous conjugation. Then, add the imparfait endings. Check it out!
Present tense nous: vendons
Present tense nous: descendons
Je vendais des livres en ligne.
(I used to sell books online.)
Il/elle descendait la colline quand il/elle a vu ma vache!
(He/she was descending the hill when he/she saw my cow!)
Nous vendions des vaches à nos voisins.
(We used to sell cows to our neighbors.)
Like the imparfait, the regular -re verbs in the futur simple take the same endings that other verbs do. However, note that while most other verbs do not drop any letters from their infinitive (unconjugated) forms before adding their endings, regular -re verbs do. They drop their final -e before adding futur simple endings.
Je vendrai cent vaches avant la fin de l’année.
(I will sell 100 cows before the end of the year.)
Ils/elles descendront l’escalier avant la fête.
(They will descend the stairs before the party.)
9 Common Regular -re French Verbs
Whew! That’s a lot to take in. But, it wasn’t too complicated, right? Kind of felt like we were breezing through a field of sunflowers, right?
Now, we’ve already listed vendre and descendre as regular -re verbs, but check out these additional nine common regular -re verbs conjugated in the present tense:
Attendre (to wait for)
J’attends le garçon qui porte la chemise bleue.
(I’m waiting for the boy wearing the blue shirt.)
Défendre (to defend)
Il défend les droits de tous les êtres humains.
(He defends the rights of all humans.)
Entendre (to hear)
Nous entendons un oiseau.
(We hear a bird.)
Fondre (to melt)
Tu fonds le fromage pour le repas.
(You melt the cheese for the meal.)
Pendre (to hang)
Vous pendez votre manteau au cintre.
(You hang your coat on the hanger.)
Perdre (to lose)
Tu perds toujours tes chaussures !
(You always lose your shoes!)
Prétendre (to claim)
Elles prétendent avoir vu l’homme au restaurant.
(They claim to have seen the man at the restaurant.)
Rendre (to return)
Elle rend les livres à la bibliothèque.
(She returns the books to the library.)
Répondre (to answer)
Ils répondent aux questions.
(They respond to the questions.)
And there you have it! See, regular -re verbs are easy as 1-2-3!