Your Complete Guide to French Verb Conjugation

Conjugating verbs in French means to change the ending based on the verb’s subject, tense or mood—and learning how to do this is a cornerstone of speaking French. 

Whether you’ve been daydreaming about chatting with a waiter at a chic Parisian bistro or traveling through Marrakech, you’ll need to learn French conjugation to reach your goals.

In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of French verb conjugation to help kickstart your fluency. 

Let’s get into it!


What Is French Verb Conjugation?

Conjugation means to change a verb in a way that reflects different meanings—either in terms of its subject, tense or mood.

The usual way of conjugating verbs in French is to remove the ending of the infinitive form and add a new ending.

The endings are determined by:

  • Who is performing the action
  • Which tense and mood you are using

The pattern for how conjugation works depends on the specific verb ending, though it can vary with irregular verbs.

We’ll cover these verb endings in the next section before moving on to conjugation rules for different tenses and moods.

Three French Verb Types

In their infinitive form, French verbs fall into three categories based on their endings:

Group one: Verbs ending in -er

Group two: Verbs ending in -ir

Group three: All other verbs (verbs that don’t end in -er or -ir, irregular verbs, and verbs which actually do end in -ir but have a present participle that doesn’t end in -issant)

Each of these verb categories has its own conjugation rules, which you’ll see later in the post.

Verbs that have the -er ending (group one) are by far the most useful regular verbs in the French language—that is because some 90% of all French verbs have this ending! So, if you master this group of verbs and the associated tenses, you should be well on your way to French verb mastery.

Present Tense French Conjugation

First, let’s focus on the present tense. Just like in English, the French present tense is used to describe actions that are currently happening, actions that happen repeatedly or general truths.

In the present tense, each French verb has two parts: a pronoun, and a conjugated verb.

The French pronouns are as follows:

  • Je — I
  • Tu — You (informal)
  • Il — He
  • Elle — She
  • On — One / we 
  • Nous — We
  • Vous — You (formal) / You all
  • Ils —  They (male groups or mixed gender)
  • Elles — They (female groups)

Note that the pronoun on can be used to mean “we” for speaking generally or in the passive voice. 

Let’s look at examples of conjugation of regular verbs for each verb type, putting together the pronoun and its matching conjugation. I’ve gone ahead and underlined the verb endings: these are the same ending used for all regular verbs.

We’ll take a look at the -er verb cacher (to hide), the -ir verb finir (to finish) and the -re verb (from the third group) prendre (to take).

Their conjugation in present tense is as follows:

Cacher (to hide)Finir (to finish)Prendre (to take)
Je cache
(I hide)
Je finis
(I finish)
Je prends
(I take)
Tu caches
(You hide)
Tu finis
(You finish)
Tu prends
(You take)
Il/elle/on cache
(He/she/it/one hides)
Il/elle/on finit 
(He/she/it/one finishes)
Il/elle/on prend
(He/she/it/one takes)
Nous cachons
(We hide)
Nous finissons 
(We finish)
Nous prenons
(We take)
Vous cachez 
(You [polite] / You all hide)
Vous finissez 
(You [polite] / You all finish)
Vous prenez
(You [polite] / You all take)
Ils/elles cachent
(They hide)
Ils/elles finissent 
(They finish)
Ils/elles prennent
(They take)

Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense

French grammar has a lot of exceptions, and this applies to conjugations as well.

Lots of the most important verbs in French are irregular, including: être (to be), avoir (to have), aller (to go), and faire (to do).

They’re conjugated as follows:

Être (to be)Avoir (to have)Aller (to go)Faire (to do/make)
Je suis
(I am)
(I have)
Je vais
(I go)
Je fais
(I do/make)
Tu es
(You are)
Tu as
(You have)
Tu vas
(You go)
Tu fais
(You do/make)
Il/elle/on est
(He/she/it/one is)
Il/elle/on a
(He/she/it/one has)
Il/elle/on va
(He/she/it/one goes)
Il/elle/on fait
(He/she/it/one does/makes)
Nous sommes
(We are)
Nous avons
(We have)
Nous allons
(We go)
Nous faisons
(We do/make)
Vous êtes
(You [polite] / You all are)
Vous avez
(You [polite] / You all have)
Vous allez
(You [polite] / You all go)
Vous faites
(You [polite] / You all do/make)
Ils/elles sont
(They are)
Ils/elles ont
(They have)
Ils/elles vont
(They go)
Ils/elles font
(They do/make)

Past French Conjugation

Passé Composé Tense

The passé composé is one of three French past tenses. 

It’s used for events that happened completely in the past, with a defined start and end date, and events that began in the past but continue into the present.

To conjugate in the passé composé, we use this formula:

pronoun + auxiliary verb (avoir or être) in the present tense + past participle

Note that when using avoir (to have) and être (to be) in the past tense as auxiliary verbs, they do not mean “to have” and “to be.” Think of them as more like placeholders in this case.

In the passé composé, cacher uses the auxiliary verb avoir and the verb venir (to come) uses the auxiliary verb être.

They are conjugated as follows:

Cacher (to hide)Venir (to come)
J'ai caché 
(I hid / have hidden)
Je suis venu(e)
(I came / have come)
Tu as caché 
(You hid / have hidden)
Tu es venu(e)
(You came / have come)
Il/elle/on a caché 
(He/she/it/one hid / has hidden)
Il/elle est venu(e)
(He/she/it/one came / has come)
Nous avons caché 
(We hid / have hidden)
Nous sommes venus(/es)
(We came / have come)
Vous avez caché 
(You [polite] / You all hid / have hidden)
Vous êtes venu/venue/venus/venues
(You [polite] / You all came / have come)
Ils/elles ont caché 
(They hid / have hidden)
Ils/elles sont venus(/es)
(They came / have come)

As you can see, each of these verbs uses the present-tense conjugation of avoir and être as auxiliary verbs. 

Why so many parentheses? When you use être as the auxiliary verb, you must change the past participle to agree in gender and number with the pronoun.

You might be wondering: When do you use one auxiliary verb or the other?

In part, you have to memorize which verb’s past tense uses avoir and which uses être. Don’t worry, though—there aren’t too many être verbs (in fact, here’s a list of all of them).

An easy way to start memorizing them is to remember that most of them involve some sort of movement, such as the above example, venir (to come). 

Imparfait Tense

The imparfait is used to express events that happened continuously in the past.

For example, you would use this tense to talk about something that you habitually did during your childhood but that you no longer do.

Some learners may find this conjugation easier because it doesn’t involve any auxiliary verbs!

The -re verb prendre conjugated in the imparfait looks like this:

PrendreTo take
Je prenaisI took
Tu prenaisYou took
Il/elle/on prenaitHe/she/it/one took
Nous prenionsWe took
Vous preniezYou [polite] / You all took
Ils/elles prenaientThey took

These endings are the same for -re, -er and -ir regular verbs. 

Plus-que-parfait Tense

Finally, the plus-que-parfait describes events that happened completely in the past, that happened before other events in the past.

Think of the sentence: “I had fallen asleep before she arrived.”

Because both events (the falling asleep and the arriving) happened in the past, but the falling asleep happened first, you would conjugate this verb using the plus-que-parfait.

Get ready, because we’re about to combine the previous two tenses you just learned to create something beautiful:

To conjugate the plus-que-parfait, use the same formula as the passé composé (pronoun + auxiliary verb + past participle), but conjugate the auxiliary verb in the imparfait tense.

Let’s go back to our friends cacher and venir to see how this tense compares to the passé composé.

Cacher (to hide)Venir (to come)
J'avais caché
(I had hidden)
J'étais venu(e)
(I had come)
Tu avais caché
(You had hidden)
Tu étais venu(e)
(You had come)
Il/elle/on avait caché
(He/she/it/one had hidden)
Il/elle/on était venu(e)
(He/she/it/ one had come)
Nous avions caché
(We had hidden)
Nous étions venus(/es)
(We had come)
Vous aviez caché
(You [polite] / You all had hidden)
Vous étiez venu/venue/venus/venues
(You [polite] / You all had come)
Ils/elles avaient caché
(They had hidden)
Ils/elles étaient venus(/es)
(They had come)

As you can see, the past participles remain exactly the same, and the only thing that changes is the conjugation of the auxiliary verb.

Future French Conjugation

Futur Simple Tense

We’re heading into the future! The futur simple allows you to express actions that will happen in the future with almost definite certainty.

With -er and -ir verbs, you just add the endings to the infinitive form of the verb.

With -re (third group) verbs, the process is almost the same, but we have to delete the -e at the end of the verb.

For example:

Cacher (to hide)Prendre (to take)
Je cacherai
(I will hide)
Je prendrai
(I will take)
Tu cacheras
(You will hide)
Tu prendras
(You will take)
Il/elle/on cachera
(He/she/it/one will hide)
Il/elle on prendra
(He/she/it/one will take)
Nous cacherons
(We will hide)
Nous prendrons
(We will take)
Vous cacherez
(You [polite] / You all will hide)
Vous prendrez
(You [polite] / You all will take)
Ils/elles cacheront
(They will hide)
Ils/elles prendront
(They will take)

Futur Antérieur Tense

The second way to talk about the future is by using the futur antérieur.

This tense is used to describe future events that happen before other future events, such as with the sentence: “by the time you arrive, I will have cleaned the house.”

You’re well-prepared for this tense because the conjugation is similar to the passé composé and plus-que-parfait.

The only difference is that you’ll conjugate your auxiliary verb, avoir or être, in the futur simple tense.

Take the following two examples:

Prendre (to take)Venir (to come)
J'aurai pris
(I will have taken)
Je serai venu(e)
(I will have come)
Tu auras pris
(You will have taken)
Tu seras venu(e)
(You will have come)
Il/elle/on aura pris
(He/she/it/one will have taken)
Il/elle sera venu(e)
(He/ she/it/one will have come)
Nous aurons pris
(We will have taken)
Nous serons venus(/es)
(We will have come)
Vous aurez pris
(You [polite] / You all will have taken)
Vous serez venu/venue/venus/venues
(You [polite] / You all will have come)
Ils/elles auront pris
(They will have taken)
Ils/elles seront venus(/es)
(They will have come)

Future Tense with Aller

You know how in English you can say, “I will do my homework,” but you can also say “I am going to do my homework”?

Well, French has a similar construction. You can talk about future events using the formula:

pronoun + present-tense form of aller + action verb in infinitive

As an example, let’s use the verb jouer (to play).

JouerTo play
Je vais jouerI am going to play
Tu vas jouer You are going to play
Il/elle/on va jouerHe/she/it/one is going to play
Nous allons jouerWe are going to play
Vous allez jouerYou [polite] / You all are going to play
Ils/elles vont jouerThey are going to play

The French Conditional

Present Conditional Tense

The present conditional tense is used to express what “would” or “could” happen.

It uses the same formula as the futur simple: add the proper endings directly onto the infinitive for -er and -ir verbs.

Likewise, for -re verbs, we take off the -e and add the endings.

Cacher (to hide)Prendre (to take)
Je cacherais
(I would hide)
Je prendrais
(I would take)
Tu cacherais
(You would hide)
Tu prendrais
(You would take)
Il/elle/on cacherait
(He/she/it/one would hide)
Il/elle/on prendrait
(He/she/it/one would take)
Nous cacherions
(We would hide)
Nous prendrions
(We would take)
Vous cacheriez
(You [polite] / You all would hide)
Vous prendriez
(You [polite] / You all would take)
Ils/elles cacheraient
(They would hide)
Ils/elles prendraient
(They would take)

Past Conditional Tense

Use the past conditional tense to talk about something that might have happened in the past, but didn’t. It’s like the English construction “would have.”

We’re going to apply the same concept as in the futur antérieur, except that instead of using the futur simple form of the auxiliary verb, we’ll use the conditional form as follows:

Prendre (to take)Venir (to come)
J'aurais pris
(I would have taken)
Je serais venu(e)
(I would have come)
Tu aurais pris
(You would have taken)
Tu serais venu(e)
(You would have come)
Il/elle/on aurait pris
(He/she/it/one would have taken)
Il/elle serait venu(e)
(He/she/it/one would have come)
Nous aurions pris
(We would have taken)
Nous serions venus(/es)
(We would have come)
Vous auriez pris
(You [polite] / You all would have taken)
Vous seriez venu/venue/venus/venues
(You [polite] / You all would have come)
Ils/elles auraient pris
(They would have taken)
Ils/elles seraient venus(/es)
(They would have come)

French Imperative and Subjunctive Moods

French conjugation isn’t just about tense—it’s also about mood.

So far we’ve been working with the indicative mood, used for expressing statements of fact or objectivity.

But there are two other important moods in French:

  • Imperative mood: used to express orders and commands
  • Subjunctive mood: used in situations where there is doubt or uncertainty

Imperative Mood

In most verbs, the imperative (giving orders) uses the same conjugation as the present simple tense. For example:

Prendre (to take):

(Tu) prends ça ! ([You] Take this!)

(Nous) prenons ça ! (Let’s take this!)

(Vous) prenez ça ! ([You/You all] Take this!)

Note that there’s no imperative conjugation for je, il/elle/on or ils/elles.

A few irregular verbs do have irregular forms in the imperative mood as well:

Être (to be):

(Tu) sois gentil ! ([You] Be nice!)

(Nous) soyons gentil ! (Let’s be nice!)

(Vous) soyez gentil ! ([You/You all] Be nice!)

Avoir (to have):

(Tu) aie confiance ! ([You] Have faith!)

(Nous) ayons confiance ! (Let’s have faith!)

(Vous) ayez confiance ! ([You/You all] Have faith!)

Subjunctive Mood

To fully explain the French subjunctive would require a whole other article. For our purposes, think of the subjunctive mood as a way to express doubt or emotion.

For example:

Je sais qu’il est ici (I know that he is here) uses the indicative mood, but…

Je doute qu’il soit ici (I doubt he is here) uses the subjunctive mood.

In most verbs, the only difference between the normal (indicative) conjugation and the subjunctive conjugation is that you have to add an i in the nous and vous forms.

For example:

Nous cachons vs. Nous cachions

Vous cachez vs. Vous cachiez

However, some verbs are exceptions and have different conjugations. This is the case for our favorite irregulars: être, aller, avoir and faire:

Être (to be)Aller (to go)Avoir (to have)Faire (to do/make)
Je sois
(I am)
(I go)
(I have)
Je fasse
(I do/make)
Tu sois
(You are)
Tu ailles
(You go)
Tu aies
(You have)
Tu fasses
(You do/make)
Il/elle/on soit
(He/she/it/one is)
Il/elle/on aille
(He/ she/it/one goes)
Il/elle/on ait
(He/she/it/one has)
Il/elle/on fasse
(He/she/it/one does/makes)
Nous soyons
(We are)
Nous allions
(We go)
Nous ayons
(We have)
Nous fassions
(We do/make)
Vous soyez
(You [polite] / You all are)
Vous alliez
(You [polite] / You all go)
Vous ayez
(You [polite] / You all have)
Vous fassiez
(You [polite] / You all do/make)
Ils/elles soient
(They are)
Ils/elles aillent
(They go)
Ils/elles aient
(They have)
Ils/elles fassent
(They do/make)

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More French Conjugation Resources

This may seem like a lot of information to digest, but soon, it’ll all feel like second-nature. Just think of all the French learners who have mastered this before you!

As you learn, I recommend making use of one of the many great online conjugators available for free, as well as fantastic resources for practicing what you’ve just learned.

WordReference’s Conjugator


WordReference’s Conjugator has to be the most comprehensive tool of its kind. Just type in the verb and every possible conjugation appears.

WordReference is well-organized and succinctly explains every conjugation, including highlighted stem changes and rarely used (mostly literary) conjugations.



Conjugation-fr is another great practice resource. It offers a database of over 12,000 French verbs, making it perfect for whenever you get stuck in the middle of French reading or writing practice.

One advantage of this tool is that it gives a brief summary of each verb along with its translation. Plus, its accessible format makes for easy reading and learning.

Francais Interactif


If you want some extra practice, the University of Texas has made French conjugation exercises freely available at Francais Interactif.

They offer over a hundred different lessons, so there’s truly something for everyone here! You can also filter exercises by the type of verb and the verb tense, for extra targeted practice.


This website offers a free game to practice your French conjugation skills.

It has a ton of options for customization: you can sort by how common the verb is, by tense, by pronoun or by level of difficulty.

You can even make an account to track your progress over time!


Once you’ve mastered the basics of French conjugation, you’ll start to notice the patterns while practicing your French reading and listening skills.

As you get used to seeing and hearing French verbs used in everyday French sentences, it will reinforce those verb conjugations so you remember them even better.

One great way to get exposure to the language is to watch French movies and TV shows — especially if you can turn on subtitles.


Conjugating French correctly takes commitment and practice. Fortunately, most verbs you’ll come across fall into predictable categories in all their forms.

In time, you’ll master irregular verbs as well as uncommon French tenses that show up in literature.

If you keep practicing, French conjugation will become second nature to you in no time at all!

And one more thing...

If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.

FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.


For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:


Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."


All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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