regular-french-ir-verbs

12 Must-Know Regular -Ir Verbs and How to Use Them with Ease

Without verbs, we couldn’t do… well, anything.

We could only point at things and yell nouns and adjectives.

But you probably already knew that verbs were essential to language, and therefore, to learning French.

Well then, what’s the problem? Let’s start conjugating! It’ll be your favorite thing.

Or not. Regardless, if you’re serious about learning French, you need to learn to love your verbs.

Once you master conjugating them, you can move onto the finer things in life: caviar, watching French movies, reading French novels, and even… drumroll… speaking French! (That’s the goal here, right? Or am I in the wrong place?)

So today I’m going to break down one entire group of French verbs for you: regular -ir verbs.
 


 
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Quick Crash Course: What, for Pete’s (Pierre’s) Sake, Is a Regular -Ir Verb?

In French, there are three groups of verbs:

Le premier groupe (First Group): Verbs that end in -er, like parler (to talk).

Le deuxième groupe (Second Group): Verbs that end in -ir (the verbs in question), like partir (to leave).

Le troisième groupe (Third Group): All other verbs, usually irregular, and verbs that end in -re, like attendre (to wait).

So, -ir verbs are one of three amazing groups of French verbs. I’m sure that you’ll get around to all three, but for now, we’ll stick with one group.

What makes them regular? They show up the most? They dress casually? They get their fiber?

No, none of that. When a verb is regular, it means that it follows a simple formula for conjugation. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, are rebels. They play by their own rules.

In short, regular verbs are the easiest ones to conjugate!

Conjugation Station: The Past, Present and Future of -Ir Verbs

The infinitive (the un-conjugated verb) doesn’t do you much good. Sure, you’ll need it for the near-future (“I am going to” + infinitive) and other grammar constructions. But at the crux of a verb’s usage, is the ability to conjugate and accommodate to different subjects and tenses.

Present Tense

For all regular present tense verbs (irregulars aside!), there are basic endings you tack on to the stem, based on who’s performing the action described by the verb. If you aren’t familiar with the terms, don’t worry, we’ll break it down with the example of bâtir (to build):

The stem for any regular -ir verb will be the infinitive (bâtir), with the –ir chopped off and thrown into the trash can. That leaves us with the stem:

bât-

Now that we have the stem, we add our present tense endings based on who’s performing the action described by the verb:

Endings

Je… -is
Tu… -is
Il/Elle/On… -it
Nous… -issons
Vous… -issez
Ils/Elles… -issent

So then, all together now with our example bâtir!

Je bâtis (I build) 
Tu bâtis (You build)
Il/Elle bâtit (He/She builds)
Nous bâtissons (We build)
Vous bâtissez (You build)
Ils/Elles bâtissent (They build)

And that will work for all of the regular -ir verbs! Every. Last. One.

Imperative Mood

I like to call the imperative mood the “bossy pants mood,” because it’s used to give commands to people. Let’s use the example of abolir (to abolish) to show the three different forms of the imperative mood:

There are the tu, nous and vous forms of the imperative mood. Depending on who you’re commanding or expressing a wish to, you will use one of these forms. Only, you won’t use the pronoun. Think of the English imperative: “Sit down!” “Make me coffee!” “Leave!”

It’s the same idea, but with different conjugations depending on who you’re talking to:

Endings

(tu) -is
(nous) -issons
(vous) -issez

Notice that they’re the same as the present tense. So if we conjugate abolir, we get:

Abolis les chapeaux rouges !
(Abolish red hats!)

Abolissons les légumes verts !
(Let’s abolish green vegetables!)

Abolissez les devoirs !
(Abolish homework!)

You get the picture. Again, this will work with any old regular -ir verb in the book.

Perfect Tense

Regardless if you have delved into the past or not (if not, then the link above will give you a great overview of this past tense), it’s good to be familiar with the endings.

Since the perfect tense is a compound tense—first made up of avoir or être conjugated to the subject in the present tense, plus what we like to call the “past participle,”—it’s important to know both how to conjugate avoir and être, as well as what the past participles are for each verb. Let’s use guérir (to cure/heal) as an example:

With any regular -ir verb, you start with the stem (by chopping off the -ir part) to find the past participle:

So guérir becomes guér- 

Then, you add the ending for the past participle (which is the same no matter what your regular -ir verb is): –i

Which makes your past participle: guéri 

Then, whether you’re using the past participle for the perfect tense, or another compound tense (go you!), you place the past participle after the conjugated verb, like so:

J’ai guéri (I healed)
Tu as guéri (You healed)
Il/Elle a guéri (He/She healed)
Nous avons guéri (We healed)
Vous avez guéri (You healed)
Ils/Elles ont guéri (They healed)

You can also think of this as simply cutting off the -r on the infinitive in order to get your past participle!

Imperfect Tense

Another past tense! (And once again, you can learn or review the tense by following the link above). The imperfect (no less perfect than the perfect tense), is used to describe past events that spanned a longer period of time, are related to emotion, or happened before another past event. Actually, learning when to use the imperfect tense is the real challenge, conjugating it for regular -ir verbs is a breeze.

We’ll use the verb grossir (to get fat/gain weight) as an example.

You start by conjugating the nous form of the verb (remember that you find the stem by cutting off the -ir, then add –issons).

This leaves us with grossissons.

Warning: Do not be alarmed by the insane amount of s’s. It happens with -ir verbs sometimes! Just follow the rules and I promise you’ll get it right.

So now that you have the nous form, you cut off the -ons part (just that part), which leaves us with grossiss- 

Endings

Then, you add the imperfect ending:

Je… –ais
Tu… –ais
Il/Elle/On… –ait
Nous… –ions
Vous… –iez
Ils/Elles… –aient 

Mix it all together with our stem grossiss-, and you get:

Je grossissais (I was putting on weight)
Tu grossissais (You were putting on weight)
Il/Elle grossissait (He/She was putting on weight)
Nous grossissions
(We were putting on weight)
Vous grossissiez
(You were putting on weight)
Ils/Elles grossissaient
(They were putting on weight)

No matter how many s’s in your verb, this will work every time with regular -ir verbs!

Future

You likely guessed by the name of the tense, that it’s used to talk about events that will happen in the future. You’re right! If you want a more in-depth discussion on how and when to use the future tense, follow the link above.

Now this one really is the easiest to conjugate (I’m not just saying that so you’ll keep reading!). In fact, it doesn’t matter if the verb in question is a regular -ir verb or regular -er verb, it’s the same method:

Let’s use maigrir (to lose weight) as an example:

To find the stem, you do nothing. With regular -ir and -er verbs, the stem is the infinitive! Yay!

Endings

Then, you add the future endings:

Je… -ai
Tu… -as
Il/Elle/On… -a
Nous… -ons
Vous… -ez
Ils/Elles… -ont 

Throw it all together and you get:

Je maigrirai (I will lose weight)
Tu maigriras (You will lose weight)
Il maigrira (He will lose weight)
Nous maigrirons (We will lose weight)
Vous maigrirez (You all will lose weight)
Ils maigriront (They will lose weight)

So let’s all join a gym! (Just kidding.)

Where and How to Study Up on Regular French -Ir Verbs

You retained all of that, right? Okay, so if not, there are tons of fun ways to study verbs (especially -ir verbs).

  • QuizletIf you haven’t already been using Quizlet to challenge your knowledge and whirl yourself up into a flashcard frenzy, then you’re missing out big time. Here’s a link to a great list of regular -ir verbs. If you need to work on vocabulary and definitions, then this a great place to try out flashcards, play games and practice your spelling!
  • Languageguide.orgLanguageguide.org is exactly what it sounds like, another great resource that will guide you through language learning. It has access to good French reading material, vocabulary and grammar modules. For our purposes, here’s a great activity to practice conjugating regular -ir verbs, if that’s where you find the struggle to be real.
  • Conjuguemos: Let me level with you, conjugation may be where the struggles lie. Conjuguemos is a great resource to have bookmarked throughout your life as a Francophile. Whatever your trouble may be—subjunctive, past tense, future, compound tenses galore—there are customizable conjugation activities for each. The site also includes vocabulary practice and more grammar than we can handle. To see how you fair with those -ir verbs, here’s a link to their turf.
  • Index cards. Yes, there are some of us who really do enjoy caressing note cards and color coding our vocabulary words! For -ir verbs, or any type of verbs, there’s a great system to study with nothing more than a pack of index cards and some colored markers. You’ll need to make three piles of index cards:

First pile: the infinitives of regular -ir verbs on one side, and their definitions on the back.

Second pile: the names of all the tenses you know so far (present, future, perfect, imperfect, subjunctive, etc.)

Third pile: pronouns, including je, tu, il/elle, nous, vous, ils/elles.

Then shuffle them up, pick one from each pile and do the appropriate conjugation. If you picked choisir from one pile, present tense from the second and je from the third pile, then your answer would be je choisis. 

Don’t let anyone tell you that flashcards aren’t amazing and magical!

12 Regular (But Certainly Not Boring) French -Ir Verbs

Can’t do too much with all of the information I’ve just laid down without a few words to start with. Here are twelve of the most commonly used regular -ir verbs in French. Each word links to every which way to conjugate the verb. Oh my!

1. agir

Definition: to act

Parfois, il agit sans réfléchir.
(Sometimes, he acts without thinking.)

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: ag-

J’agis
Tu agis
Il/Elle agit
Nous agissons
Vous agissez
Ils/Elles agissent

Hear it pronounced

2. choisir

Definition: to choose

J’ai choisi une belle chemise pour toi.
(I chose a nice shirt for you.)

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: chois-

Je choisis
Tu choisis
Il/Elle choisit
Nous choisissons
Vous choisissez
Ils/Elles choisissent 

Hear it pronounced

3. finir

Definitionto finish

Quand je finis mes devoirs, je vais regarder Netflix jusqu’à deux heures du matin.
(When I finish my homework, I’m going to watch Netflix until two in the morning).

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: fin-

Je finis
Tu finis
Il/Elle finit
Nous finissons
Vous finissez
Ils/Elles finissent 

Hear it pronounced

4. grandir

Definitionto grow up

Peter Pan ne grandit jamais !
(Peter Pan never grows up!)

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: grand-

Je grandis
Tu grandis
Il/Elle grandit
Nous grandissons
Vous grandissez
Ils/Elles grandissent

Hear it pronounced

5. nourrir

Definitionto feed

Nourris ton serpent ! Il y a trois souris dans le frigidaire pour lui.*
(Feed your snake! There are three mice in the fridge for her.)

* The above conjugation is the imperative, which was covered in the overview of tenses above!

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: nourr-

Je nourris
Tu nourris
Il/Elle nourrit
Nous nourrissons
Vous nourrissez
Ils/Elles nourrissent

Hear it pronounced

6. obéir

Definition: to obey

Si tu obéis à ta mère, tout ira bien .
(If you obey your mother, all will go well).

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: obé-

Je obéis
Tu obéis
Il/Elle obéit
Nous obéissons
Vous obéissez
Ils/Elles obéissent 

Hear it pronounced

7. punir

Definitionto punish

Le prof a puni les élèves qui avaient lancé des œufs.
(The teacher punished the students who had thrown eggs.)

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: pun-

Je punis
Tu punis
Il/Elle punit
Nous punissons
Vous punissez
Ils/Elles punissent

Hear it pronounced

8. réfléchir

Definitionto think, reflect

Réfléchis ! Il faut trouver un bon cadeau pour maman !*
(Think! We must find a good gift for mom!)

* The above conjugation is the imperative, which was covered in the overview of tenses above!

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: réfléch-

Je réfléchis
Tu réfléchis
Il/Elle réfléchit
Nous réfléchissons
Vous réfléchissez
Ils/Elles réfléchissent

Hear it pronounced

9. remplir

Definitionto fill

Chaque vendredi, nous remplissons la piscine avec de la gélatine.
(Each Friday, we fill the pool with gelatin).

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: rempl-

Je remplis
Tu remplis
Il/Elle remplit
Nous remplissons
Vous remplissez
Ils/Elles remplissent

Hear it pronounced

10. réunir

Definitionto reunite

L’organisation de la fête réunit les membres de la famille.
(The organization of the party reunites the family members.)

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: réun-

Je réunis
Tu réunis
Il/Elle réunit
Nous réunissons
Vous réunissez
Ils/Elles réunissent

Hear it pronounced

11. rougir

Definitionto blush

Quand elle voit Jacques au parc, elle rougit !
(When she sees Jacques at the park, she blushes!)

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: roug-

Je rougis
Tu rougis
Il/Elle rougit
Nous rougissons
Vous rougissez
Ils/Elles rougissent

Hear it pronounced

12. vieillir 

Definitionto grow old

Si tu bois ce verre d’eau magique, tu ne vieilliras jamais !
(If you drink this magical water, you will never grow old!)

Conjugated in Present Tense:

Stem: vieill-

Je vieillis
Tu vieillis
Il/Elle vieillit
Nous vieillissons
Vous vieillissez
Ils/Elles vieillissent

Hear it pronounced

 

Think you’re ready for irregular verbs after all of that? They’re the real fun ones. No pressure though.

No matter what speed you’re working at, mastering the art of regular -ir verbs brings you one step closer to Proust, or eating stinky French cheeses, or even binging on French TV. Whatever your cup of tea may be. Or should I say champagne? Oh whatever, bonne chance ! 

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