How to Conjugate Verbs in French: Present Tense

In order for a verb to match its subject, you must conjugate the verb. There are three groups of verbs in French:
First group includes verbs that have an infinitive form ending with -er.


Parler (To speak)

Second group includes verbs that have an infinitive form ending with –ir, but only those that have their present participle ending with -issant.


Finir (To finish) > finissant (finishing)

Third group includes all irregular verbs that are not in the first and the second groups. They have an infinitive form ending with –ir, -oir, or -re


Venir (To come), Voir (To see), Prendre (To take)

Here are the steps of conjugating regular verbs in the present tense:
1. Choose the verb you need.
2. Write only the stem (the verb without the –er/-ir/-oir/ or -re ending.)
3. Add the ending that matches the subject.
Verb Endings:

-ER VERBS (first group) like Chanter (To sing)
Je chant-e (I sing)Nous chant-ons (We sing)
Tu chant-es (You sing)Vous chant-ez (You sing)
Il/Elle/On chant-e (He/She sings)Ils/Elles chant-ent (They sing)

-IR VERBS (second group) like Finir (To finish)
Je fin-is (I finish) Nous fin-issons (We finish)
Tu fin-is (You finish) Vous fin-issez (You finish)
Il/Elle/On fin-it (He/She finishes) Ils/Elles fin-issent (They finish)

-IR, -OIR, -RE VERBS (third group)

For the three singular persons je, tu and il/elle/on (I, you, he/she/it), endings can be -s, -s, -t or -s, -s, -d or -x, -x, -t. It depends on the ending of the infinitive form.
The endings of the three plural persons nous, vous, ils/elles (us, you, they) are always -ons, -ez, -ent.

Vendre (To sell)
Je vends, tu vends, il/elle/on vend, nous vendons, vous vendez, ils/elles vendent.

Boire (to drink)
Je bois, tu bois, il/elle/on boit, nous buvons, vous buvez, ils/elles boivent.

Vouloir (To want)
Je veux, tu veux, il/elle/on veut, nous voulons, vous voulez, ils/elles veulent.

As you can see with the conjugation of these three last verbs, verbs can have 2 or 3 different stems. We will see in an other lesson, the classification of the verbs according to their number of stem.

Related Links:
Possessive Adjectives (or Possessives Determiners) in French
Question Words in French

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