Introduction to Verbs

French verbs
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Initiation aux verbes

Verbs are action words that express the action (He runs) or state of being (I am tired) of a sentence. They are one of the main parts of speech.

French verbs have to be “conjugated” or “inflected”; that is, changed according to how they are used. They have five to six different conjugations for each tense and mood.

The basic form of a verb is called the infinitive and is the name of the verb. The English infinitive is “to” followed by a verb, while the French infinitive is a single word with one of three infinitive endings (-er, –ir, or –re). These can then be further divided into regular verbs, which follow a standard pattern of verb conjugations, and irregular verbs, which don’t:

1. -er parler (to speak)  Regular -er verbs Irregular -er verbs
2. -ir finir (to finish) Regular -ir verbs Irregular -ir verbs
3. -re vendre (to sell) Regular -re verbs Irregular -re verbs

  When you encounter a new verb, be sure to learn its infinitive, which is used as the basis for just about everything you do with it. (The French Verb Deconjugator can help!)

Most French verbs are conjugated by removing the infinitive ending to find the "radical" or "root" (e.g., parler –> parl-) and then adding the appropriate ending, which is determined by a combination of five different elements:

  1. Number
  2. Person
  3. Tense
  4. Mood
  5. Voice

 French Verb Conjugations

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Self-study checklist with lessons, quizzes, and comprehension exercises.
 

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French verbs

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