Irregular -ir Verbs

Irregular French verbs
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Verbes du troisiĂšme groupe*

There are around 60 irregular -ir verbs, but that doesn’t mean you have to memorize 60 different verb conjugation tables. Thanks to patterns in the conjugations of most of these verbs, you only need to learn 21.

Verbs like partir

These verbs are conjugated in the present tense by dropping the final letter of the stem in the singular conjugations before adding these endings:

Endings Par exemple : partir
je-s   pars
tu-s  pars
il/elle/on-t  part
nous  -ons  partons
vous-ez  partez
ils/elles-ent  partent

Common verbs

dormirto sleep
mentirto lie
partirto leave
sentirto feel
servirto serve
sortirto go out

and their derivatives: ressentir, endormir, etc.

Verbs that end in -llir, -frir, or -vrir

Most verbs that end in -llir and all that end in -frir or -vrir are conjugated like regular -er verbs, thus the endings

Endings Par exemple : couvrir
je-e   couvre
tu-es  couvres
il/elle/on-e  couvre
nous  -ons  couvrons
vous-ez  couvrez
ils/elles-ent  couvrent

Common verbs

couvrirto cover
cueillirto pick
offrirto offer
ouvrirto open
souffrirto suffer

and their derivatives: découvrir, recueillir, etc.

Verbs that end in -enir

All verbs with this ending (tenir [to hold], venir [to come], and all of their derivatives) follow this pattern in the present tense.

Par exemple : venir

nous  venons

Common verbs

abstenir (s’)to abstain
advenirto happen that
appartenirto belong
contenirto contain
convenirto suit
détenirto detain
devenirto become
entretenirto maintain, support
intervenirto intervene
maintenirto maintain
obtenirto obtain
parvenirto reach, achieve
prévenirto warn, prevent
provenirto come from
retenirto retain
revenirto come back
soutenirto support
souvenir (se)to remember
tenirto hold
venirto come

 There is, however, one important difference between these verbs in the compound tenses: venir and most of its derivatives require ĂȘtre as their helping verb, while tenir and all of its derivatives require avoir.

Really irregular -ir verbs

Knowing the above three patterns will allow you to conjugate most irregular -ir verbs, leaving just these with unique or nearly unique conjugations:

  1. acquérir | conquérir
  2. assaillir | défaillir | saillir | tressaillir
  3. asseoir
  4. avoir
  5. bouillir
  6. courir | parcourir | secourir
  7. décevoir | recevoir
  8. devoir
  9. falloir
  10. mourir
  11. mouvoir | Ă©mouvoir | promouvoir
  12. pleuvoir
  13. pouvoir | vouloir
  14. savoir
  15. servir | desservir
  16. valoir
  17. vĂȘtir | revĂȘtir
  18. voir

* French grammarians lump all irregular verbs together in le troisiĂšme groupe.

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French irregular -ir verbs

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