Irregular -ir Verbs

Verbes du troisième groupe*

There are around 50 irregular -ir verbs, but that doesn’t mean you have to memorize 50 different verb conjugation tables. Thanks to patterns in the conjugations of most of these verbs, you only need to learn 16.

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

dormir to sleep
mentir to lie
partir to leave
sentir to feel
servir to serve
sortir to 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 : ouvrir
je / j’ -e     ouvre
tu -es     ouvres
il/elle/on -e     ouvre
nous   -ons     ouvrons
vous -ez     ouvrez
ils/elles -ent     ouvrent

Common verbs

couvrir to cover
cueillir to pick
offrir to offer
ouvrir to open
souffrir to 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

je viens
tu viens
il/elle/on vient
nous   venons
vous venez
ils/elles viennent

 There is, however, one important difference between these verbs in the compound tenses: venir and most of its derivatives require être 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. asseoir
  3. avoir
  4. courir
  5. décevoir / recevoir
  6. devoir
  7. falloir
  8. mourir
  9. pleuvoir
  10. pouvoir / vouloir
  11. savoir
  12. valoir
  13. voir

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

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French verb conjugations


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