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 that end in –mir or –tir

Most verbs that end in –mir or –tir 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 : couvrir
je -e     couvre
tu -es     couvres
il/elle/on -e     couvre
nous   -ons     couvrons
vous -ez     couvrez
ils/elles -ent     couvrent

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, venir, and 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

Common verbs

abstenir (s’) to abstain
advenir to happen that
appartenir to belong
contenir to contain
convenir to suit
détenir to detain
devenir to become
entretenir to maintain, support
intervenir to intervene
maintenir to maintain
obtenir to obtain
parvenir to reach, achieve
prévenir to warn, prevent
provenir to come from
retenir to retain
revenir to come back
soutenir to support
souvenir (se) to remember
tenir to hold
venir to 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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