Irregular -re Verbs

Verbes du troisième groupe*

Even though there are more than 100 irregular -re verbs, you don’t have to learn a hundred conjugation tables. Since many of these verbs follow certain patterns, you only need to memorize about 20.

1) Verbs like rompre

Rompre and its derivations are conjugated in the present tense like regular -re verbs, with one exception: in the third person singular, the ending is a t:

Endings   Par exemple : rompre
je -s     romps
tu -s     romps
il/elle/on -t     rompt
nous   -ons     rompons
vous -ez     rompez
ils/elles -ent     rompent

Common verbs

corrompre   to corrupt
interrompre   to interrupt
rompre   to break

2) Verbs like cuire

All verbs that end in -uire, –dire, –fire and –lire are conjugated in the present tense by dropping -re and adding s to the plural forms. They take the same endings as above:

Endings   Par exemple : cuire
je -s     cuis
tu -s     cuis
il/elle/on -t     cuit
nous   -ons     cuisons
vous -ez     cuisez
ils/elles -ent     cuisent

Common verbs

conduire   to drive
confire   to preserve, pickle, candy
construire   to build
contredire   to contradict
cuire   to cook
se dédire   to go back on one’s word
déduire   to deduce, deduct
détruire   to destroy
dire*   to say, tell
éconduire   to dismiss
élire   to elect
enduire   to coat
frire   to fry
induire   to mislead
instruire   to instruct
interdire   to forbid
introduire   to introduce, insert
lire   to read
luire   to shine
médire   to malign
nuire   to harm
prédire   to predict
produire   to produce
reconduire   to renew
reconstruire   to rebuild
redire*    to repeat, say again
réduire   to reduce
reluire   to shine
reproduire   to reproduce
séduire   to seduce
suffire   to suffice
traduire   to translate

  * The second person plural forms of dire and redire in the present tense are vous dites and vous redites. All other conjugations follow the above pattern.

These verbs are all conjugated the same way in most tenses and moods. However, each ending (-dire/-fire, –lire, –uire) has a different past participle and therefore different passé simple and imperfect subjunctive conjugations.

3) Verbs like écrire

All verbs that end in -crire are conjugated in the present tense by dropping -re and adding v to the plural forms. They take the same endings as above:

Endings   Par exemple : écrire
je (j’) -s     écris
tu -s     écris
il/elle/on -t     écrit
nous   -ons     écrivons
vous -ez     écrivez
ils/elles -ent     écrivent

Common verbs

circonscrire   to contain, confine
décrire   to describe
écrire   to write
inscrire   to inscribe, write down
prescrire   to prescribe
proscrire   to prohibit, ban
récrire   to rewrite
souscrire   to subscribe
transcrire   to transcribe

4) Verbs like craindre

All verbs that end in -aindre, -eindre, and -oindre are conjugated in the present tense by dropping the d in all forms and adding g in front of n in the plural forms. They take the same endings as above:

Endings   Par exemple : craindre
je -s     crains
tu -s     crains
il/elle/on -t     craint
nous   -ons     craignons
vous -ez     craignez
ils/elles -ent     craignent

Common verbs

adjoindre   to appoint
astreindre   to compel, force
atteindre   to attain, reach
ceindre   to don, put on
conjoindre   to unite
contraindre   to force, compel
craindre   to fear
dépeindre   to depict
déteindre   to bleach, leach
disjoindre   to disconnect, separate
empreindre   to imprint
enfreindre   to infringe, break
enjoindre   to enjoin (someone to do something)
épreindre   to juice
éteindre   to extinguish, snuff out
étreindre   to embrace, clutch
feindre   to feign
geindre   to groan, whine
joindre   to join
oindre   to anoint
peindre   to paint
plaindre   to pity, feel sorry for
rejoindre   to rejoin, get back to
repeindre   to repaint
restreindre   to restrict, limit
reteindre   to dye again, redye
teindre   to dye

  The next two groups use the same present tense endings as regular -re verbs, but have an irregular stem.

5) Verbs like mettre

All verbs that end in –ttre are conjugated in the present tense by dropping the second t in all the singular forms:

Endings   Par exemple : mettre
je -s     mets
tu -s     mets
il/elle/on     met
nous   -ons     mettons
vous -ez     mettez
ils/elles -ent     mettent

Common verbs

abattre   to knock down, weaken
admettre   to admit
battre   to beat
combattre   to combat, fight
commettre   to commit
compromettre   to compromise
débattre   to debate
mettre   to put
permettre   to permit
promettre   to promise
soumettre   to submit
transmettre   to transmit

However, be aware that verbs that end in -battre have a different past participle and therefore different passé simple and imperfect subjunctive conjugations from verbs that end in -mettre.

6) Verbs like prendre

Prendre and all of its derivations are conjugated in the present tense by dropping the d in all the plural forms and doubling the n in the third person plural, then adding the regular -re endings:

Endings   Par exemple : prendre
je -s     prends
tu -s     prends
il/elle/on     prend
nous   -ons     prenons
vous -ez     prenez
ils/elles -ent     prennent

Common verbs

apprendre   to learn
comprendre   to understand
entreprendre   to undertake
se méprendre   to be mistaken
prendre   to take
reprendre   to take again, retake
surprendre   to surprise

7) Verbs like connaître

All verbs that end in -aître (except naître) are conjugated in the present tense as follows: drop –tre in all forms and use these irregular endings. Note the addition of a circumflex in the third person singular.

Endings   Par exemple : connaître
je -s     connais
tu -s     connais
il/elle/on -^t     connaît
nous   -ssons     connaissons
vous -ssez     connaissez
ils/elles -ssent     connaissent

Common verbs

apparaître   to appear
comparaître   to appear in court
connaître   to know, be familiar with
disparaître   to disappear
méconnaître   to be unaware of
paraître   to seem
reconnaître   to recognize
reparaître   to reappear
transparaître   to show through

Really irregular -re verbs

Knowing the seven patterns above will allow you to conjugate the vast majority of irregular -re verbs, leaving just a few with unique or nearly unique conjugations:

  1. boire
  2. clore
  3. conclure | exclure | inclure | occlure
  4. coudre
  5. croire
  6. absoudre | dissoudre | résoudre
  7. distraire
  8. être
  9. faire | défaire | parfaire | refaire
  10. moudre
  11. naître
  12. plaire | déplaire
  13. rire | sourire
  14. suivre | poursuivre
  15. se taire
  16. vivre | survivre

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

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French verb conjugations
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