State-of-Being Verbs

French state-of-being verbs
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Verbes d’état

State-of-being verbs have various names* but no action. These verbs create a link between their subject and a noun or adjective that describes or defines it.

Par exemple…

Je suis médicin.   I’m a doctor.
Océane semble triste.   Océane seems sad.

State-of-being verbs never have direct objects. Any noun that directly follows the verb is something called a "subject complement": a word that can basically replace the subject because they are one and the same.

You can always recognize a state-of-being verb by the fact that it can be replaced by "be" – the meaning might change slightly, but the essence is the same and the sentence is grammatical.

Il paraît heureux.
Il est heureux.
  He seems happy.
(He is happy.)
Le temps s’annonce orageux.
Le temps fait orageux.
  The weather looks stormy.
(The weather is stormy.)

State-of-being verbs can introduce

  • appearances
  • definitions
  • descriptions
  • feelings and moods
  • states of being (changing, temporary, or permanent)

French State-of-Being Verbs

Here are the most common French state-of-being verbs with links to conjugations.

s’affirmer (comme)   to assert oneself (as)
s’annoncer   to look, shape up (to be)
apparaître   to appear, seem
s’appeler   to be called/named
s’avérer   to turn out (to be)
avoir l’air   to seem
composer   to make up, form
consister en   to consist of, be made up of
constituer   to constitute, make up
demeurer   to remain
devenir   to become
être   to be
être considéré comme   to be considered
se faire   to get, become
former   to form, make up
se montrer   to show/prove oneself to be
paraître   to appear
passer pour   to pass for, be regarded as
redevenir   to become again
représenter   to depict, portray
rester + adjective   to stay
se révéler   to reveal / show oneself
sembler   to seem
se sentir   to feel
servir de   to act / serve as
tomber + adjective   to fall / get
se trouver   to find oneself

 Note that some of these are only part-time state-of-being verbs, depending on how they’re used.

Par exemple…

Il est tombé malade.   He got sick.   (state-of-being verb)
Il est tombé par terre.   He fell on the ground.   (action verb)

* Other names for state-of-being verbs:

une copule   copula
un verbe copulatif   copular verb
un verbe de liaison   linking verb

 Related lessons

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Verbes d'état

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