State-of-Being Verbs

French state-of-being verbs
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Verbes d’Ă©tat

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 mĂ©dicin. I’m a doctor.
OcĂ©ane semble triste. OcĂ©ane 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 paraĂźt 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)
apparaĂźtre to appear, seem
s’appeler to be called/named
s’avĂ©rer 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
ĂȘtre to be
ĂȘtre considĂ©rĂ© comme to be considered
se faire to get, become
former to form, make up
se montrer to show/prove oneself to be
paraĂźtre to appear
passer pour to pass for, be regarded as
redevenir to become again
reprĂ©senter to depict, portray
rester + adjective to stay
se rĂ©vĂ©ler 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 tombĂ© malade. He got sick. (state-of-being verb)
Il est tombĂ© 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'Ă©tat

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