Verbs of Perception

French verbs of perception
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Verbes de sensation

Verbs of perception indicate that the subject is using one of three senses (sight, sound, or touch) to perceive something, which may be an object or an action. The six most common French verbs of perception are

1.   apercevoir   to glimpse
2.   écouter   to listen to
3.   entendre   to hear
4.   regarder   to look at
5.   sentir   to feel
6.   voir   to see

Like other transitive verbs, verb of perception are often followed by a noun: the direct object.

Par exemple…

J’ai aperçu un tigre.   I glimpsed a tiger.
J’écoute les oiseaux.   I’m listening to the birds.
J’entends des étudiants.   I hear some students.
Je regarde le chat.   I’m looking at the cat.
J’ai senti le feu.   I felt the fire.
Je vois les piétons.   I see the pedestrians.

They can also be followed by an infinitive which indicates what the direct object is doing.

Par exemple…

J’ai aperçu un tigre chasser un sanglier.   I glimpsed a tiger hunting a wild boar.
J’écoute les oiseaux chanter.   I’m listening to the birds sing.
J’entends des étudiants avoir une discussion.   I hear some students having a discussion.
Je regarde le chat sommeiller.   I’m looking at the cat napping.
J’ai senti le feu brûler.   I felt the fire burning.
Je vois les piétons traverser la rue.   I see the pedestrians crossing the street.

 Note that the French infinitive in this construction is usually equivalent to the English present participle.

More about French verbs of perception

Page 1: Introduction to verbs of perception
Page 2: Word order with verbs of perception
Page 3: Agreement with verbs of perception

 Related lessons

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French verbs of perception

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