Essentially Pronominal Verbs

French pronominal verbsTwo dozen French verbs always require a reflexive pronoun but aren't necessarily reflexive or reciprocal. These "essentially pronominal" verbs can only be used pronominally, as without the pronoun, the verb is meaningless.


Être – to be

Être - to beÊtre is one of the two most important French verbs. It literally means "to be," but also serves as an auxiliary verb and is the key to the passive voice.


Faillir – to almost do

J'ai failli pleurerFaillir has no direct verbal English equivalent when used as a semi-auxiliary verb; English needs an adverb or a short phrase to capture the meaning, such as "to almost do."


Faire – Causative Construction

French causative constructionThe causative is a grammatical construction with a lazy subject who, rather than performing some action himself, is making someone or something else do it: to make something happen, to have something done.


Faire – to do, to make

Faire - to do, to makeOne of the most common and useful French verbs, faire literally means "to do" or "to make" but it's also found in many idiomatic expressions and is the key to the causative construction.



Falloir - to needThe irregular French verb falloir means "to need," "to be necessary," or "to be lacking." Since falloir is an impersonal verb, it has only one conjugation in each tense and mood: the third person singular; for example, the present tense il faut.



Habiter vs Vivre

Habiter vs vivreBelieve it or not, life in France is so great that one verb just isn't enough: "to live" may be equivalent to habiter or vivre, depending on what exactly you want to say.


Impersonal Verbs

Impersonal French verbsMost verbs are personal: they must be conjugated for different grammatical persons. But some verbs are used impersonally, meaning they have only one conjugation, the third person singular.


Introduction to Verb Conjugation

French verb conjugationWhen you start learning French, it's not just French vocabulary you have to get used to - you're also introduced to a whole new world of grammatical terms. For many students, one of the most daunting of these is verb conjugations. Just what is a verb conjugation and what does it mean to conjugate a verb?


Introduction to Verbs

French verbsVerbs are action words that express the action or state of being of a sentence. French verbs have five to six different conjugations for each tense and mood.


Inversion with je

French inversionInversion with the first person singular je is a little trickier than with other subject pronouns. It's also very formal and therefore rare, so one of those grammar concepts you need to recognize but not necessarily use.




Jouer - to playJouer is a regular -er French verb that can be a bit confusing when it comes time to decide which preposition should follow. Here's everything you need to know.


Literary Tenses and Moods

French literary tensesFrench has five past tenses/moods that are restricted to formal, written French. They were once common in spoken French, offering nuances that no longer exist today.