French Irregular Verbs and How to Use Them

While learning French irregular verbs may seem a little overwhelming, with patience and practice, you will grasp the concept. And you'll find it easier to form correct sentences.

In this article we will take a closer look at French irregular verbs and some synonyms you can use instead.

Currently, French is the sixth-most-spoken language in the world, with roughly 220 million people speaking it. In recent years, the level of interest in learning French as a second language has increased substantially.

In a 2014 Forbes magazine publication, the investment bank Natixis projected that 750 million people will speak French by 2050. If that comes to fruition, it means that French will be the most spoken language in the world, even ahead of English and Mandarin Chinese, which is the native tongue of more than 1 billion people. If true, that gives you even more reason to start learning French.

Understanding French Irregular Verbs

When it comes to verbs, there are many different applications and rules. Typically, regular verbs end with “er,” “ir,” or “re.” To put these verbs in present tense, you would remove the last two letters, followed by adding the appropriate endings based on the subject. For past-tense words, you would remove the standard “ed” letters. While regular verbs are predictable, irregular verbs are not, meaning they do not follow a specific pattern.

Because the last letters of French irregular verbs do not determine what conjugated endings they receive, you need to memorize them. Interestingly, in this language, irregular verbs encompass some of the most vital and commonly used verbs, making it essential to learn them.

To better understand, consider irregular verbs in English. To show past tense, they do not have the traditional “ed.” A few examples include words like “broken,” “sang,” “bled,” “felt,” “went,” and “bitten.” To clarify, an irregular verb is a verb that does not follow the normal pattern based on its infinitive form.

As you go through the process of learning French as a second language, whether in preparation for visiting or moving to a French-speaking country, to better communicate with family and friends, or just for fun, you need to understand irregular verbs. To help you advance in your endeavor, we listed some of the irregular verbs most often used in the French language, along with variations.

learning french irregular verbs takes time and perseverance
Learning French irregular verbs takes time and perseverance. Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Examples of Irregular Verbs in French

While learning irregular verbs in French may seem a little overwhelming at first, with patience and practice, you will grasp the concept. Over time, you fill find it easier to form correct sentences.

Aller – Go (to go)

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je vais – I go
  • Tu vas – You go
  • Nous allons – We go
  • Elle va or ll va – She goes or He goes
  • Ils vont – They go

Avoir – To have

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • J’ai – I have
  • Tu as or Vous avez – You have
  • Nous avons – We have
  • Elle a or Il a – She has or He has
  • Ils ont – They have

Être – Be (to be)

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je suis – I am
  • Tu es or Vous être – You are
  • Nous sommes – We are
  • Elle est or ll est – She is or He is
  • Elles sont – They (f) are 

Pouvoir – Power (to be able to)

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je peux – I can
  • Tu peux or Vous pouvez – You can
  • Nous pouvons – We can
  • Elle peut or ll peut – She can or He can
  • Ils peuvent – They can

Faire – Do (to do)

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je fais – I do
  • Vous faites – You do
  • Tu fais or Nous faisons – We do
  • Elle fait or Il fait – She does or He does
  • Ils font – They do

Vouloir – Want (want to)

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je veux – I want
  • Tu veux or Vous voulez – You want
  • Nous voulons – We want
  • Elle veut or Il veut – She wants or He wants
  • Ils veulent – They want

Voir – See (to see)

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je vois – I see
  • Tu vois or Vous voyez – You see
  • Nous voyons – We see
  • Elle voit or Il voit – She sees or He sees
  • Ils voient – They see

Dire – Say/Tell (to say or to tell)

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je dis – I say/tell
  • Tu dites or Vous dites – You say/tell
  • Nous disons – We say/tell
  • Elle dit or Il dit – She says/tells or He says/tells
  • Ils dissent – They say/tell

à Savoir – To know

Alternatives for this phrase using irregular verbs in French include:

  • Je connais – I know
  • Tu sais or Vous Savez – You know
  • Nous savons – We know
  • Elle connaît or ll connaît – She knows or He knows
  • Ils savent – They know

Commanding the Language

Remember, French irregular verbs, as in other languages, consist of uncommon patterns. After you learn these patterns, identifying and conjugating irregular verbs becomes much easier. Even though French is the sixth-most-spoken language in the world, it is not necessarily one of the easiest to learn. As mentioned, with determination and persistency, you will gain command of this language.

Fortunately, you have a broad range of options to help you gain command over the French language. For instance, you can listen to audio recordings, watch videos or live streams, attend classes, read books, and so on. In support of your quest to become fluent in French, or at a minimum to carry on a general conversation, consider finding a group of like-minded individuals.

Once you feel confident with your French, you can then book a trip to visit one of the 29 countries that speak this language. Instead of feeling like an outsider, becoming lost, or finding yourself in an uncomfortable position, you can rely on your new language. Overall, you will have a much better time abroad.

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