How to Conjugate Regular French Verbs

To simplify things, French has classified regular verbs into three types, based on the ending of their infinitives. Think of all the things you can possibly do in one day. That’s also a lot of verbs to conjugate.

  • The largest group is the verbs whose infinitive ends in -er (the -er verbs), like parler (to speak).

  • The second largest group is made up of the verbs whose infinitive ends in -ir (the -ir verbs), like finir (to finish).

  • The third group consists of the -re ending verbs (the -re verbs), like vendre (to sell).

Each type follows a pattern of conjugation for every tense.

Think of the infinitive as the family name of a verb: A family shares a common last name, but each individual has his or her own characteristics, right. Use the infinitive to recognize the verb type (-er, -ir, or -re) that allows you to find its conjugation pattern and also look up the verb in the dictionary.

How to conjugate a regular -er verb

More than 80 percent of French verbs are -er verbs. It’s great for you, because after you know their pattern of conjugation in the present tense, you can pretty much conjugate 80 percent of French verbs. Doesn’t that sound great?

To conjugate a regular -er verb, drop the -er of the infinitive to get the stem. Then add the six present tense endings specific to -er verbs: -e, -es, -e, -ons, -ez, -ent, and you’re done. Easy! The following table conjugates a regular -er verb: aimer (to like).

j’aime nous aimons
tu aimes vous aimez
il/elle/on aime ils/elles aiment

Aller (to go) is a very common verb, and it looks like a regular -er verb. However, it is not. Aller is a very irregular verb.

How to conjugate a regular -ir verb

The -ir verb group is the second most common verb type. To form the present tense of a regular -ir verb, drop the -ir of the infinitive to get the stem for the present tense conjugation. Then add the present tense endings specific to -ir verbs: -is, -is, -it, -issons, -issez, -issent. The following table conjugates a regular -ir verb: finir (to finish).

je finis nous finissons
tu finis vous finissez
il/elle/on finit ils/elles finissent

Not all -ir verbs follow this pattern. So just use a little more caution when dealing with -ir ending verbs.

How to conjugate a regular -re verb

Verbs that end in -re are the third conjugation type. To form the present tense of an -re verb, drop the -re of the infinitive, like you do for -er and -ir verbs. When you do that, you’re left with the stem for the conjugation of the present tense, and you can add the present tense endings specific to -re verbs: -s, -s, nothing, -ons, -ez, -ent.

The following table conjugates a regular -re verb: vendre (to sell).

je vends nous vendons
tu vends vous vendez
il/elle/on vend ils/elles vendent
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