How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verbs Prendre, Apprendre, and Comprendre

By Veronique Mazet

The French verbs prendre (to take), apprendre (to learn), and comprendre (to understand) may come in handy to you. How can you say that you don’t understand if you can’t conjugate comprendre? Both apprendre and comprendre are derived from prendre and have the same irregular pattern of conjugation.

Here’s how you conjugate prendre in present, and by extension the same way you conjugate apprendre and comprendre.

  1. Drop the -dre of the infinitive to get the stem pren-.

  2. Add the appropriate ending for the subject: -ds, -ds, -d, -ons, -ez, or -nent.

The stem pren- is pronounced in a nasal way as long as no vowel follows it (that is, for the je, tu, il/elle, and ils/elles forms). With the vowels of the nous and vous endings (-ons and -ez), pren- is not nasal any more.

The following tables give you the complete present tense conjugation of prendre, apprendre, and comprendre.

je prends nous prenons
tu prends vous prenez
il/elle/on prend ils/elles prennent
j’apprends nous apprenons
tu apprends vous apprenez
il/elle/on apprend ils/elles apprennent
je comprends nous comprenons
tu comprends vous comprenez
il/elle/on comprend ils/elles comprennent