HomeLanguage EducationLanguage LearningFrench Conjugation: The Present Tense - 21 Most Common Verbs (With Charts...

French Conjugation: The Present Tense – 21 Most Common Verbs (With Charts and Examples)

French conjugation refers to the different endings of French verbs.

For example, think of the verb “to speak”, which in French is parler. In English, the verb is the same whether it’s I speak, you speak, or they speak.

In French, the verb changes:

  • Je parle – “I speak”
  • Tu parles – “You speak”
  • Ils parlent – “They speak”.

We have conjugation in English, because our verb endings change, too. For example, you don’t say “she speak”, you say “she speaks”.

When you’re learning these French conjugations as a native English speaker, it can feel scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

French Conjugation Can Be Easy

Do you find French conjugation scary? If yes, you are not alone. Many learners think the same, especially in the beginning.

When I was a secondary school student learning French, it seemed impossible to learn how to conjugate the most basic verbs, let alone master French conjugation.

Even so, I decided to study languages at university. I lived in France and Belgium, and ended up teaching French to people from all over the world.

Today, I speak French on a daily basis.

The conjugations that scared me so much come naturally to me now. If I could go back in time and apply the knowledge I had today, I would have become fluent sooner.

So instead, I’ll share it with you!

The 3 Types of Verbs in French

To understand French conjugation, you need to know the different types of French verbs. We can divide French verbs into three groups:

  • First group verbs: regular verbs ending with -er, like parler
  • Second group verbs: regular verbs ending with -ir, like choisir
  • Third group verbs: irregular verbs that don’t follow a specific rule, like faire

What is the difference between regular and irregular verbs? The conjugation of irregular verbs doesn’t follow a pattern, like with regular verbs.

Have a look at this table which compares the regular verb parler (“to speak”) to the irregular verb être (“to be”)

Parler (regular verb) Être (irregular verb)
je parle je suis
tu parles tu es
il/elle parle il/elle est
nous parlons nous sommes
vous parlez vous êtes
ils/elles parl/ent ils/elles sont

Can you see how parler follows a pattern and être doesn’t? That’s the difference between regular and irregular verbs in French.

Is French Conjugation Hard?

I have a piece of good news and a piece of bad news.

Good news: 80% of French verbs belong to the first group, regular verbs. If you know how to conjugate one of these verbs, it means that you can conjugate all of them.

For example, the verb parler, (“to speak”) belongs to the first group. All the other first group verbs follow the same logic as parler when it comes to conjugation in the present tense. This means you can apply your knowledge to all the other first group verbs and conjugate déciderarrivermanger, and thousands more.

Bad news, now? Some of the most common verbs in French are third group verbs, which means they are not regular.

Think of the verbs you use every day in English—”to have”, “to go”, “to come”, “to do”… You would use them on a regular basis in French as well—avoir, aller, venir, faire… They all belong to the third group.

Learning the most common French verbs would not only speed up your learning, but it will also help you get more fluent and more confident while you’re using the language.

Most Common Verbs in French for Beginners

Let’s conjugate some of the most common verbs together. To make it easier, we’ll start with the first group verbs and then move on to the irregular third group verbs.

Keep in mind that this list is not in order of frequency.

1. Parler (“To Speak”)

Suffixes for 1st group verbs Conjugation Translation
-e Je parle I speak
-es Tu parles You speak
-e Il/elle parle He/she speaks
-ons Nous parlons We speak
-ez Vous parlez You speak
-ent Ils/elles parlent They speak

Example sentence: Je parle français. (“I speak French.”)

Note: Parler is a first group verb. Here is how we conjugate these verbs in French present tense: we remove the -er and add the correct ending. As you can see in the chart, the ending for each person is different.

2. Penser (“To Think”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je pense I think 1st
Tu penses You think
Il/elle pense He/she thinks
Nous pensons We think
Vous pensez You think
Ils/elles pensent They think

Example sentence: Tu penses à quoi? (“What are you thinking of?”)

Note: Penser is also a first group verb so we conjugate it the same way as parler, using the same endings.

3. Aimer (“To Like” / “To Love”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’aime I like 1st
Tu aimes You like
Il/elle aime He/she likes
Nous aimons We like
Vous aimez You like
Ils/elles aiment They like

Example sentence: Il aime sa famille. (“He loves his family.”)

Note: When the verb starts with a vowel, we do a contraction for je and for je only. For example, instead of saying je aime, we should say j’aime.

4. Regarder (“To Watch”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je regarde I watch 1st
Tu regardes You watch
Il/elle regarde He/she watches
Nous regardons We watch
Vous regardez You watch
Ils regardent They watch

Example sentence: Vous regardez la télé tous les jours. (“You watch TV every day.”)

5. Appeler (“To Call”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’appelle I call 1st
Tu appelles You call
Il/elle appelle He/she calls
Nous appelons We call
Vous appelez You call
Ils/elles appellent They call

Example sentence: Ma mère m’appelle. (“My mother is calling me.”)

Note: You already know this verb. How? Think of the first sentence you’ve learned in French. It’s probably je m’appelle. Although it is used as “my name is,” its literal meaning is “I call myself.” Makes sense right?

6. Donner (“To Give”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je donne I give 1st
Tu donnes You give
Il/elle donne He/she gives
Nous donnons We give
Vous donnez You give
Ils/elles donnent They give

Example: Je donne le livre à ma sœur. (“I givethe book to my sister.”)

7. Aider (“To Help”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’aide I help 1st
Tu aides You help
Il/elle aide He/she helps
Nous aidons We help
Vous aidez You help
Ils/elles aident They help

Example: J’aide mon ami. (“I help my friend.”)

Note: Here’s a trick to remember the verb aider: think of “first aid” in English. It comes from Old French which originates from Latin.

8. Manger (“To Eat”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je mange I eat 1st
Tu manges You eat
Il/elle mange He/she eats
Nous mangeons We eat
Vous mangez You eat
Ils/elles mangent They eat

Example: Je mange trop de sucre. (“I eat too much sugar.”)

Note: While we’re conjugating, we must keep in mind the pronunciation as well. French is not a phonetic language, which means that it’s not pronounced the same way it’s written.

Now check out nous mangeons. It looks like there’s an extra -e there, right? It’s just there so that the G in mangeons sounds like the rest of the verb.

9. Habiter (“To Live”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’habite I live 1st
Tu habites You live
Il/elle habite He/she lives
Nous habitons We live
Vous habitez You live
Ils/elles habitent They live

Example: Elle habite à Paris. (“She lives in Paris.”)

Note: The letter “h” usually counts as a vowel in French and it is always silent. This is why we say j’habite and not je habite.

10. Finir (“To Finish”)

Suffixes for 2nd group verbs Conjugation Translation
-is Je finis I finish
-is Tu finis You finish
-it Il/elle finit He/she finishes
-issons Nous finissons We finish
-issez Vous finissez You finish
-issent Ils/elles finissent They finish

Example: Elles finissent dans 10 minutes. (“They finish in 10 minutes.”)

Note: Finir is a second group verb. To conjugate these verbs, we first remove the -ir infinitive and add the right ending. We can apply this to all of the second group verbs.

11. Choisir (“To Choose”)

Conjugation Translation Group
Je choisis I choose 2nd
Tu choisis You choose
Il/elle finit He/she chooses
Nous choisissons We choose
Vous choisissez You choose
Ils/elles choisissent They choose

Example: Je choisis la deuxième option. (“I choose the second option.”)

Note: Choisir belongs to the second group as well so it has the same endings as finir.

12. Être (“To Be”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je suis I am 3rd
Tu es You are
Il/elle est He/she is
Nous sommes We are
Vous êtes You are
Ils/elles sont They are

Example sentence: Je suis malade. (“I am sick”)

Note: Although être is an irregular verb, it’s likely to be one of the first verbs you learn in French. I’d recommend learning it very well as—spoiler alert—être will be very important as you learn other tenses in French.

13. Avoir (“To Have”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
J’ai I have 3rd
Tu as You have
Il/elle a He/she has
Nous avons We have
Vous avez You have
Ils/elles ont They have

Example sentence: J’ai 25 ans. (“I am 25 years old.”)

Tip: Don’t forget that we use the verb avoir, not être to talk about our age in French. You’re literally saying “I have 25 years” instead of “I am 25 years old.”

14. Aller (“To Go”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je vais I go 3rd
Tu vas You go
Il/elle va He/she goes
Nous allons We go
Vous allez You go
Ils/elles vont They go

Example sentence: Mon frère va à l’école. (“My brother goes to school.”)

Tip: Aller is a tricky verb. Although it ends with -er, it is an irregular verb and it belongs to the third group. You can see that its conjugation is very different from first group verbs.

15. Venir (“To Come”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je viens I come 3rd
Tu viens You come
Il/elle vient He/she comes
Nous venons We come
Vous venez You come
Ils/elles viennent They come

Example sentence: Tu viens du sud. (“You come from the south.”)

Note: Just like the verb aller, venir is also a third-group verb—don’t let the -ir ending fool you.

16. Faire (“To Do” / “To Make”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je fais I do/make 3rd
Tu fais You do/make
Il/elle fait He/she does/makes
Nous faisons We do/make
Vous faites You do/make
Ils/elles font They do/make

Note: Have you noticed something in common between faire and venir? In both these verbs, je and tu are conjugated the same way. Il/elle end with -t, nous ends with -ons, and vous ends with -ez.

What about ils/elles in faire? That’s very different from venir. Well, check out aller this time!

17. Vouloir (“To Want”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je veux I want 3rd
Tu veux You want
Il/elle veut He/she wants
Nous voulons We want
Vous voulez You want
Ils/elles veulent They want

Example sentence: Je fais du sport tous les jours. (“I do sports every day.”)

Example sentence: Il veut beaucoup de cadeaux pour son anniversaire. (“He wants a lot of presents for his birthday.”)

18. Pouvoir (“To Be Able To” / “To Can”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je peux I can 3rd
Tu peux You can
Il/elle peut He/she can
Nous pouvons We can
Vous pouvez You can
Ils/elles peuvent They can

Example sentence: Je peux parler français. (“I can speak French.”)

19. Savoir (“To Know”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je sais I know 3rd
Tu sais You know
Il/elle sait He/she knows
Nous savons We know
Vous savez You know
Ils/elles savent They know

Example sentence: Je ne sais pas. (“I don’t know.”)

Note: Check out the similarities between the conjugations of vouloir, pouvoir, and savoir.

20. Voir (“To See”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je vois I see 3rd
Tu vois You see
Il/elle voit He/she sees
Nous voyons We see
Vous voyez You see
Ils/elles voient They see

Example sentence: Je vois une voiture devant le supermarché. (“I see a car in front of the supermarket.”)

21. Prendre (“To Take”)

Conjugation Translation Verb group
Je sais I know 3rd
Tu sais You know
Il/elle sait He/she knows
Nous savons We know
Vous savez You know
Ils/elles savent They know

Example sentence: Vous prenez le bus à 10h. (“You take the bus at 10 o’clock.”)

Note: In French, there are many important verbs that derive from prendre. Comprendre, for example, means “to understand.” You would conjugate it the same way as prendre.

How to Make Negative Sentences in French Present Tense

The most common way to make a negative sentence in French is to use the words ne and pas. The verb would go in the middle of these two words. If you check example 19, you will see the negation in action: je ne sais pas (“I don’t know”).

Here are some other ways to form negative sentences in French:

Negative words Meaning Example Translation
ne … pas not Je ne parle pas. I don’t speak.
ne … rien anything Tu ne fais rien. You don’t do anything.
ne … personne nobody/no one/anybody/anyone Elle ne voit personne. She doesn’t see anyone.
ne … jamais never, not … ever Vous ne fumez jamais. You never smoke.
ne … plus any more Il n’est plus là. He’s not here anymore.

French Pronunciation Tips for Verbs

It is true that spelling these verbs correctly is important, especially if you’re a student. But don’t forget that pronunciation is equally important. This is the part where it gets easier though.

Let’s explain by using the verb parler again. As we just covered, the present tense conjugations for the verb parler are je parle, tu parles, il/elle parle, nous parlons, vouz parlez, ils/elles parlent.

Among these six conjugations, parle, parles and parlent are all pronounced the same. That’s four out of six which means that you have more than a 50% chance of getting the pronunciation right! This is only one of the reasons why speaking French is easier than you think. You only need to learn how to say the nous form and the vous form, which is not that hard—you just don’t pronounce the last letter.

In French, there is also an alternative word for nous. It’s called on and it means “we,” just like nous. But on is conjugated in the same way as il/elle, not nous. Native speakers use on instead of nous in informal situations such as when they are speaking with their friends. So if you say on parle instead of saying nous parlons, you would sound more fluent. Plus, it’s easier to conjugate.

French Conjugation Tips

Start With the Most Common Verbs

This will boost your confidence as you’ll start to understand French more and more. When you learn the common verbs, you’ll be able to conjugate the more uncommon ones more easily as well.

Look for Patterns

Even in irregular verbs, there are some patterns. For example, vous conjugations end with -ez in many verbs.

Try identifying these patterns so that you’ll spend less time finding the right conjugation for each verb.

Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t be afraid to speak even though you’re not 100% sure if you are conjugating the verbs correctly. If you don’t know a word, there is always a way to work around it to make yourself understood.

By speaking with fellow French speakers, you will get a lot of speaking practice, including conjugation.

Listen to French Songs and Watch French Films

Besides improving your vocabulary, you’ll also hear correctly-conjugated French verbs all the time. Plus, you’ll listen to nice songs and watch cool films. Win-win!

Use Different Techniques to Study

You can use different techniques to practise your verbs and see what works best for you. Writing verbs on flashcards, reading them out loud, or using a language learning app can all be options.

Also, keep in mind that everyone has a different learning style. For example, I learn by writing and speaking.

So… You Mastered the French Present Tense. What’s Next?

I’d say once you’re confident conjugating aller, venir, avoir, and être and a handful of the common verbs, you can move on to futur proche (near future) or passé composé (present perfect/simple past).

Next articles? Possibly!

Bonne chance! (“Good luck!”)

Yaren Fadiloglulari

Freelance Content Writer & Journalist

Originally from Cyprus, Yaren is a freelance writer for many digital publications, travel and education brands, and start-ups.

Speaks: English, Turkish, French, and Spanish

View all posts by Yaren Fadiloglulari

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments