French Verb Patterns in Conjugation

Learning French verb patterns is a key to mastering the conjugating of French verbs. Verbs in French have one of three endings.

  • ER
  • IR
  • RE
The infinitive of most verbs in French end in the letters ER. Lesser numbers end in the letters IR and RE.

Most follow a regular pattern for each 'ending group'. Exceptions to this pattern are called irregular verbs.

So if you learn the regular patterns you will know the patterns for most verbs.

There are 10 major different tenses for which you will learn conjugation patterns. There are about 70 conjugations patterns. However the majority of verbs are regular French verbs, and follow similar, repeating patterns. Learn one pattern and it is exactly the same for hundreds, even thousands of other verbs.

To conjugate each verb, the last two letters (ER, IR, RE) are either dropped and a different ending is added for each pronoun (I, you, he, she, it, we, you all, they).

Or the an ending is added to the infinitive.

The endings are as follows:

Regular Verbs - Simple Tenses - the endings for each conjugation

Here are the main verb groups in modern French useage. Check out our lists of fully conjugated French verbs to see these different formats with real verbs. Don't get too bothered about the technical names for these verb families - you'll see them in the verbs lists for what they really are.

For example present indicative of a verb like 'to walk' - is just I walk which is je marche in French.

Regular Verbs - Compound Tenses - the endings for each conjugation

There are four compound tenses in regular use in French conversation.

Irregular Verbs in French

Unfortunately for the learner of French language, the irregular verbs are often some of the most common. That is because we as humans love to twist, shorten, garble and generally reconstruct words in common use.

Call your son Robert, and he will soon be called Bob, Bobby, Rob or Robby. The same thing happens with words in language. Which is how Latin became twisted into so many different modern forms - French, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, English etc.

One can often see the root word that betrays the common ancestry of a word, but each linguistic grouping has in many cases contorted each word into different structures, meanings and shades of meaning.

So the French irregular verbs have to be learnt, as they are usually common verbs. Again however groups of these do follow the same irregular French verb patterns.

Textbooks you should have to help with French Verb Patterns: Bescherelle

Every student of French should have two important guide books. Bescherelle. A Verb Reference of the main fully conjugated French Verbs.
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Enjoy learning French verb patterns - both irregular and regular. Learn conjugating French verbs here through the Learn French Help online language school.

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