Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2. Verbs (and its conjugations)

In French, the usage of a verb is pretty complicated. It has its own form depends on what subject you use (I, you, he, she, or we). But to know how to form the verb, first you must understand the verbs in the infinitive form in which when you translate directly to English, have "to" in front of them. (Example: attendre: to wait, parler: to speak, courir: to run)

Verbs in the Infinitive Form
This is the basic form of verb. Usually in sentences, you change its form according to the subject you use. But not necessarily, if you already have another verb. Or sometimes, you don't have to put in a subject, for example: Allons danser (Let's dance) although allons is based on aller which means "to go". See that's what I meant, if you already have a verb that has changed form (in this case: allons). So the other verb stays in the infinitive verb (in this case: danser). But let's not confuse you with these now. You'll get it by time.

So, the  verbs in the infinitive form is divided in to three by its suffix (-er, ir/ire, or ir/oir/re). Every each has its own way to change form, but like English and perhaps any other language, it also has irregular verbs which I will explain to you later.

attendre (to wait)
parler (to speak)
marcher (to walk)
manger (to eat)
finir (to finish)
courir (to run)
lire (to read)
dormir (to sleep)
voir (to see)
prendre (to take)
suprendre (to surprise)

Before I explain to you about the conjugations, you probably should first take a look at the pronouns we will use. Now, in the pronouns I will explain later in the fifth chapter as I've summarized, I will give you the list of all pronouns. But here, we need only to know about the subject we use to state what somebody's doing.

Je : I
Tu : You (familiar)
Il : He
Elle: She
Nous: We
Vous: You (formal)*
Ils: They

*Vous sometimes can mean as "you" in plural. But when you combine it with a verb, the conjugation stays the same whether you mean "you" as in one person or "you" as in more than one person

These are important to remember, as I will give you example with these pronouns when I give examples of the conjugations.

Radical and Terminaison
I'm not really sure of this, I mean I don't understand this completely. But I have read it in some book, so I'm pretty sure it's accurate. In the purpose to easily understand about conjugations, we could remember this thing. So a verb consists of  radical (the root of the verb) and terminaison (suffix). We can not change the root of the verb, but the suffix could be change to match the subject and tense. In conjugations, we only change the suffix to fit it with the subject and the tense.

Trouv (radical) -er (terminaison)

Conjugation Pattern

To not get you mixed up, every verb and conjugation I will explain here are all present tense. If you want further reading, you could check here

1. Verbs which end with -er (in the infinitive form)
For this kind of verb, change the suffixes to:
 -e for Je
 -es for Tu
 -e for Il/Elle
 -ons for Nous
 -ez for Vouz
 -ent for Ils

The pattern is pretty much like this, to help you see it clearly:
 Je + Radical (R) + e
 Tu + R + es
 Il/Elle + R  + e
 Nous + R + ons
 Vous +R + ez
 Ils + R + ent

Je trouve
Tu trouves
Il/Elle trouve
Nous trouvons
Vous trouvez
Ils Trouvent

trouver: to find

Additional notes:
For radical that ends with the consonant 'c' (avancer, menacer, commencer, balancer, remplacer, etc). You change the "c" to "ç" for the subject Nous. The purpose is to avoid any hard "c" sound, as in cone, candy, , caramel, etc

Je commence
Tu commences
Il/Elle commence
Nous commençons
Vous commençez
Ils commencent

commencer: to start

For radical that ends with the consonant 'g' (manger, arranger, bouger, changer, voyager, partager, nager, etc). You add 'e' before 'o' for the subject Nous. The purpose is to avoid a hard "g" sound as in gorillas, grain, gamble, etc

Je mange
Tu manges
Il/Elle mange
Nous mangeons
Vous mangez
Ils mangent

manger: to eat

2. Verbs which end with -ir/-ire (in the infinitive form)
This kind of verb is pretty complicated. It has different radicals for the singular subject (je, tu, il/elle) and plural subject (nous, vous, ils). I will give you three examples
But before, you must remember the terminaison for this kind of verb
-s for Je
-s for Tu
-t for Il/Elle
-ons for Nous
-ez for Vous
-ent for Ils

r: Terminaison

(For singular subject)
(For plural subject)

Hence the conjugations:
Je finis
Tu finis
Il/Elle finit
Nous finissons
Vous finissez
Ils/Elles finissent

finir: to finish

ir: Terminaison

(For singular subject)
(For plural subject)

Je pars
Tu pars
Il/Elle part
Nous partons
Vous partez
Ils partent

partir: to leave

re: terminaison

(For the singular subject)
(For the plural subject)

Je écris
Tu écris
Il/Elle écris
Nous écrivons
Vous écrivez
Ils écrivent

écrire: to write

To help you see it more clearly, here is the pattern:
Je + Singular Radical + s
Tu + Singular Radical + s
Il/Elle + Singular Radical + t
Nous + Plural Radical + ons
Vous + Plural Radical + ez
Ils + Plural Radical + ent

The thing that you have to remember to conjugate this kind of verb is, you have to know which is the radical, and which is the terminaison. Sometimes the terminaison is the -ir, and -ire itself, or sometimes it's just the -re or -r. Sometimes the radical for the singular subject and the radical for the plural subject is the same, sometimes it's not. Although most plural radical ends with -ss (look at my first example)

3. Verbs which end with -re/-oir (in the infinitive form)
This kind of verb has to kind of terminaison:
For the verbs with the endings -re, it is:
-s for Je
-s for Tu
nothing for Il/Elle (look at the examples)
-ons for Nous
-ez for Vous
-ent for Ils

Observe carefully, I will give you the conjugations of verbs which radicals end with -d before -re (dre) and verbs which radicals end with -t before -re (-tre). If you look at the examples below, you will understand what I meant with nothing for Il/Elle

Verbs with -dre in the infinitive form
Je attends
Tu attends
Il/Elle attend
Nous attendons
Vous attendez
Ils attendent

attendre: to wait

Je perds
Tu perds
Il/Elle perd
Nous perdons
Vous perdez
Ils perdent

perdre: to wait

Additional notes
Except for verbs with pren before the -dre (like prendre -> to take or comprendre -> to understand) for this kind of verb, you need to change the d to n for Nous and Vous and change the d to nn for Ils.
Look: prendre

Verbs with -tre in the infinitive form
Je promets
Tu promets
Il promet
Nous promettons
Vous promettez
Ils promettent

promettre: to promise

Je permets
Tu permets
Il permet
Nous permettons
Vous permettez
Ils permettent

permettre: to allow

For the verbs with the endings -oir, it is:
-x for Je
-x for Tu
-t for Il/Elle
-ons for Nous
-ez for Vous
-ent for Ils
*note: for the singular subjects (je, tu, and il) add 'u' in the verb before x/t

Je veux
Tu veux
Il/Elle veut
Nous voulons
Vous voulez
Ils voulent

vouloir: to want/wish

Je vaux
Tu vaux
Il vaut
Nous valons
Vous valez
Ils valent

valoir: to be worth

The conjugations varies for this kind of verb (with the ends -oir). In voir (to see), you add -s instead of 'u' and -x and change the 'i' into 'y' in nous and vous. The same apply to verbs that also ends with -voir like revoir (to see again). It is applied simmilarly to recevoir (to receive) savoir (to know), or devoir (to must/have to). Except for pouvoir (to can/be able to), which changes form the same with vouloir (to want).

*Note: pouvoir, vouloir, and devoir act as modals in English (can, want, must- respectively). For further reading about modals in French, check here

Note that there are a lot of rules for conjugations in French. It is even hard for me to remember it all. Some of the examples I gave you might even be categorized as irregular verbs. Well, the most regular conjugations are all of the first example I gave you. The others could be categorized as irregular, but since it still has pattern so I added it here. To be fluent with the conjugation pattern and stuff, I suggest you read a french book, watch a french movie, read a french instructions (like the one you found from cosmetic bottles), or maybe read a more advanced french lesson. To learn more about the pattern of conjugation, check this out. And to look at the conjugation list, I suggest you look here. Or if you weren't clear with my lesson, you could check here.

Common Irregular Verbs
Like english, french also has common irregular verbs. These verbs has no pattern, so you really have to remember it by yourself. There are 4 most important irregular verbs you have to remember, être (to be), avoir (to have), aller (to go), faire (to make/do).

Être (to be)
This is the most important verb of the French language, or maybe any other language for that matter. In english, être act as to be (is, am, are). And it does literally mean to be. Sometimes it is used as an auxiliary verb
Je suis
Tu es
Il/Elle est
Nous sommes
Vous êtes
Ils sont

Je suis malade
I am sick
Tu es très jolie
You are very beautiful

Avoir (to have)
This verb does literally mean "to have". But sometimes it is also used as an auxiliary verb in past tense.
Tu as
Il/Elle a
Nous avons
Vous avez
Ils ont

J'ai un chien
I have a dog
Tu as mangé des crevettes
You ate shrimp
J'ai perdu mes bagages
I lost my luggage

Aller (to go)
Means "to go" in English, as in when you are going somewhere, to a place. Sometimes it is used as auxiliary verb for the future tense. More accurately, somewhere near the future. The conjugation form "Allons" to be used alone, means "let's" in English
Je vais
Tu vas
Il/Elle va
Nous allons
Vous allez
Ils vont

Je vais à l'hôpital
I am going to the hospital
Allons visiter Paris
Let's visit Paris
Allons danser
Let's dance
Il va lire le journal
He is going to read the newspaper

Faire (to do)
This verb means "to do" or "to make" in French. "To do" in the sense of doing a work- like doing the dishes, doing the homework, doing the laundry, etc. "To make" in the sense of making something (a noun) like making  a  new friend, making a cake, etc. Well, it actually pretty much the same as it is in English
Je fais
Tu fais
Il/Elle fait
Nous faisons
Vous faites
Ils font

Nous faisons un gâteau
We are making a cake
Je fais la lessive
I am doing the laundry
C'est le tone qui fait la musique
It's the tone that makes the music
Enchanté de faire votre conaissance
Delighted to make your acquaintance

I guess that's pretty much it you need to know about verbs (and its conjugations). This is the least basic, if you need to know more you could always check out the links I preferred before. You could also buy a book about french grammar, or the best way to learn it is to take french lessons. I hope this is helpful.

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