Updated date:

Beginners French: The Tenses: -ER Verbs

Author:
beginners-french-the-tenses

The French language has something known as a 'conjugation system'. This means that in order for you to say "I eat" (je mange) and "you eat" (tu manges) you have to change the verb ending of the verb that you used (manger = to eat). In this case, it was the addition of an extra "s" onto "mange" in "tu manges." As you can see, no such change is made in English (I eat, you eat), but similarly, a change is seen in third person "he/she/it eats" in the present tense.

Changes in the verb endings must be made when using verbs with the pronouns: "I" "you" "he/she/it" "we" "you (plural)" and "they".

But don't worry! There are simple rules that unify all of the verb endings, and after remembering these (and a few irregular endings) you will have a firm grasp of French grammar! Remember also that there there are different verb endings for each tense, so a different one for past, present, and future tenses.

Interesting Fact: The English language also used to have a conjugation system (a declension system) like the other European languages, but lost it around 1550 because it was easier that way! Lucky French students!

-ER verbs

-ER verbs are verbs that end in 'er' instead of anything else. A few examples include:

  • manger - to eat
  • jouer - to play
  • parler - to speak

Conjugating!
The verb "jouer" is taken as an example in the table below. If you wish to conjugate other "-er" verbs, just add the endings to the stem (the verb without the "-er") of the verb and add the appropriate endings. Try to memorise all of the verb endings because they will be used in every single french sentence you hear!

For an example of conjugation: "he eats" is "il manges" and "they would speak French" is "ils parleraient français".

Future and Conditional Tense
For the future and conditional tense, it is necessary to use the infinitive of the verb before adding on the necessary endings (see below). The infinite form is the one including the "-er" and is the form of the verb you would see in a dictionary.

Pronouns:
je =
"I"
tu = "you"
il/elle/on = "he/she/it"
Nous =
"we"
vous =
"you (plural)"
Ils/elles = "they (masculine)/they (feminine)".

For -ER verbs: the endings for each tense go as follows:

  • Present: (stem +) "e, es, e, ons, ez, ent"
  • Imperfect: (stem +) "ais, ais, ait, ions, iez, aient"
  • Future Simple: (infinitive +) "ai, as, a, ons, ez, ont"
  • Conditional: (infinitive +) "ais ais ait ions iez aient"

Note: Imperfect and conditional share the same endings, but conditional uses the endings on top of the infinitive form of the verb whereas imperfect uses the stem.

ER verb endings for the verb "jouer" - to play

PronounPresent TenseFuture (simple) TensePast (passé composé) TenseImperfect TenseConditional Tense

je

jouE

jouerAI

ai joué

jouAIS

jouerAIS

 

tu

jouES

jouerAS

as joué

jouAIS

jouerAIS

 

il/elle/on

jouE

jouerA

a joué

jouAIT

joueAIT

nous

jouONS

jouerONS

avons joué

jouIONS

jouerIONS

vous

jouEZ

jouerEZ

avez joué

jouIEZ

jouerIEZ

ils/elles

jouENT

jouerONT

ont joué

jouAIENT

jouerAIENT

beginners-french-the-tenses

Comments

DK (author) from London on May 09, 2012:

Thank you very much Zak and Khali Khan! :)

khalil khan the bucket on May 09, 2012:

woooooooooo best french site ever

zak on May 09, 2012:

this is amazing

DK (author) from London on April 01, 2012:

Thank you very much! :)

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on April 01, 2012:

I grew up in a French-Canadian household and didn't speak much English until I was second grade. Great Hub!

DK (author) from London on March 23, 2012:

Thank you very much Shara63! I'm très (very) glad to hear that!

Farhat from Delhi on March 22, 2012:

wonderful hub! this simple but effective way of the lesson has derived an interest in me for learning French.....thanks Philanthropy2012!

Related Articles