The Present Tense of French Verbs

Strasbourg, France

Verbs are words that describe an action, state of being, or occurrence. The usage of verbs in French is quite complex and will take some time to master.

In this lesson you'll learn how to use the three classes of French verbs in the present tense. This lesson also introduces some very common French verbs.

French also has many irregular verbs. In this lesson, you'll learn how to use the common irregular verbs être, avoir, and aller in the present tense.

Present Tense of French Verbs

The present tense of French verbs is used to indicate an ongoing action, habitual action or general state. For example I walk, I am walking, and I do walk are all equivalent to je marche in French.

French has several categories of verbs, verbs that end in er, verbs that end in ir, and verbs that end in re. In this lesson you'll learn how to use each of these types of verbs in the present tense. You'll also learn a few very common irregular verbs.

Regular er Verbs

This is the most common group of French verbs. They follow the pattern of aimer (to love) as shown in the following table.

French English
j'aime I love
tu aimes you love (familiar singular)
elle aime she loves
il aime he loves
nous aimons we love
vous aimez you love (polite or to more than one person)
elles aiment they love
ils aiment they love

The following are some common er verbs.

arriver arrive
chanter sing
chercher look for
commencer begin
demander ask for


Sophie commence à étudier le français. Sophie is starting to study French.
Charles chante une chanson. Charles sings a song.
Je cherche mes clés. I'm looking for my keys.
Quand commences-tu ton cours? When do you begin your course?
Ils demandent plus de café. They are asking for more coffee.
Elias swims in the lake.
Lucas nage dans le lac.
Sophie is playing tennis.
Sophie joue au tennis.


Regular ir Verbs

The ir verbs follow the form of finir (to finish) as shown in the following table.

French English
je finis I finish
tu finis you finish (familiar singular)
il finit, elle finit he finishes, she finishes
nous finissons we finish
vous finissez you finish
ils finissent, elles finissent they finish

The following table shows some common ir verbs.

accomplir accomplish
avertir warn
choisir choose
convertir convert
nourrir feed
remplir fill


Sophie choisit une glace pour le dessert. Sophie chooses ice cream for desert.
Hugo remplit sa tasse d'eau. Hugo fills his cup with water.
Je finis mes devoirs puis prépare le dîner. I finish my homework then make dinner.
Nadine writes in her notebook.
Nadine écrit dans son carnet.

Regular re Verbs

The re verbs follow the form of vendre (to sell) as shown in the following table.

French English
je vends I sell
tu vends you sell (familiar singular)
il vend, elle vend he sells, she sells
nous vendons we sell
vous vendez you sell (plural and polite)
ils vendent, elles vendent they sell

The following table shows some common re verbs.

attendre wait for, expect
défendre defend
descendre descend
entendre hear
perdre lose
rendre give back, return
répondre answer
vendre sell


Je réponds à vos questions. I'm answering your questions.
Louise vend sa voiture. Louise is selling her car.
Nous entendons les oiseaux le matin. We hear the birds in the morning.


Être (To Be)

The verb être means to be and is very irregular in French.

être be
je suis I am
tu es you are (familiar singular)
il est, elle est he is, she is
nous sommes we are
vous êtes you are (plural and polite)
ils sont, elles sont they are


Je suis content. I am happy.
La maison est très vieille. The house is very old.
Où est le chat? Où sont les chats?

Avoir (To Have)

The verb avoir means to have and is also very irregular in French.

avoir have
j'ai I have
tu as you have (familiar singular)
il a, elle a he has, she has
nous avons we have
vous avez you have (plural and polite)
ils ont, elles ont they have
She has an apple.
Elle a une pomme.
The boats have white sails.
Les bateaux ont des voiles blanches.

Aller (To Go)

The verb aller means to go and is also very irregular in French.

aller go
je vais I go
tu vas you go (familiar singular)
il va, elle va he goes, she goes
nous allons we go
vous allez you go
ils vont, elles vont they go



Sylvie et Charles sont assis sur un banc dans un parc, profitant d'une journée d'été chaleureuse.

Charles: Quelle belle journée!

Sylvie: Oui. Je ne peux pas croire à quel point c'est chaud.

Charles: Regardez toutes les personnes qui se promenent autour du parc.

Sylvie: J'entends que ça va pleuvoir demain, afin que les gens profitent du beau temps.

Charles: Eh bien, autant que j'aime assis dans le soleil, j'ai très faim.

Sylvie: Tu n'es pas le seul. Allons-y.

Charles et Sylvie se lèvent et marchent vers le restaurant.


Sylvie and Charles are sitting on a bench in a park enjoying a warm summer day.

Charles: What a beautiful day!

Sylvie: Yes. I can't believe how warm it is.

Charles: Look at all the people walking around the park.

Sylvie: I hear that it is going to rain tomorrow, so people are taking advantage of the nice weather.

Charles: Well, as much as I enjoy sitting in the sunshine, I am getting very hungry.

Sylvie: You're not the only one. Let's go.

Charles and Sylvie stand up and walk towards the restaurant.


Here are some flashcards to help you learn the French verbs included in this lesson.