French Verbs

A verb is a lexical category employed in order to denote an action, an event or a state. Examples:


Ma mère a cuisiné du poisson (My mother has cooked fish)

Compound verb “a cuisiné” (“has cooked”) indicating an action carried out in the past.

Je suis fatigué (I am tired)

Verb “suis” (“am”) indicating state of being.

Il va pleuvoir (It will rain)

Compound verb “va pleuvoir” (“will rain”) indicating an event bound to happen in the future.


Verbs in French are inflicted depending on the combination of a series of factors, including: person, number, voice, tense, aspect and mood, being the last three of these the most important of all (the first referred to the point in time in which an event takes place; the second, to the “texture” –either continuous or not- of the action indicated by the verb in question; and the third, related to the verb’s indication of ability, inability, possibility, obligation, etc.).


French verbs are separated into three different categories, according to their conjugation:


1. Verbs with infinitives ending in “-er”: Representing the greater part of the total of verbs in French, this category is characterized by showing only minor differences (stemming from orthographical and phonological factors) in conjugation from one verb to another. Some actions not included in this group are “aller” (“to go”), “envoyer” (“to send”), and “renvoyer” (“to return”), the latter two being irregular verbs.


2. Verbs with infinitives ending in “-ir” or “-ïr”, and present participles finished in “-issant” or “ïssant”: Encompassing about 300 words, the verbs in this category are also conjugated similarly to one another. The verb “maudire” (“to curse”) is also part of this group, despite its spelling.


3. All the rest, which includes verbs like “aller”, “envoyer”, “renvoyer”, “maudire”, as well as all those which infinitives end in “-re” (for example:  “admettre” / “to admit”, “apparaître” / “to appear”, etc). Despite this being a rather small category, in comparison to the other two, it includes some of the most common verbs in French.


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