Cecilee Linke

I can write you a story, teach you French, sing you a song.

Conjugating -er ending verbs

So far in French, we’ve been able to say some basic sentences about ourselves and asking questions. Today we are going to learn how to talk about other people using verbs that end in -er.

In English, the infinitives of verbs (i.e. verbs before they are conjugated) are simple to distinguish. They always start with the word “to.”

to run

to go

to do

to sleep

In French, verb infinitives end in one of three endings:

-er

-re

-ir

Today we are going to focus on French verbs that end in -er, which are the easiest verbs to conjugate and are also the most common.

We already know how to conjugate verbs in French from our lessons on the verbs être and avoir, two irregular but common verbs in the French language (and any language for that matter!). You know that in order to conjugate verbs, we need to first start with our subject pronoun, then follow it with the form of the verb that goes with that subject pronoun.

Je suis (I am)

Nous sommes (We are)

Tu as (You [informal] are)

Ils ont (They have)

It is the same way with conjugating -er verbs.

Some common -er verbs

 

Français English
aimer to like, to love
regarder to watch, to look at
chanter to sing
danser to dance
fréquenter to attend
étudier to study
écouter to listen to
parler to talk, to speak
penser to think
habiter to live (as in a city, state, country, etc.)

Conjugating -er verbs

1. First, remove the -er ending from the verb.

2. Then add the following endings for each subject pronoun:

 

Singular

Voice Subject pronoun Verb ending
first person singular je / j’* -e
second person singular tu -es
third person singular il / elle / on -e 

Plural

Voice Subject pronoun Verb ending
first person plural nous -ons**
second person plural vous -ez
third person plural ils / elles -ent

* If the verb begins with a vowel or an h, drop the “e” in “je” and add an apostrophe. For example, j’aime, j’habite, j’écoute, j’étudie

** For verbs that end in -ger, add an “e” only before the -ons ending. Nous mangeons, nous nageons

So let’s take the verb chanter. To conjugate that verb, we start with our subject pronouns and then put in the correct form of the verb for that subject pronoun. Note the correct endings for each form of the verb.

Chanter

je chante (I sing / am singing)

tu chantes (You [informal] sing / are singing)

il/elle/on chante (He/she/one sings / is singing)

nous chantons (We sing / are singing)

vous chantez (You [formal and plural] sing / are singing)

ils/elles chantent (They sing / are singing)

Let’s do the verb parler.

Parler

je parle (I sing / am singing)

tu parles (You sing / are singing)

il/elle/on parle (he/she/one sings / is singing)

nous parlons (we sing / are singing)

vous parlez (you [formal and plural] sing / are singing)

ils/elles parlent (they sing / are singing)

Homework

Complete the following quiz before the next class.

If you were absent in class today, click here to download the pages for today’s lesson and complete for next class in addition to the above quiz. (make sure you have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer to read and download this PDF file)

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