4.2 Formation of the present tense

4.2.0 Pronouns and verb classification

First of all we need the French personal pronouns, most of them you have already seen in the previous chapters, here you find them all at a glance.

  French personal pronouns
je I 1st person singular
    tu you 2nd person singular
    il he 3rd person singular masculine
    elle she 3rd person singular feminine
    nous we 1st person plural
    vous you 2nd person plural
    ils they (masculine) 3rd person plural masculine
    elles they (feminine) 3rd person plural feminine

When discussing the conjugation of French verbs we first have to have a look at the classification of verbs, there are regular verbs (verbes réguliers), that follow a certain pattern and irregular verbs (verbes irréguliers), that do not follow this pattern. Of course, most of the verbs are regular. And even within the irregulars there are certain patterns. For the irregular ones there are verb tables that are quite useful and we recommend to get one of these, that will help enormously in the future. There are about 2000 verbs and 80 patterns, so there are not too many of them.

Now the big question: How to recognise a verb? Well, usually they have certain endings. There are three different typical verb endings in French: -er, -ir, -re.

Verbs ending in - er
acheter = to buy
  aller = to go
  manger = to eat
  cacher = to hide

Verbs ending in -re
  boire = to drink
  écrire = to write
  lire =to read
  conduire = to drive

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