Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 32): les verbes terminent par -er (1er groupe, conjugaison au présent)


There are five main kinds of verbs in French: regular -ER, -IR, -RE; stem-changing; and irregular. Learning the rules of conjugation for each of the first three kinds of verbs will make it easier to conjugate regular verbs in each of those categories. Even more, the majority of French verbs are -ER verbs.

The verb form that ends in – ER is called the infinitive (in English, the infinitive is the verb preceded by the word “to”), and -ER is the infinitive ending. The verb with the infinitive ending removed is called the stem or radical. To conjugate -ER verbs, remove the infinitive ending to find the stem and add the endings accordingly.

To conjugate an -ER verb, remove the infinitive ending and then add the appropriate endings. For example, here are the present tense conjugations for the regular -ER verbs parler (to speak), donner (to give), and visiter (to visit):

Pronoun Ending parler > parl- donner > donn- visiter > visit-
je – e parle donne visite
tu – es parles donnes visites
il, elle, on – e parle donne visite
nous – ons parlons donnons visitons
vous – ez parlez donnez visitez
ils, elles – ent parlent donnent visitent

Regular -ER verbs share conjugation patterns in all tenses and moods.

French regular -ER verbs, by far the largest group of French verbs, share a conjugation pattern. Here are just a few of the most common regular -ER verbs:

aimer to like, to love
arriver to arrive, to happen
chanter to sing
chercher to look for
commencer* to begin
danser to dance
demander to ask for
dépenser to spend (money)
détester to hate
donner to give
écouter to listen to
étudier** to study
fermer to close
goûter to taste
jouer to play
laver to wash
manger* to eat
nager* to swim
parler to talk, to speak
passer to pass, spend (time)
penser to think
porter to wear, to carry
rêver to dream
sembler to seem
skier* to ski
travailler to work
trouver to find
visiter to visit (a place)
voler to fly, to steal

* All regular -ER verbs are conjugated according to the regular -ER verb conjugation pattern, except for one small irregularity in verbs that end in -ger and -cer, which are known as spelling-change verbs.
**Though conjugated just like regular -ER verbs, watch out for verbs that end in -IER.

All verbs ending in -er are regular except: (1) aller, which means “to go,” envoyer, which means “to send”; and (2) a small number of verbs where the irregularity takes the form of minor spelling adjustments necessitated by changes in stress in pronunciation. Regarding the latter, a number of otherwise regular -er verbs make minor changes to spelling or use accents to reflect changes in stress.

For example, the verb acheter (to buy) is pronounced ach’ter in its infinitive form and in other forms with a similar rhythm of pronounciation (achetons, achetais, acheté, etc.) However, in some forms of acheter, the second syllable is stressed, and in this case the stress is indicated by the inclusion of a grave accent: achète, achèterai. Stress of this sort is generally present when the following pattern occurs at the end of the verb’s stem: e + consonant + e. Where this happens, the stress is sometimes indicated by an accent (or by the change of an accent from acute to grave), and sometimes by doubling the final consonant, as in the case of projeter (to project). This verb is pronounced proj’ter in its infinitive form, but in cases where the stress is placed on the second syllable the effect is achieved by doubling the consonant, to give projette.

All conjugations show only in present tense here:

acheter meaning “to buy” (or other examples: geler meaning “to freeze”, peler meaning “to peel”)

j’achète nous achetons
tu achètes vous achetez
il/elle/on achète ils/elles achètent

jeter meaning “to throw” (or other examples: appeler meaning “to call,” rejeter meaning “to reject”)

j’jette nous jetons
tu jettes vous jetez
il/elle/on jette ils/elles jettent

céder meaning “to yield” (other examples: espérer meaning “to hope,” déléguer meaning “to delegate,” accélér meaning “to accelerate”)

j’cède nous cédons
tu cèdes vous cédez
il/elle/on cède ils/elles cèdent

Verbs with inifinitives in -yer, -cer, and -ger…

payer meaning “to pay” (other examples: ennuyer meaning “to annoy,” appuyer meaning “to lean”)

je paie nous payons
tu paies vous payez
il/elle/on paie ils/elles paient

commencer meaning “to begin (other examples: rincer meaning “to rinse”)

je commence nous commençons
tu commences vous commencez
il/elle/on commence ils/elles commencent

manger meaning “to eat” (other examples: déranger meaning “to disturb,” plonger meaning “to dive”)

je mange nous mangeons
tu manges vous mangez
il/elle/on mange ils/elles mangent

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