Le présent: the present tense in French grammar (2023)

  • When to use le présent
  • How to conjugate the present tense in French
  • -er Verbs
  • Type 1 -ir Verbs
  • Type 2 -ir Verbs
  • -re Verbs
  • -oir Verbs
  • Important Irregular Verbs: avoir, être, aller and faire
  • Online exercises to improve your French
  • Lingolia Plus French

Just here for the exercises? Click here.

What is le présent?

The present tense in French grammar (le présent) corresponds to the English simple present. It talks about facts, current situations and repeated actions in the present, as well as scheduled future actions. To conjugate a verb in the French present tense, we add specific endings to the infinitive of the verb depending on whether it ends in -er, -ir or -re.

Learn all about le présent in French grammar with Lingolia’s quick and easy examples, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Example

Le présent: the present tense in French grammar (1)

Le garçon s’appelle Félix. Tous les mardis, il va à l’entraînement de football. Il joue au football depuis cinq ans.

Mardi prochain à 14 heures, son équipe a un match important.

When to use le présent

We use the French present tense to express:

  • facts and ongoing situations in the present
Example:
Le garçon s’appelle Félix.The boy is called Félix.
  • actions that happen once, multiple times or never in the present
Example:
Tous les mardis, il va à l’entraînement de football.He goes to football training every Tuesday..
  • a future action that is already planned or agreed upon (requires a specific future time indicator)
Example:
Mardi prochain à 14 heures, son équipe a un match important.His team has an important match next Tuesday at 2 o’clock.
  • the duration of actions that started in the past and are ongoing in the present.
    Note: French uses the present tense to express this idea, but English talks about duration using the present perfect simple or continuous tenses.
Example:
Il joue au football depuis cinq ans.He’s been playing football for five years..
here il joue = he’s been playing or he’s played

How to conjugate the present tense in French

To conjugate French verbs in the present tense, we remove the infinitive ending (-er, -ir or -re) and add the following endings:

(Video) Le Présent de l'indicatif

Person-er VerbsType 1
-ir
Verbs
Type 2
-ir Verbs
-re Verbs
1st person singular (I)-e-is-s-s
2nd person singular (you)-es-is-s-s
3rd person singular (he/she/it)-e-it-t-t / –
1st person plural (we)-ons-issons-ons-ons
2nd person plural (you)-ez-issez-ez-ez
3rd person plural (they)-ent-issent-ent-ent

-er Verbs

The table below shows the present tense conjugation of -er verbs:

PersonEndingaimerchanter
1st person singular (I)-ej’aimeje chante
2nd person singular (you)-estu aimestu chantes
3rd person singular (he/she/it)-eil/elle/on aimeil/elle/on chante
1st person plural (we)-onsnous aimonsnous chantons
2nd person plural (you)-ezvous aimezvous chantez
3rd person plural (they)-entils/elles aimentils/elles chantent

Spelling Rules and Exceptions

  • For verbs ending in -ger, we add an e before the letter o in the nous form in order to preserve the pronunciation of the g.
Example:
mangereat - je mange, tu manges, il/elle/on mange, nous mangeons, vous mangez, ils/elles mangent
  • For verbs ending in -cer, the c becomes ç before the letter o in the nous form in order to preserve pronunciation.
Example:
lancerthrow - je lance, tu lances, il/elle/on lance, nous lançons, vous lancez, ils/elles lancent
  • For verbs ending in -yer, the y becomes an i in the singular forms as well as in the 3rd person plural. (For verbs ending in -ayer, we can write either i or y.)
Examples:
envoyersend - j'envoie, tu envoies, il envoie, nous envoyons, vous envoyez, ils/elles envoient
payerpay - je paye/paie
  • For many verbs that end in -eler or -eter, the final consonant is doubled before a silent e.
    (Exceptions: acheterbuy, décelerdiscover, gelerfreeze, haleterpant, harcelerharass, modelermodel, pelerpeel)
Examples:
jeterthrow away – il jette
appelercall – il appelle
(but: acheter - j'achète)
  • If the final syllable of the word stem contains an e or é, we give it a grave accent (accent grave) in its conjugated forms (apart from the 1st and 2nd person plural).
Example:
peserweigh - je pèse, tu pèses, il/elle/on pèse, nous pesons, vous pesez, ils/elles pèsent
acheterbuy - j'achète, tu achètes, il/elle/on achète, nous achetons, vous achetez, ils/elles achètent
cédergive in - je cède, tu cèdes, il/elle/on cède, nous cédons, vous cédez, ils/elles cèdent
  • Remember: the verb aller is irregular.
Example:
allergo - je vais, tu vas, il/elle/on va, nous allons, vous allez, ils/elles vont

Type 1 -ir Verbs

The majority of -ir verbs belong to type 1, which means that the plural forms add -iss- before the present tense endings:

PersonEndingfiniragir
1st person singular (I)-isje finisj’agis
2nd person singular (you)-istu finistu agis
3rd person singular (he/she/it)-itil/elle/on finitil/elle/on agit
1st person plural (we)-issonsnous finissonsnous agissons
2nd person plural (you)-issezvous finissezvous agissez
3rd person plural (they)-issentils/elles finissentils/elles agissent

Many common verbs are conjugated in this way: applaudirapplaud, choisirchoose, divertiramuse, fleurirbloom, grandirgrow, grossirput on weight, guérircure, haïrhate, maigrirlose weight, nourrirnourish/feed, obéirobey, pâlirgo pale, punirpunish, ralentirslow down, remplir(re)fill, réjouircelebrate, réunirmeet, réussirsucceed, rougirblush, saisirgrasp, vieillirto age, etc.

Type 2 -ir Verbs

Type 2 -ir verbs can be divided into two kinds: verbs that are conjugated in the same way as -er verbs, and verbs that are conjugated with -s/-s/-t in the singular forms

PersonEndingoffrir*Endingdormir**
1st person singular (I)-ej’offre-sje dors
2nd person singular (you)-estu offres-stu dors
3rd person singular (he/she/it)-eil/elle/on offre-til/elle/on dort
1st person plural (we)-onsnous offrons-onsnous dormons
2nd person plural (you)-ezvous offrez-ezvous dormez
3rd person plural (they)-entils/elles offrent-entils/elles dorment

*Other verbs that follow the same conjugation include: accueillirwelcome, couvrircover, cueillirgather, découvrirdiscover, ouvriropen, souffrirsuffer, etc.

**Other verbs that follow the same conjugation include: courirrun, fuirrun away, mentirlie, partirleave, sentirfeel, servirserve, sortirgo out, etc.

(Video) When to use the Present Tense in French // French Conjugation Course // Lesson 2

Note: the verbs venir and tenir are completely irregular.

Examples:
venircome - je viens, tu viens, il/elle/on vient, nous venons, vous venez, ils/elles viennent
tenirhold - je tiens, tu tiens, il/elle/on tient, nous tenons, vous tenez, ils/elles tiennent

-re Verbs

Regular -re verbs are conjugated as follows:

PersonEndingconstruire*vivre**
1st person singular (I)-sje construisje vis
2nd person singular (you)-stu construistu vis
3rd person singular (he/she/it)-til/elle/on construitil/elle/on vit
1st person plural (we)-onsnous construisonsnous vivons
2nd person plural (you)-ezvous construisezvous vivez
3rd person plural (they)-entils/elles construisentils/elles vivent

* The following verbs are conjugated in the same way as construire: conduiredrive, cuirecook, déduirededuce, détruiredestroy, instruireinstruct, introduireintroduce, nuireharm, produireproduce, reproduirereproduce, réduirereduce, séduireseduce, traduiretranslate.

** The following verbs are conjugated in the same way as vivre: suivrefollow, poursuivrechase, revivrerelive, survivresurvive.

Spelling Rules & Exceptions

  • Verbs ending in -aître (traditional spelling) or -aitre (official spelling since 1990) such as connaître/connaitreknow, paraître/paraitreappear, naître/naitrebe born and their variations such as reconnaître/reconnaitrerecognise, disparaître/disparaitredisappear, renaître/renaitrebe reborn are conjugated as follows:
    Example:
    connaîtreknow – je connais, tu connais, il/elle/on connaît, nous connaissons, vous connaissez, ils/elles connaissent
  • Many verbs that end in -ire (boiredrink, croirebelieve, diresay, écrirewrite, fairedo/make, lireread, plaireplease, rirelaugh ...) are irregular and change their stem in the plural forms. There is no general rule to learn the conjugations of these verbs, it’s best to learn them by heart.

    Examples:
    boiredrink - je bois, tu bois, il/elle/on boit, nous buvons, vous buvez, ils/elles boivent
    croirebelieve - je crois, tu crois, il/elle/on croit, nous croyons, vous croyez, ils/elles croient
    écrirewrite - j’écris, tu écris, il/elle/on écrit, nous écrivons, vous écrivez, ils/elles écrivent
    lireread - je lis, tu lis, il/elle/on lit, nous lisons, vous lisez, ils/elles lisent

Verbs that end in -dre and -tre

PersonEndingvendremettre
1st person singular (I)-sje vendsje mets
2nd person singular (you)-stu vendstu mets
3rd person singular (he/she/it)il/elle/on vendil/elle/on met
1st person plural (we)-onsnous vendonsnous mettons
2nd person plural (you)-ezvous vendezvous mettez
3rd person plural (they)-entils/elles vendentils/elles mettent

Exceptions

  • The verb prendretake and its related forms apprendrelearn, comprendreunderstand, surprendresurprise, etc. lose the d in their plural forms.
    In addition, the n is doubled in the ils/elles form.

    Example:
    prendretake – je prends, tu prends, il/elle/on prend, nous prenons, vous prenez, ils/elles prennent.
  • Verbs that end in -indre (atteindrewait, craindrefear, éteindreturn off, joindrecombine, peindrepaint, plaindrepity, teindredye ...) lose the d in the singular and plural forms.
    In addition, we transform the n to gn in the plural forms.

    Example:
    peindrepaint – je peins, tu peins, il/elle/on peint, nous peignons, vous peignez, ils/elles peignent

-oir Verbs

Verbs that end in -oir such as recevoirreceive, apercevoirglimpse, concevoirdesign, décevoirdisappoint, percevoirperceive are conjugated as follows:

(Video) The Present Tense in French | le temps présent

PersonEndingrecevoir
1st person singular (I)-sje reçois
2nd person singular (you)-stu reçois
3rd person singular (he/she/it)-til/elle/on reçoit
1st person plural (we)-onsnous recevons
2nd person plural (you)-ezvous recevez
3rd person plural (they)-entils/elles reçoivent

Note: the verbs avoirhave, devoirmust, mouvoirmove, pouvoirbe able to, savoirknow, voirsee und vouloirwant are irregular and are not conjugated in the same way as recevoir. Check out their conjugations on our page on irregular verbs in French and practise in the exercises.

Important Irregular Verbs: avoir, être, aller and faire

Personavoirêtreallerfaire
1st person singular (I)j’aije suisje vaisje fais
2nd person singular (you)tu astu estu vastu fais
3rd person singular (he/she/it)il/elle/on ail/elle/on estil/elle/on vail/elle/on fait
1st person plural (we)nous avonsnous sommesnous allonsnous faisons
2nd person plural (you)vous avezvous êtesvous allezvous faites
3rd person plural (they)ils/elles ontils/elles sontils/elles vontils/elles font

Le présent continu: the present progressive in French

The présent continu, also known as the présent progressif or the présent duratif, is the French equivalent of the present progressive in English (I am doing, he is going, etc.). Like its English counterpart, it demonstrates that an action or event is in progress at the moment of speaking.

The présent continu is formed as follows:

present tense conjugation of être + en train de + infinitive

Examples:
Nous sommes en train de dîner.We’re having dinner.
Les joueurs sont en train de perdre le match.The players are losing the match.
Je suis en train de repeindre ma chambre.I’m repainting my room.

FAQs

What is an example of present tense in French? ›

The French present tense is used when talking about:

Le train vient tous les jours.” – The train comes everyday.

What is the present tense in French? ›

The French present tense is called “le présent“.

What are the 20 examples of simple present tense? ›

20 Sentences in Simple Present Tense
  • I go to the President's House.
  • Sun rises in the East.
  • He takes a bath once a month.
  • She takes selfies.
  • They take the bribe.
  • We speak lie.
  • It rains every day in Assam.
  • You eat Pizza every weekend.

What are 10 examples of present tense? ›

Simple Present Tense Examples Used to Denote Habitual Actions
  • Raj eats bread and butter before going to school.
  • Emma watches cartoons every day.
  • Izzy drinks milk every night before going to bed.
  • Johnny goes to the gym daily.
  • We go to school daily.
  • Smita reads the newspaper every day.

What are the 5 present tense? ›

There are four types of present tense: the present simple, present continuous, present perfect and present perfect continuous.

What are the formulas of present tense? ›

Present Tense- Structure

Subject + base form of the verb/verb+s/es(if needed) + rest of the sentence. Subject + have/has + past participle (third form of the verb) + rest of the sentence.

What is the easiest way to identify tenses? ›

For example, in the simple present tense, the verb takes the marker –s when the subject is a singular noun or pronoun. In the present continuous tense, the verb takes the auxiliary is when the subject is third person singular noun or pronoun. It takes the auxiliary verb are when the subject is a plural noun or pronoun.

What is simple Prsent tense? ›

We use the simple present tense when an action is happening right now, or when it happens regularly (or unceasingly, which is why it's sometimes called present indefinite). Depending on the person, the simple present tense is formed by using the root form or by adding –s or –es to the end. I feel great!

What are the 4 types of present tense? ›

There are four main types or forms of the present tense in the English language, namely,
  • Simple Present Tense.
  • Present Continuous Tense.
  • Present Perfect Tense.
  • Present Perfect Continuous Tense.

What is an example of a present tense sentence? ›

Bill writes the letters. Peter is coming to our place. Bob has given the book to Allen. I am going to the varsity.

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4. FRENCH GRAMMAR - THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS IN FRENCH
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