French Grammar

French irregular verbs ending in -ir and -er

The groups, the everyday verbs, the key tenses and the key points

Irregular verbs ending in -ir

There are a number of important French irregular verbs ending in -ir. These are conjugated differently from the majority of group 2 verbs in -ir, which are conjugated on the model of finir.
Among the most common irregular verbs ending in -ir are dormir, mentir, mourir, ouvrir, tenir, sentir, servir , sortirand verbs based on these.
There are two main groups: verbs conjugated like sortir and verbs conjugated like ouvrir
Other irregular verbs in -ir need to be learned individually.

1. Verbs on the model of sortir

Key verbs in this group are démentir, dormir, mentir, partir, sentir, servir, sortir
Sample verb sortir
Present tense: SingularPlural
1stJe sorsNous sortons
2ndTu sorsVous sortez
3rdIl sortIls sortent

Other tenses Future: Je sortirai. Preterite: Je sortis. Perfect: Je suis sorti. Imperfect: Je sortais
* Note: perfect tense of other verbs uses the auxiliary avoir, as in : J'ai dormi

2. Verbs on the model of ouvrir

This small group only contains a few relatively common verbs couvrir, découvrir, offrir, ouvrir, souffrir,
Sample verb couvrir
Present tense: SingularPlural
1stJe couvreNous couvrons
2ndTu couvresVous couvrez
3rdIl couvreIls couvrent

Other tenses Future: Je couvrirai. Preterite: Je couvris. Perfect: J'ai couvert. Imperfect: Je couvrais

3. Tenir and Venir

and verbs based on these, such as soutenir, parvenir
Sample verb tenir
Present tense: SingularPlural
1stJe tiensNous tenons
2ndTu tiensVous tenez
3rdIl tientIls tiennent

Other tenses Future: Je tiendrai. Preterite: Je tins. Perfect: J'ai tenu. Imperfect: Je tenais

Irregular verbs ending in -er

Some 90% of French verbs end in -er. Basically speaking, they are all regular verbs. However, there are a few irregularities which are really no more than changes of spelling, such as a single or double consonant depending on the verb form.
Among common -er verbs whose spelling varies according to the form used are  acheter, appeler, manger, lancer and verbs similar these.
There are two main groups: 1. Those like acheter or jeter which may double the consonant or replace e with è, and: 2. Verbs conjugated like manger or lancer where the e is maintained, or the c becomes a ç before a hard vowel ( a or o).

1a. Verbs like appeler

These verbs double the final consonant before an ending beginning with a silent e. Among key verbs in this group are appeler, épeler, étiqueter, jeter, projeter
Sample verb s'appeler
Present tense: SingularPlural
1stJe m'appelleNous nous appelons
2ndTu t'appellesVous vous appelez
3rdIl s'appelleIls s'appellent

Other tenses Future: Je m'appellerai. Preterite: Je m'appelai. Perfect: Je me suis appelé. Imperfect: Je m'appelais

1b. Verbs like acheter

These verbs replace e with è before an ending beginning with a silent e. The principal verbs in this group are acheter, déceler, geler, harceler, marteler, peler, receler
Sample verb acheter
Present tense: SingularPlural
1stJ'achèteNous achetons
2ndTu achètesVous achetez
3rdIl achèteIls achètent

Other tenses Future: J'achèterai. Preterite: J'achetai. Perfect: J'ai acheté. Imperfect: J'achetais

2a. Verbs like manger

With these verbs the e is maintained before an ending starting with a hard vowel. The key verbs in this group are manger, changer, nager, engager, interroger, diriger, corriger, juger, encourager, échanger, exiger, envisager, rédiger, plonger, déranger, charger, mélanger, partager,voyager
Sample verb manger
Present tense: SingularPlural
1stJe mangeNous mangeons
2ndTu mangesVous mangez
3rdIl mangeIls mangent

Other tenses Future: Je mangerai. Preterite: Je mangeai. Perfect: J'ai mangé. Imperfect: Je mangeais

2b. Verbs like lancer

With these verbs the c becomes a ç before an ending starting with a hard vowel. The key verbs in this group are lancer, commencer, annoncer, balancer, avancer, déplacer, forcer, menacer, remplacer, effacer, exercer, percer, foncer, divorcer, financer, grincer, amorcer, énoncer, pincer, renoncer, tracer, prononcer
Sample verb lancer
Present tense: SingularPlural
1stJe lanceNous lançons
2ndTu lancesVous lancez
3rdIl lanceIls lancent

Other tenses Future: Je lancerai. Preterite: Je lançai. Perfect: J'ai lancé. Imperfect: Je lançais

► Return to : The 12 key irregular verbs
► Continue to Irregular verbs 3: Irregular verbs ending in -re
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