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    French Vouloir, Pouvoir and Devoir

    Beginner+ French - Level A2

    Overview

    You’ll learn three more irregular verbs - vouloir, pouvoir, and devoir - meaning “to want,” “to be able to,” and “to have to / to owe ,” respectively

    Vocabulary

    vouloir, pouvoir, devoir

    Notre Dame Paris, France-1

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    French A2

    Vouloir, Pouvoir and Devoir

    In this unit, you’ll learn three more irregular verbs - vouloir, pouvoir, and devoir - meaning “to want,” “to be able to,” and “to have to / to owe ,” respectively. The reason why we learn verbs in groups is because they are conjugated in similar ways (like A2.1 Module 2, for example). Below you’ll find the conjugation tables for these three verbs with example sentences. Notice the similarities between the three tables. Vouloir and pouvoir are more similar to each other than they are to devoir. The other resources in this module explain their patterns separately.

    From this unit forward, you will learn the past participle with each new verb to use in the past tense. Go ahead and review the past tense, or le passé composé.

      

    Subject Pronoun

    Vouloir

    Meaning

    Je

    veux

    I want

    Tu

    veux

    You want

    Il/Elle/On

    veut

    He/She/One wants

    Nous

    voulons

    We want

    Vous

    voulez

    You want

    Ils/Elles

    veulent

    They want

     

    Past Participle: voulu

    Using vouloir in a sentence can express a particular item you want if it’s followed by a definite or indefinite article, or a particular action if it’s followed by an infinitive.

    Examples:

    Je veux une boisson.                                       I want a drink.

    Il a voulu le désert.                                         He wanted the desert.

    Nous ne voulons pas jouer aux cartes.           We don’t want to play cards.

    Elles nont pas voulu faire du shopping.        They didn’t want to do some shopping 

    Subject Pronoun

    pouvoir

    Meaning

    Je

    peux

    I can

    I am able to

    Tu

    peux

    You can

    You are able to

    Il/Elle/On

    peut

    He/She/One can

    He/She/One is able to

    Nous

    pouvons

    We can

    We are able to

    Vous

    pouvez

    You can

    You are able to

    Ils/Elles

    peuvent

    They can

    They are able to

      

    Past Participle: pu

    Most often, pouvoir is followed by an infinitive to express that one can or can not do something.

    Examples:

    Tu peux aller au cinéma.                    You can go to the movies.

    Vous ne pouvez pas partir.                 You are not able to leave.

    La petite fille a pu voir les étoiles.      The little girl was able to see the stars.

    Nous navons pas pu aller ce soir.     We were not able to go tonight.  

     

    Subject Pronoun

    Devoir*

    Meaning

    Je

    dois

    I must / I owe

    Tu

    dois

    You must/owe

    Il/Elle/On

    doit

    He/She/One must/owes

    Nous

    devons

    We must/owe

    Vous

    devez

    You must/owe

    Ils/Elles

    doivent

    They must/ower

     

    Past Participle: dû

    *The verb devoir can have several meanings. Understanding devoir depends on the context of each sentence. The translation of devoir when it means “to owe” is typically followed by a noun, while the translation that means “to have to” is typically followed by a verb.

    Examples:

    Je dois de l’argent.                                                                  I owe some money.

    Nous ne devons pas lui téléphoner jusqu'à demain.               We don’t have to call him until tomorrow.

    A la fin de la semaine, nous avons dû faire des courses.        At the end of the week, we had to do some grocery shopping.

    Elle na pas dû de livres à la bibliothèque.                            She didn’t take any books to the library.

    Additional Activities

    Review the lesson above and complete additional activities to build your understanding of this topic. For the activities listed below, log in for additional access. It's free.

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