French -ER verbs (present tense)

Overview

One thing English speakers who are learning French struggle with is learning how to conjugate all the different verbs. Most French verbs typically end in -er, -re, or -ir. The biggest group is verbs that end in -er. Verbs that fall into this group that follow the same conjugation pattern are called regular -er verbs. If an infinitive in French ends in -er, it means the verb belongs to the first conjugation, for example, donner, aimer, parler. To know which form of the verb to use in French, you need to work out what the stem of the verb is and then add the correct ending. The stem of-er verbs in the present tense is formed by taking the infinitive and chopping off -er.

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The verb of a sentence indicates some sort of action taking place. In French, some of the most common verbs end with the letters –er.

There are two ways to translate a singular present-tense French verb into English. Look at the examples below using the French verbs,  parler (to talk) and regarder (to watch).

FrenchEnglish

Il parle à un ami.                                 He talks to a friend.

                                                            He is talking to a friend.

 Je regarde un film.                             He watches a movie.

                                                            He is watching a movie.

Notice how in French, the words “is talking” and “is watching” are not directly translated from English. Instead, the verbs parle and regarde translate automatically as such.

How to Conjugate an -ER Verb

Step 1: Choose the appropriate verb for the sentence. The verb with the -er still attached is called the infinitive.

Step 2: Remove the –er from the infinitive. Now you have the stem of the verb.

Step 3: Add the -er verb ending that corresponds with the subject of your sentence. These are listed below.

SubjectAdd to stem
Jee
Tues
Il/Elle/One
Nousons
Vousez
Ils/Ellesent

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