Verbs – Irregular Verbs

Verbs – Irregular Verbs Part 1

Many French verbs do not follow the conjugation patterns as regular French verbs. These are called irregular verbs.

 

Aller, avoir, être, faire, prendre

Aller

Most irregular verbs have infinitives ending in –ir, -re, or –oir. The only irregular verb with an infinitive ending in –er is allerto go.

Aller to go

Je vais

Tu vas

Il/Elle/On va

Nous allons

Vous allez

Ils/Elles vont

Aller is frequently followed by a phrase of place that begins with à or en.

  • Aller à la campagne – To go to the countryside
  • Aller à Paris – To go to Paris
  • Aller en classe – To go to class
  • Aller en Champagne – To go to Champagne (the region)

French does not distinguish between location and motion toward with geographical names.

  • Je suis à Paris – I’m in Paris
  • Je vais à Paris – I’m going to Paris

Note that the same preposition is used for both.

Stuff to know:

  1. Use en before feminine names of countries: en France, en Angleterre, en Allemagne, en Russie, en Chine.
  2. Use à + the definite article before masculine and plural names of countries: aux Etats-Unis, au Canada, au Mexique, au Portugal, au Danemark, aux Pays-Bas.
  3. Use à before names of cities: à Paris, à New York, à Londres, à Berlin, à Moscou.
  4. Use à + the definite article before names of cities that have a definite article as part of their name: au Havre, au Caire, à la Nouvelle-Orléans.

 

Avoir and être

I covered these topics in previous posts, so for the sake of not being redundant, you can head over here to refresh avoir, and here to refresh être.

Faire

The verb faireto do, make, is one of the most common verbs in French.

Faireto do, make

Je fais

Tu fais

Il/Elle/On fait

Nous faisons

Vous faites

Ils/Elles font

  • Faire de la chimie – to study/take chemistry
  • Faire la cuisine – to do the cooking
  • Faire la grasse matinée – to sleep late/oversleep
  • Faire une promenade – to take a walk
  • Quel temps fait-il ? – What’s the weather?
  • Il fait nuit – it’s dark out
  • Faire l’idiot – to act like an idiot

Prendre

The verb prendre means to take. Prendre looks like a regular –re verb by its infinitive, but its conjugation is irregular. Note that the singular forms of conjugation resemble those of regular –re verbs.

Prendreto take

Je prends

Tu prends

Il/Elle/On prend

Nous prenons

Vous prenez

Ils/Elles prennent

Prendre expresses the consumption of food and drink. English uses have for this meaning, but French does not use avoir in this sense. Example:

  • J’ai du jus d’orange. – I have orange juice. (ex: in the refrigerator)
  • Je prends du jus d’orange. – I’m having/drinking orange juice.

Prendre is also used with the names of meals:

  • Je prends le petit déjeuner chez moi. – I have breakfast at home.

Prendre can also mean to buy, especially with food.

  • Elle prend son pain chez ce boulanger-là. – She buys her food at that baker’s.
  • Je descends prendre du pain. – I’m going out to buy some bread.
  • Nous prenons des billets de théâtre. – We’re buying theatre tickets.

Prendre is used in giving directions.

  • Prenez la deuxième rue à droite jusqu’à la place. – Turn right on the second street and keep on going up to the square.
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