How to form the present tense

All French verbs end in one of three ways:

  • -er verbs, like parler - to talk
  • -ir verbs, like choisir - to choose
  • -re verbs, like vendre - to sell

These are called infinitives – it means they are verbs in the form you would find them in the dictionary with their meanings listed as to talk, to choose, to sell, etc.

We simply cannot take a verb and put it alongside a subject pronoun and expect it to mean what we want it to say, eg: ‘Je jouer au foot’ is wrong as this would mean ‘I to play football’.

Therefore, we have to conjugate it. Conjugate means changing the infinitive to match the subject pronoun, (ie who we are talking about: I, you, they?) and the tense we are talking about (are we talking about what’s happening now or in the future or in the past?)

Different subject pronouns and tenses require different endings to be put onto the end of verbs.