French is not too difficult a language to learn. There are a lot of funny sounds you have to make that English native tongues just aren’t used to; but other than that it’s just like any other language. There are several crucial parts to a sentence that make it “complete”, the subject, verb, and noun. Verbs are words that describe something happening, in other words, an action word. Things like running, eating, and sleeping are verbs. Just like in English, sometimes these verbs are used metaphorically or are used loosely which can make some French phrases confusing. In English, we may something like “I’m going to sleep on it” when talking about thinking something over. We aren’t actually going to sleep on anything, but it’s a common phrase nonetheless. Some of these French verbs can be used in similar fashion. You can learn more about French grammar and phrases in this French Grammar for Beginners course. It may help give you a more solid foundation of these types of scenarios.
In all languages verbs are conjugated to apply them to the subject of the sentence. So when you say I swim every day, swim is the verb being conjugated. If you are going to talk about your friend Katie, then you would conjugate the verb to fit Katie, or a female. In English swim just gets an “s” on the end for the conjugation of he/she/it. So, Katie swims every day. French conjugations (like most languages) have regular and irregular verbs. Regular verbs will follow some set of rules when you change it from I to we to him. Irregular verbs are a whole different ball game. These verbs take a number of different forms and there are really no good ways to remember them except to memorize and use them in your everyday speech. You’ll see that some of the verbs below don’t look like the root verb (i.e. swim), that means the verb is irregular. Number 2, aller, is a good example of this. Here are some tips to help you learn French fast.
40 French Verbs
1. Acheter – to buy
- J’ achète du pain tous les jours. –> I bought bread every day.
- -Achète is the past participle of the verb acheter.
2. Aller– to go
- Je vais gagner. –> I’m going to win.
- -Vais is actually a conjugation of aller, even though they seem completely different. This is because it’s an irregular verb.
3. Appeler – to call
- Je m’appelle Laurie. –> I am called Laurie (my name is Laurie).
4. Apprendre – to learn
- J’aimerais apprendre à mieux te connaître. –> I would like to get to know you better.
5. Avoir – to have
- J’aimerais avoir 20 dollars. –> I would like to have $20.
6. Chanter – to sing
- Les petits oiseaux chantent. –> The little birds sing.
7. Comprendre – to understand
- Comprenez-vous –> Do you understand?
8. Corriger – to correct
- Corrige les phrases suivantes. –> Correct the following sentences.
9. Croire – to believe
- Je n’en crois rien. –> I don’t believe a word of it.
10. Demander – to ask for
- Il a demandé une pomme. –> He asked for an apple.
11. Dire – to say, tell
- Je n’ai rien dit. –> I didn’t say anything.
- Dit is a conjugated form of dire.
12. Envoyer – to send
- Pouvez-vous l’envoyer à cette adresse? –> Could you send it to this address?
13. Essayer – to try
- Je vais essayer d’expliquer. –> I will try to explain.
14. Être – to be
- Nous sommes très contents. –> We are very happy.
- Sommes is the conjugated form of Être for the pronoun we.
15. Faire –to do, make
- Je fais mon lit. –> I am making my bed.
16. Falloir – to be necessary
- Il faut. –> It is necessary.
17. Goût – to taste
- Elle a très bon goût. –> She’s got very good taste.
18. Ignorer – to ignore
- Je ne vois pas comment vous pouvez ignorer ça. –> I don’t see how you can ignore this.
19. Laver – to wash
- se laver le visage –> to wash ones face
20. Manger – to eat
- manger à la carte –> eat à la carte
21. Monter – to climb
- Est-ce que ces étagères sont difficiles à monter? –> Are these shelves difficult to put up?
- Here, monter is used a little differently than to climb, here it means to assemble.
22. Nager – to swim
- Mark ne sait pas nager. –> Mark can’t swim at all.
23. Neiger – to snow
- Il a neigé deux fois cette hiver. –> We’ve had snow twice this winter.
24. Noter – to write down
- Tu as noté leur adresse? –> Did you make note of their address?
25. Porter – to wear, to carry
- Il portait une valise. –> He was carrying a suitcase.
26. Pouvoir – to be able
- Je n’ai pas pu le réparer. –> I couldn’t repair it.
27. Prendire – to take/ to get
- Il m’a pris mon stylo! –> He took my pen!
- J’ai pris du lait en rentrant. –> I got some milk on the way home.
- Pris is the conjugation of Prendire for the he pronoun.
28. Promener – to take for a walk
- Sarah promène son chien tous les jours. –> Sarah takes her dog for a walk every day.
29. Regarder – to look at
- Je regarde la télévision. –> I’m watching television.
30. Regretter – to regret
- Je ne regrette rien. –> I have no regrets.
31. Risquer – to risk
- Il a risqué de se tuer. –> He almost got himself killed.
32. Savoir – to know
- Pas que je sache. à Not as far as I know.
33. Sentir – to feel/ to smell
- Ça t’a fait mal? –> Did it hurt?
- Ça sent bon ici. –> It smells good in here.
- It seems weird that you can use the same word for an overall feeling, and for a smell – but you can! Odorat means sense of smell.
34. Souhaiter – to wish
- Nous vous souhaitons une bonne année. –> We wish you a happy New Year.
35. Tenir – to hold
- Tu peux tenir la lampe, s’il te plaît? –> Can you hold the torch, please?
36. Terminer – to end
- Je viens juste de terminer une lettre. –> I have just finished writing the letter.
37. Tomber – to fall
- Il ne laisse jamais tomber ses amis. –> He never lets his friends down.
- Tomber enceinte means to get pregnant, or to fall pregnant.
38. Trier – to sort
- Je vais trier mes papiers avant de partir. –> I’m going to sort out my papers before I go.
39. Voir – to see
- D’ici, on voit mieux. –> You can see better from here.
40. Vouloir – to want
- Elle en veux trois. –> She wants three of them.
These 40 verbs include some of the most commonly used verbs in the French language. It also includes some obscure ones (like, “to take for a walk”) that you may not need to use on a daily basis; or there may be another synonymous verbs more popular. However, getting a good understanding and pronunciation of these verbs is going to benefit your French education tremendously. Want to learn more? If you’re at the beginner level you can check out this great course for French beginners. If you’re at the not quite a beginner, but not quite at the intermediate level, there’s a course for you too. It’s Beginner French Part Two and you can apply some of the verbs you just learned! These are great tools to help you as you dive further into the language.