• A verb is a doing word that describes what someone or something does, is or what happens to them, for example, to be, to walk, to live.
  • Verbs are usually used with a noun, pronoun or somebody’s name.
  • Verbs can relate to the present, past and future. This is called a tense.
  • Verbs can be regular (follow normal rules) or irregular (don’t follow the normal rules).
  • Regular English verbs have a base form. The base form is the form of the verb without any endings added to it, for example, sing. When the base form has a to in front of it, for example, to sing, it is referred to as the infinitive. This will always be the form you find when you look it up in a dictionary.
  • French verbs also have an infinitive. There are three main verb groups in French: those ending in ER, IR or RE. These are called conjugations. For example, parler (to speak), finir (to finish) and prendre (to take).
  • English verbs have other forms of the verb apart from the base form and infinitive: forms ending in -s, -ing and -ed.
  • French verbs have more forms than English ones. French verbs are made up of endings added to a stem. The stem can usually be worked out from the infinitive.
  • French verb endings change depending on who you are talking about: je (I), tu (you), il/elle/on (he/she/one) in the singular, nous (we), vous (you) and ils/elles (they) in the plural.
  • French verbs also have different forms depending on whether you are referring to the past, present or future.
  • Some French verbs do not follow the normal rules. These include some very important ones like AVOIR (to have), ETRE (to be), FAIRE (to do) and ALLER (to go).

The present tense

  • The present tense is used to talk about:

* what is happening now

For example: I am talking to you, it’s snowing

* what is true

For example: I’m a mum, it’s a beautiful town

* what regularly happens/habit

For example: I go to the market on Thursdays, it’s always cold at Christmas

  • In English, there is more than one way to the express the present tense. For example, I speak, I am speaking or I do speak. In French, you use the same form for all of these.
  • In English, you can use the present tense to talk about something that is going to happen in the near future. You can so the same in French.


For example: I’m going to England at Christmas (Je vais en Angleterre pour Noel).


  • In English, we sometimes use parts of the verb to be to form the present tense of other verbs. In French, we never do this. For example: I am talking (je parle NOT je suis parle).












Irregular verbs in the present tense


Four very important French verbs that are irregular in French.

If you try and work out why, you will be there forever. My advice is just to learn these four verbs in the present tense by heart as they are basic ones that you need to know right from the early days.


                             AVOIR                               ETRE                                 FAIRE                                 ALLER

                             (to have)                          (to be)                              (to do)                              (to go)



Je                         j’ai                                      suis                                    fais                                     vais

Tu                        as                                       es                                       fais                                     vas

Il/elle/on            a                                         est                                      fait                                      va

Nous                   avons                                 sommes                            faisons                               allons

Vous                    avez                                   êtes                                    faites                                  allez

Ils/elles               ont                                     sont                                    font                                    vont