French Lesson 13

The Present Tense of Regular –er Verbs

When a regular -er verb is used in French the ending of the infinitive is typically dropped, and replaced with an appropriate stem

Stems for Regular -er verbs

On is a genderless third person noun which is equivalent to we, they, or people in english.

  • Oublier (to forget): Je oublie, Tu oublies, Il oublie, Vous oubliez, Nous Oublions, Elles oublient
  • Gagner (to win, to earn): Je gagne, tu gagnes, elle gagne, vous gagnez, nous gagnons, Ils gagnent

Stem Changing -er Verbs

Some -er verbs are able to change their stems due to who they are placed for or for how they are pronounced.

When changes occur for a word containing é (aigu) to è (grave) a classic example is préférer: je préfère, tu préfères, il/elle/on préfère, vous préférez, nous préférons, ils/elles préfèrent.

Some words with one l adds an extra l and becomes ll. Appeler (to call) is another classic example: j’appelle, tu appelles, il/elle/on appelle, vous appelez, nous appelons, ils/elles appellent

y to i, essayer (to try)

j’essaie, tu essaies, il/elle/on essaie, vous essayez, nous essayons, ils/elles essaient

g to ge, manger (to eat)

je mange, tu manges, il/elle/on mangent, vous mangez, nous mangeons, ils/elles mangent

e to è, acheter (to buy)

je achète, tu achètes, il/elle/on achète, vous achetons, nous achetez, ils/elles achètent

t to tt, jeter (to throw)

je jette, tu jettes, il/elle/on jette, vous jetez, nous jetons, ils/elles jettent

c to ç, placer (to place)

je place, tu places, il/elle/on place, vous places, nous plaçons, ils/elles placent

The Imperative

The imperative is a tool used in french to give commands, directions, or instructions. There a three different imperatives used. The familiar version uses the tu form of the imperative. the nous form is for a me + everyone else, and the vous form for formal or plural form.

The way to create the imperative for regular -er verbs is to remove the subject pronoun, and when using the familiar version by removing the -s

Example: Manger (to eat)

Mange, Mangez, Mangeons

Irregular Verbs: être, avoir, faire, aller

être (to be)faire (to do, to make)avoir (to have)aller (to go)
Imperativesois,soyons,soyezfais, faisons, faitesaie, ayons, ayezva, allons, allez

Aller and Faire can also be added before the infinitive of another verb. When aller is used, the english translation is to be going + infinitive, and when faire is used before the infinitive it expresses to have something done.


French nouns are always either masculine or feminine. There is no rule, but memorization to remember the gender of a noun. Most plural nouns have an s added to the singular of the noun (eg la pêche -> les pêches). If the noun already ends in an s, x, or a z the plural endings do not change.



The Indefinite Article

Un, Une, Des these are the articles that accompany nouns, and are used with non-specific sense, and they represent a, an and some in English.

When the indefinite article is negated, most of the time, the indefinites (un, une, and des) become de.

The Definite Article

Le, la, l’, and les these represent the word “the,” and when these articles are preceded by à or de they change.

  • à + le = au
  • à + les = aux
  • de + le = du
  • de + les = des
  • no contraction when la or l’ is used

The Partitive

The partitive is used when formed alongside a definite article. Therefore, it is de + the definite article. The English equivalent to this article are the words some or any.

The partitive refers to part of a whole, and in the french language must be used whenever the sentence seems to limit the quantity.

Gender is determined by the noun, and is in the same form as de with the definite article above.

When negated, it stays as de or d’ for a noun beginning in a vowel. As well as when it is expressing quantity, and it is preceding an adjective.

See below are widely expressions that use quantity:

assez de (enough), pas mal de (quite a few), beaucoup de (a lot, many, much), peu de (few), un peu de (a little), trop de (too much), tant de (so much), moins de (fewer, less), une bouteille de (a bottle of), un verre de (a glass of), une bouteille de (a bottle of), un verre de (a glass of), une tasse de (a cup of), un kilo de (a kilo of), un morceau de ( a piece of), une tranche de (a slice of), une boîte de (a can of)

La plupart (most) and bien (many) are exceptions before a plural noun, and always use the des form.

Manquer de (to lack) and changer de (to change) always use de before the noun.

Avoir besoin de ( to need) and se passer de (to do without) use de alone, but when followed by a noun in the partitive sense.

When spoken in terms of a specific items, numerical value, or in the general sense of any item the indefinite article is retained due to its numerical value.

When using the articles be wary that the proper translations between french and english may differ. “Chocolate is expensive” in French will go as La chocolate est coûte cher. “The” is left out in English, but used in French.

Voilà and il y a

Voila and il y a both mean there is and/or there is, however they are used in different senses.

Voilà is the same as you presenting something or pointing something out.

Il y a on the other hand allows for it to be known that something is in existence or is present.

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