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Publié par escoffier sandrine

In this article, I want to give you a few keys to understand how the French conjugaison work.

We usually talk about "trois groupes" (3 groups) in the French conjugaison.

The first group "le premier groupe" is the easiest because it is the category with the more regularity and nearly no exceptions! It is also a BIG category in the French conjugaison. This means that many verbs are regular! Great news!

Le premier groupe includes verbs with an infinitive (infinitif) finishing with "ER":

manger (to eat), chanter (to sing), danser (to dance), nager (to swim), parler (to speak), écouter (to listen), regarder (to look), penser (to think), donner (to give)... 

And for this article, I will only talk about this "premier groupe". All you have to know regarding the 2 other groups is that they have exceptions and different ways to "conjuguer". The second group "le deuxième groupe" has a little bit more forms to remember. And the 3rd group "le troisième groupe" is full of exceptions. I think it would have been better to call it the "trash group". It contains all the verbs that do not fit into "le premier groupe" and "le deuxième groupe" !!! 😃

French conjugaison, how does it work?

Well, well, well... First things first!

In order to understand how things work in the French conjugaison, you have to understand 3 notions like "infinitif", "radical" and "terminaison".


L'infinitif du verbe (infinitive) is the basic form of the verb. This is how you will find the verb in the dictionary : manger, partir, finir, chanter...

"L'infinitif" ends with the letter "R", "ER", "IR" and sometimes "RE".

This infinitif is used in certain grammatical structures and it is also what we use to determine to which group this verb belongs to.

Le radical

This is another important notion to understand. "Le radical" is the basis of the verb, it's the first part of the verb once you drop the end of the "infinitif" :

Infinitif Drop Radical
Manger ER Mang
Chanter ER Chant
Partir IR Part
Marcher ET March

The radical is important because it is this radical that we use to "conjuguer" the verb It's on this radical that we add "la terminaison".

Now... Before we jump to "la terminaison". Let me just tell you that :

Premier groupe : radicals do not change 😋

Deuxième groupe : radicals change but they are "regular" changes. What I mean by "regular changes", is that it's always the same change. So, once you've learnt it, you know it for good 😋

Troisième groupe : everything changes "le radical" and "la terminaison". But yes, you can do it as so many people did it before you. It just takes time, and we will take our time on this beautiful road 😋

La terminaison

"La terminaison". This word comes from the verb (le verbe) "terminer" : to finish.

So, la terminaison is what we add at the end of the verb. And in French, "la terminaison" changes at every "personne". This means that we have une terminaison for :

I = je

You = tu

Il = he  /        Elle = she /          On = we / the people 

We = nous

You = vous (pluriel, plural or polite form) 

Ils = they (masculine)           elles = they (feminine)


One more thing, do not worry too much. Even the French people are sometimes confused and make mistakes...

And a last thing, in French, sometimes we write letters but do not pronounce them. So, it is important that you learn how to write the verbs (only if needed) and how to pronounce them (that is more important).

But if you want to learn how to write in French. Learn the spelling from the beginning. This way, you will learn one word or one verb at a time and it won't be too much to remember.

Back to French conjugaison for beginners



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