As in English, French verbs are divided into 2 categories, the regulars and the irregulars.
French irregular verbs often correspond to English ones but not always. For example, ‘to bring’ is irregular but the French equivalent verb, ‘apporter’, is not. And vice versa, ‘ouvrir’ is irregular in French but ‘to open’ is not. In both languages, it is a matter of just learning them. A separate section will be dedicated to irregular verbs.
French regular verbs are divided in 3 categories:
verbs ending in –er as in ‘parler’ (to speak), ‘marcher’ (to walk) or ‘chanter’ (to sing)
verbs ending in –ir as in ‘finir’ (to finish), ‘choisir’ (to chose) or ‘grandir’ (to grow up)
verbs ending in –re as in ‘vendre’ (to sell), ‘répondre’ (to answer) or ‘entendre’ (to hear)
Each category follows a clear pattern which can be applied to all verbs in that group.
The endings for the verbs whose infinitives end in –er are as follow:
root of the verb ‘parl’
Je parl-e – I speak
Tu parl-es – You speak
Il/elle parl-e – He / She speaks
Nous parl-ons – We speak
Vous parl-ez – You speak
Ils/elles parl-ent – They speak
The endings for the verbs whose infinitives end in –ir are as follow:
root of the verb ‘fin’
Je fin-is – I finish
Tu fin-is – You finish
Il/elle fin-it – He/she finishes
Nous fin-issons / We finish
Vous fin-issez / You finish
Ils/elles fin-issent / We finish
The endings for the verbs whose infinitives end in –re are as follow:
root of the verb ‘vend’
Je vend-s – I sell
Tu vend-s – You sell
Il/elle vend-it – He/she sells
Nous vend-ons – We sell
Vous vend-ez – You sell
Ils/elles vend-ent – They sell
As indicated above, the basic tip for remembering the conjugation of –er, –ir or –re verbs is to take the root of the verb (here ‘parl’ , ‘fin’ or ‘vend’) and add their respective endings. The good news is that a huge majority of French verbs ends in –er.
Beware! The infinitive of some irregular verbs looks like they might be regular verbs but are not. For example: aller (to go), courir (to run) or faire (to do). Some of them do have a regular conjugation in the present tense but are irregular in other tenses. Others have only slight irregularities.