French verb conjugation

I have been learning french for 3 years, and now I have to learn all the conjuncations for every one of the grammar times:
Le présent
Le passé composé
Le plus que parfait
Le futur simple
Le futur antérieur
So, maybe you have an idea or some tips for how can I learn all these conjunctions using memory techniques without get confused
Thanks in advance :blush:


So what have you been doing for three years then? I mean without conjugation you’d have to say “Hello, my name to be @Nika120” instead of is. I’m actually quite curious as to how you ended up in this situation.

Okay, so… first you learn the two auxiliary verbs avoir and être to even be able to “compose” (hence passé “composé”) half the tenses you mention up there. In fact, split that in half and just learn avoir for now because you’ll run into it more often.

Next, learn how to conjugate verbs in the first group and you will have be able to do all six tenses for all of these. Here “donner” as an example: Then, learn être for verbs of motion and continue on with the second group. Here “arriver” as an example: Lastly, the third group with all the irregular verbs and that’s it.

1 Like

Consider the above the strategy and this post the implementation… I figured it’d make sense to split them like this. So, I’ll start you off with the first group and avoir to give you an idea… the rest is up to you then.

penser (présent)

  • je pense
  • tu penses
  • il, elle pense
  • nous pensons
  • vous pensez
  • ils, elles pensent

Take the infinitive penser and drop the -er to get the stem pens and add the endings -e, -es, -e, -ons, -ez, -ent accordingly. This is how you build the présent for ALL verbs ending in -er; with the exception of aller which is irregular. This is called the first group.

avoir (présent)

  • j’ai
  • tu as
  • il, elle a
  • nous avons
  • vous avez
  • ils, elles ont

There isn’t much to say here… avoir is irregular, so you’ll just have to learn it by heart. On the plus side, knowing how to do this let’s you form…

penser (passé composé)

  • j’ai pensé
  • tu as pensé
  • il, elle a pensé
  • nous avons pensé
  • vous avez pensé
  • ils, elles ont pensé

Nothing much exciting going on here… use the past participle of penser, which is stem + é and place avoir (présent) in front of it. Both, plus-que-parfait and futur antérieur work in a similar fashion as you’ll see shortly.

On to the imparfait… take the 1st person plural (nous pensons) and drop the -ons ending to get the new stem pens. In this case it’s the old stem but for some verbs it’s not, so in terms of…

…that’d be an important thing to know; i.e., how to get the stem for…

penser (imparfait)

  • je pensais
  • tu pensais
  • il, elle pensait
  • nous pensions
  • vous pensiez
  • ils, elles pensaient

Simple, just take the stem and add -ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient accordingly. Also, this time around… avoir won’t be as irregular:

avoir (imparfait)

  • j’avais
  • tu avais
  • il, elle avait
  • nous avions
  • vous aviez
  • ils, elles avaient

As mentioned, you take the 1st pl. and drop the -ons, so “nous avons” becomes av- and you just add the same ending as for penser. Throwing avoir and penser together again, just like we already did for the passé composé, we’ll get

penser (plus-que-parfait)

  • j’avais pensé
  • tu avais pensé
  • il, elle avait pensé
  • nous avions pensé
  • vous aviez pensé
  • ils, elles avaient pensé

Nothing you haven’t seen before… instead of the présent you take the imparfait of avoir; other than that, same as for the passé composé with the past participle of penser. Lastly then…

penser (futur)

  • je penserai
  • tu penseras
  • il, elle pensera
  • nous penserons
  • vous penserez
  • ils, elles penseront

All you do here is add -er back to the stem, so pens- becomes penser (same as the infinitive) and then you just add the avoir (présent) endings you saw in the very beginning already. The stem for avoir is aur- which is something you’ll have have to remember and then the same ending for…

avoir (futur)

  • j’aurai
  • tu auras
  • il, elle aura
  • nous aurons
  • vous aurez
  • ils, elles auront

…and for the very last time, we’ll put these two together as well to get

penser (futur antérieur)

  • j’aurai pensé
  • tu auras pensé
  • il, elle aura pensé
  • nous aurons pensé
  • vous aurez pensé
  • ils, elles auront pensé

As you can see… if done in the correct order it’s no big deal at all. I suggest you reread the above and learn how to form the six tenses you are looking for. Once you’re good there… learn how to do être and memorize the verbs of motion that use être instead of avoir to form passé composé, plus-que-parfait, and futur antérieur.

1 Like