French Verbs that End in -re

French re verbs

French Verbs

All French verbs end in either -re, -er, or -ir. Each of these verb categories has specific rules governing how they change to express layers of crucial information about the situation. The category of verbs that ends in -re is the smallest category of verbs in French, comprising about 50 regular verbs and about 100 irregular ones. The regular -re verbs are fairly easy to conjugate, with the nous, vous, and ils/elles forms using the same endings as -er verbs.

How Verbs Change

The form of a verb changes to show who performed the action (the “person”) and when it occurred (the “tense”). French uses one extra person category (vous) that corresponds to addressing “you all / you guys” in English.

Though native speakers may not notice it, English verbs also change depending on who and when the action occurs. Most verbs only change in the third person singular (see below) in English, but all verbs change to distinguish when something occurs.

Person (Singular)Present tensePast tense
First personI walkI walked
Second personYou walkYou walked
Third personHe/She walksHe/She walked

In most cases (apart from irregular verbs), the English past tense is formed by adding -ed to the word. Both English and French have a lot of irregular verbs, which simply need to be memorized, but learning the rule for regular verbs makes conjugation much easier.

Being exposed to verbs in context (rather than just in a chart) is also crucial to becoming comfortable using them – not to mention it’s more fun! Use Lingvist’s French course to see verbs in context, as well as look over grammar tips to clarify concepts explicitly as needed.

To Infinitif and Beyond

The infinitive form of a verb is its most basic form. You can spot infinitives easily in French because they retain their original ending of -re, -ir, or -er. The equivalent meaning in English is the same as “to [verb],” so aimer translates to “to like.”

Except when stacking two verbs together (“She [likes] [to run]”/ “Elle [aime] [courir]”), the infinitive form needs to change to express the who and when. This is where conjugation comes in.

For regular verbs, the infinitive lends its stem to its conjugated forms in a predictable way. The stem, or radical (from “root” in French: racine), is the part that occurs before the -re, -ir, or -er.

Simply put, to conjugate an -re verb, drop the -re and add the appropriate ending according to the person and tense.

For example, in the present tense, you add -s, -s, , -ons, -ez, and -ent to the remaining stem after removing -re.

Conjugating Regular -re Verbs in the Present Tense

To talk about something being done presently, drop the -re and add one of these endings.

English often uses the present continuous (example below with vendre) instead of the present indicative, so you’ll end up using the Present Indicative a lot more often in French than you do in English. In English, the present often has an implied regularity or habitual connotation to it. The French indicative can be used to talk about habitual actions, but also to describe something happening presently or that will occur immediately.

I am selling [Present continuous] / I sell [Present Indicative] = J’écris [Present Indicative]

If you’ve already begun learning French, you’ve definitely noticed that French words are rarely phonetic, meaning that the pronunciation rules diverge from the written form. In the table below, you can see what the endings sound like.

PersonPresent EndingPronunciation
je-s“–”
tu-s“–”
il/elle/on“–”
nous-onsnasal “o”
vous-ez“ay”
ils/elles-ent“–”

Ex: vendre –> vend -re (to sell)

je vendsnous vendons
tu vendsvous vendez
il/elle/on vendils/elles vendent

Common Irregular -re Verbs

The most common -re verbs that you will come into contact with are irregular. There are seven groups which follow a certain pattern of irregularity (explained below) and then there are some verbs that just like to walk to the beat of their own drum.

For a list of the 25 most common -re verbs and their conjugations, click here. Irregular verbs are highlighted in red in this list.

1. Verbs like rompre (corrompre, interrompre) follow the regular pattern, except for in the il/elle/on form, which adds a t.

Ex.: rompre –> romp -re (to break)

je rompsnous rompons
tu rompsvous rompez
il/elle/on romptils/elles rompent

2. Verbs that end in -uire, -dire, -fire and -lire: After removing the -re from these verbs, add an s to the stem if it’s a plural person form (nous, vous, and ils/elles) and a t to the il/elle/on form.

Ex.: traduire –> tradui/traduis -re (to translate)

je traduisnous traduisons
tu traduisvous traduisez
il/elle/on traduitils/elles traduisent

Verbs in this category:

conduire (to drive) construire (to build) contredire (to contradict) cuire (to cook) se dédire (to go back on one’s word) déduire (to deduce, deduct) détruire (to destroy) éconduire (to dismiss) élire (to elect) enduire (to coat) frire (to fry) induire (to mislead) instruire (to instruct) interdire (to forbid) introduire (to introduce, insert) lire (to read) luire (to shine) médire (to malign) nuire (to harm) prédire (to predict) produire (to produce) reconduire (to renew) reconstruire (to rebuild) réduire (to reduce) reluire (to shine) reproduire (to reproduce) séduire (to seduce) suffire (to suffice) traduire (to translate)

There is an additional irregularity in the vous form of dire (to say, tell) and redire (to repeat, say again), which changes to: vous dites/redites.

3. Verbs ending in -crire: After removing the -re from these verbs, add a v to the stem if it’s a plural person form (nous, vous, and ils/elles) and a t to the il/elle/on form.

Ex.: écrire –> écri/écriv -re (to write)

j’écrisnous écrivons
tu écrisvous écrivez
il/elle/on écritils/elles écrivent

Verbs in this category:

circonscrire (to contain, confine) décrire (to describe) inscrire (to inscribe, write down) prescrire (to prescribe) proscrire (to prohibit, ban) récrire (to rewrite) souscrire (to subscribe) transcrire (to transcribe)

4. Verbs that end in -aindre, -eindre, and -oindre undergo a stem change. They drop the d in all forms and add a g before the n if it’s a plural person form (nous, vous, and ils/elles). Just like the other irregular groups above, they add a t to the il/elle/on form.

Ex.: craindre –> crain/craign -re (to fear)

je crainsnous craignons
tu crainsvous craignez
il/elle/on craintils/elles craignent

Verbs in this category:

adjoindre (to appoint) astreindre (to compel, force) atteindre (to attain, reach) contraindre (to force, compel) dépeindre (to depict) déteindre (to bleach, leach) disjoindre (to disconnect, separate) enjoindre (to enjoin (someone to do something)) épreindre (to juice) éteindre (to extinguish, snuff out) étreindre (to embrace, clutch) feindre (to feign) geindre (to groan, whine) joindre (to join) peindre (to paint) plaindre (to pity, feel sorry for) rejoindre (to rejoin, get back to) repeindre (to repaint) restreindre (to restrict, limit) teindre (to dye)

5. Verbs that end in -ttre lose the second t in all of the singular person forms (je, tu, il/elle/on).

Ex.: mettre –> mett/met -re (to put)

je metsnous mettons
tu metsvous mettez
il/elle/on metils/elles mettent

Verbs in this category:

abattre (to knock down, weaken) admettre (to admit) battre (to beat) combattre (to combat, fight) commettre (to commit) compromettre (to compromise) débattre (to debate) permettre (to permit) promettre (to promise) soumettre (to submit) transmettre (to transmit)

6. Prendre in all of its forms: Verbs with prendre (to take) within them are conjugated just like the irregular verb prendre itself. After removing the -re ending, drop the d as well in all plural person forms (nous, vous, and ils/elles). Add an extra n in the third person (ils/elles) form.

Ex.: apprendre –> apprend/appren/apprenn -re (to learn)

j’apprendsnous apprenons
tu apprendsvous apprenez
il/elle/on apprendils/elles apprennent

Verbs in this category:

comprendre (to understand) entreprendre (to undertake) se méprendre (to be mistaken) prendre (to take) reprendre (to take again, retake) surprendre (to surprise)

7. Verbs that end in -aître (except naître):

Remove the ending -tre, change the î to an i, and use these irregular endings:

PersonPresent EndingPronunciation
je-s“ay”
tu-s“ay”
il/elle/on-^t“ay”
nous-ssons“aysahn”
vous-ssez“aysay”
ils/elles-ssent“ayss”

Ex.: connaître –> connai -re (to learn)

je connaisnous connaissons
tu connaisvous connaissez
il/elle/on connaîtils/elles connaissent

Verbs in this category:

apparaître (to appear) comparaître (to appear in court) connaître (to know, be familiar with) disparaître (to disappear) méconnaître (to be unaware of) paraître (to seem) reconnaître (to recognize) reparaître (to reappear) transparaître (to show through)

8. Other irregular verbs: Outside these categorical patterns of irregularity, there are several other very common irregular verbs which are unique. This means that you will need to simply memorize the conjugations for these verbs. The most common one is être (to be), which you should prioritize memorizing since it’s so commonly used!

Ex: être (to be)

je suisnous sommes
tu esvous êtes
il/elle/on estils/elles sont

These verbs also have unique patterns of conjugation, so keep your eye out for them:

boire (to drink) clore (to close) conclure (to conclude), exclure (to exclude), inclure (to include), occlure (to occlude) coudre (to sew) croire (to think) absoudre (absolve), dissoudre (dissolve), résoudre (resolve) distraire (to distract) faire (to do/make), défaire (to undo), parfaire (to perfect), refaire (to redo) moudre (to grind) naître (to be born) plaire (to please), déplaire (to displease) rire (to laugh), sourire (to smile) suivre (to follow), poursuivre (to continue) se taire (to quiet oneself / shut up) vivre (to live), survivre (to survive)

Need more practice with conjugations and pronunciation? Sign up for Lingvist’s French course today to discover fun exercises for learning conjugations and practicing pronunciation!