French Verbs: General introduction

Today we introduce the basic elements of French verbs. Generally all French verbs have to be conjugated. The forms (endings) of the verbs are determined by their subject. For example, in English the verb is conjugated mostly in the third person (i.e. I am, you are, he is; I go, you go, she/he goes; I talk, you talk, he/she talks, etc). We can take the liberty to say that the verbs in the English language have only three basic conjugations (i.e. I am, you are, he/she is). Further examples: I am, you are,  he/she is               I go, you go, he/she goes           I dance, you dance, he/she dances


However, verbs in French are classified into groups or categories.  There are three basic groups of verbs in French. Once you know the conjugation pattern for a category you will be able to conjugate the majority of verbs belong to that category. In other words, each group has its conjugation pattern.  As a result, it will be important to learn the basic paradigm for all three categories respectively. That will save a lot of headaches in the future.  The following are the major groups or categories:

  1. er verbs , the verbs belonging to the first category have an “er” ending in the infinitive.   

Envoyer = to send             Habiter = to dwell, to reside                   Donner = to give

  1. ir verbs, second group verbs have an “ir” ending in the infinitive.

Servir = to serve                      Finir = to finish                    Courrir= to run

  1. re verbs, third group verbs have an “re” ending in the infitive.

Mettre = to put             Vendre = to sell                           Rendre= to give back, to return (something)        

The French Alphabet

The French alphabet looks the same as the English Alphabet. The only difference is in the pronunciation.

A                     as in astronaute (astronaut)

B                      as in banana or bébé (baby)

C                     as in croissant

D                     as in deux (two) or dessert

E                      as in Europe or leçon (lesson)

F                      as in fille (girl)         

G                     as in giraffe

H                     as in hélicoptère (helicopter) or huit (eight)

I                       as in igloo

J                       as in jeu (game)

K                     as in kilo or kangourou

L                      as in livre (book) or lion

M                     as in microscope or maison (house)

N                     as in Nöel

 O                     as in orange

P                      as in parachute

Q                     as in quatre (four)

R                      as in rose

S                      as in serpent or soupe

T                      as in table (table) or trompette

U                     as in uniforme or univers

V                     as in violette or voyage

W                    as in wagon or western

X                     as in extra or xylophone


Y                     as in yeux (eyes) or yo-yo


Z                      as in zèbre

Language note-

I strongly encourage you to learn to pronounce the alphabet correctly, especially the vowels. Learning to pronouce it rightly will increase your reading ability. Repeat the letters several times, make flash cards and use them.   

I am working on the sound which I hope to include later for each letter respectively.

Tips for studying French

I thought I would share some tips on learning the French language which I normally share with my first year students. Even though you are studying French for reading knowledge; however you might find these tips very helpful to you (I hope).


  • Careful listening is a major part in learning a new language. Listen carefully to what is going on in class. Pay close attention to (your professor’s) pronunciation. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to ask your professor to repeat the word so you know exactly how to say/pronounce it.


  • If you are serious about learning French (beyond reading knowledge) you ought to practice speaking French every day. Speak French to your teachers and classmates. Don’t be afraid to make silly mistakes (Who care?). After all French is not your native tongue. Although most students of theology will find this aspect of the target language unhelpful since they only need to acquire the reading knowledge of French.


  • Students of language have an idea about the art of practicing. You know that from taking Greek & Hebrew in seminary?  The fact is this –Guys learning a new language requires practice and repetition. It is like to play a sport or an instrument.


  • Start reading French on your own. Don’t wait for your professor to give you reading assignment. You can go online and try to read French (I will link you to some useful sites). It will be worth it to buy a French Bible (Louis Segond version is a very good translation). I was able to get a French Bible for only $ 8.00 from lifeway Christian stores (  Start with the Gospel of John. It is the easiest one to start with and read.


  • As you learn French, your memory is going to be stretched out, so it is critically important to know how to organize your material efficiently. Look for Cognates ( Cognates are words that look similar and have the same meaning in French and English (i.e. chocolat, musique, vacances, etc).  Once you recognize which words are cognates, you can then spend more of your time studying the words that are not.

Have Fun!

  • Learning French can be fun and frustrating. You are the Boss! Determine if you are going to make this beautiful language an enjoying experience.

Au revoir (Bye Bye)