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)        

Indefinite articles

The French indefinite articles (les articles indefinis) agree both in number and gender.  French has 3 indefinite articles:

un, is used with masculine nouns (ex. un homme, un discipline, un peu..)

une, is used with feminine nouns (ex. une gloire, une personne, une femme…)

des, with plura nouns (ex. des hommes, des femmes, des miracles…)

* Both un and une mean a or an. De translates some in english. When un, une, and des are followed by ne…pas, they change to de (ex.  John 1.27, je ne suis pas digne de delier la courroie de ses souliers)

Definite Articles

French has four definite articles which translate simply as “the” in the english language.  The french definite articles must agree in gender and in number.  Here they are:

Le, is used with masculine nouns ( ex. Le temoignage, le prophete, le maitre…)

La,  is used with feminine nouns (ex.  la bible, la lumiere, la parole…)


L’, is used before a singular noun (ex. L’enfant, l’anglais, l’ange). You also use l’ if the noun begins with a vowel sound.


Les, is always use before plural nouns (ex. les choses,  les siens, les Juifs…)


A good question to ask…?


How does one know which nouns are masculine and which are femine?

This is a difficult question to answer. However, the generally rule is that nouns that refer to males are masculine (le garcon), whereas, those that refer to females are feminine (la fille). For now, you just have to learn the definite article that goes with each one.

John 1:6-8

Today Let’s walk through John 1:6-8.  Here is the translation in French

1.6 Il y eut un homme envoyé de Dieu: son nom était Jean.  
1.7 Il vint pour servir de témoin, pour rendre témoignage à la lumière, afin que tous crussent par lui.
1.8 Il n’était pas la lumière, mais il parut pour rendre témoignage à la lumière.  
était  (was);  it is the past tense [imparfait in French] form of the verb être = to be

vint (to come) ; from “venire.” Passe simple indicative 3rd person singular. This particular tense in French is called “passé simple” and is used in literary works.

servir  (to serve); present indicative infinitive. 2nd group verb with an “ir” ending.

rendre  ( it is best to translate this verb as “to come” in the context of John bearing witness about Jesus)

crussent (to believe), subjunctive mood indicative 3rd person  plural. The little phrase “afin que” (so that…)  tells us the verb is  the  subjunctive mood.

parut (to appear/to bear). Passe simple indicative 3rd person singular. This particular tense in French is called “passé simple” and is used in literary works.  



homme (man/human)

Dieu (God)

Nom (name)

Jean (John)

témoin (witness)

témoignage (testimony)

lumière (light) 

un (a).  Article indéfini (indefinite article)
la (the), the feminin of « le » (definite article)

envoyé ( sent). Here “envoyé”  functions not as a verb per se but as an adjective.  Thus,  

            the phrase “un homme envoyé » is adjectival.

tous (all), the plural form of “tout”

  Adverbs /prepositions/conjunctions 

de (of)

pour (for)

afin que (so that…)

par (by)

mais (but)

à (to)

Additional comments:
son nom (his name). “Son” is a possessive adjective meaning “his”. Its gender is masculin and number is singular  

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)


Theological French blog

Theological French/Français théologique is created to teach students of theology to read theological French and improve their French Grammar so they might be able to read their Bible in French and read theological material in the target language.  The following are the topics we will attempt to cover in the coming posts:

Part I- The French Language (La langue francaise)

·     The French alphabet

·        Accent marks

·        Numbers

·        Punctuation and Syllabification

Part II- Nouns (Les noms)

·        French Nouns

·        Articles

·        Adjectives

·        Negation

·        Contractions

·        Prepositions

·        Demonstrative Pronouns

·        Personal Pronouns

·        Relative Pronouns

Part III-Verbs (Les verbes)

·        French Verbs

·        Subject Pronouns

·        Present Active Indicative

·        Past Tense

·        Future Tense

·        Conditional mood

·        Subjunctive mood  

Side note-

As we’re walking through the language together we will also translate the Gospel of John verse by verse (because it is very easy to translate). We will also post daily vocabulary from various biblical books or authors (i.e. Gospels, Johannine writings, Pauline letters, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Peter, etc). However, since the Gospel of John is easy to read both in Greek and French we will begin our translation with the fourth Gospel. Drills will be included pertaining to each studied lesson. We will also include several useful links. A little about Me-I married to Katia . Together we have two sons: Terrence and Joshua. Presently I teach French in High School for Henry County Schools in Georgia. I look forward to doing Ph.D. in New Testament Studies.  Linguistically speaking, I am trilingual (Haitian Creole, French, English). I hold a B.A. in Theology (Baptist College of Florida); M.A. in French Language & Literature (University of Louisville); M. Div. in Theology (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), and a Th. M. in New Testament ( Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).  I have another blog, Christ, My Righteousness (

Buckle up your seat belts let’s learn the language spoken in heaven:)