The two verbs to be = "être", and to have = "avoir". The comprehension of the use of these two verbs is very important for mastering the French language. They are used with the past participle to make compound tenses.
The simplest way to remember which one to use is as follows:
- Most verbs are conjugated with the French "avoir" (to have)
- Verbs describing, motion and direction; and reflexive verbs for example "to wash my hair", are conjugated with the verb "être" (to be)
(Use the audio player below to listen to the pronunciation)
Examples using the verb être
Verb to be : être, present
- I am = Je suis
- You are = Tu es
- He is = Il est
- She is = Elle est
- We are = Nous sommes
- You are = Vous êtes
- They are = Ils sont
- They are =Elles sont
Verb to be : être, imperfect
- I was = J'étais
- You were = Tu étais
- He was = Il était
- She was = Elle était
- We were = Nous étions
- You were = Vous étiez
- They were = Ils étaient
- They were = Elles étaient
Verb to be : être, future
- I will be = Je serai
- You will be = Tu seras
- He will be = Il sera
- She will be = Elle sera
- We will be = Nous serons
- You will be = Vous serez
- They will be = Ils seront
- They will be = Elles seront
Examples using the verb avoir
Verb to have : avoir, present
- I have = J'ai
- You have = Tu as
- He has = Il a
- She has = Elle a
- We have = Nous avons
- You have = Vous avez
- They have = Ils ont
- They have = Elles ont
Verb to have : avoir, imperfect
- I had = J'avais
- You had = Tu avais
- He had = Il avait
- She had = Elle avait
- We had = Nous avions
- You had = Vous aviez
- They had = Ils avaient
- They had = Elles avaient
Verb to have : avoir, future
- I will have = J'aurai
- You will have = Tu auras
- He will have = Il aura
- She will have = Elle aura
- We will have = Nous aurons
- You will have = Vous aurez
- They will have = Ils auront
- They will have = Elles auront
Looking for more French verbs ?
Check out the verb tables with all the French tenses and conjugations.
Audio examples of Avoir & Être
Use the audio player to listen and learn the French verbs
Also... Maps of France, Learn to speak French
Reading time: 3 minutesDifficulty: Beginner
Imagine a world where there are no commands or orders being issued. Well yeah, that’s right, you can’t. Whether you’re the one giving the orders or being given the orders, these things are all inexplicably intertwined with human nature and everyday living.
To issue commands or give instructions, we use the imperative form of the verb. We use the imperative day in and day out, and these words are quite often inescapable – from the moment you wake up until the day ends.
“go to work!”
“shut the door!”
“work on this project”
“meet me at 8”
“turn off the lights”
“go to bed now”
… and so many things in between.
Other uses of the imperative are:
- to express a desire (which is still basically a form of issuing a command, only said a lot nicer)
- to make a request (a very very polite kind of command)
- to give advice (still a form of command if we come to think of it)
- to recommend something (yup, still a command)
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN USING THE IMPERATIVE
- There are two often-used forms of the French imperative, and these correspond to tu and vous. The third form nous is only being used sometimes, and it works the same way we say “let’s” in English.
- Unlike the other verb forms and grammatical moods, the imperative does not use subject pronouns. Instead, object pronouns are being used.
- To form the present tense imperative, you simply use the present indicative forms for tu, nous, and vous, but these pronouns are no longer being mentioned.
Example for -er verbs: donner
tu —–> donne
nous —–> donnons
vous —–> donnez
Donne-moi ça! (Give me that!)
Note: In the tu form of -er verbs, the last -s is dropped (i.e. donne instead of donnes). But when tu is followed by en or y, the -s remains to make it easier to pronounce. (example: Vas-y! Which means “Go on!” or Donnes-en à ton frère which means “Give some to your brother.”)
Example for -ir verbs: finir
tu —–> finis
Finissez vos devoirs. (Finish your homework.)
Example for -re verbs: attendre
Attendons le bus. (Let’s wait for the bus.)
- There are two kinds of commands where the imperative is being used. These are the affirmative commands and the negative commands. In English, the affirmative command would be like “do this!” while the negative command is the opposite “don’t do that!” In French, the object pronoun which accompanies the imperative changes its position depending on the kind of command being issued.
Quick tip: object pronouns are words such as la (her/it), me or moi (me), and leur (them). These often appear in the object part of the sentence, but in the case of the imperative, these are the pronouns being used.
FOR AFFIRMATIVE COMMANDS, THE OBJECT PRONOUNS COME AFTER THE VERB.
The verb and the pronoun are then linked together with a hyphen.
Excusez-moi. (Excuse me.)
Aide-nous. (Help us.)
FOR NEGATIVE COMMANDS, THE OBJECT PRONOUNS COME BEFORE THE VERB.
Ne… pas is used in this case.
Ne leur parlons pas. (Don’t speak to them.)
Ne le regardez pas. (Don’t look at him/it.)
- There are cases when both direct and indirect object pronouns are present. During these scenarios, the DIRECT OBJECT PRONOUNS always come BEFORE the INDIRECT OBJECT PRONOUNS.
Direct object pronouns are: le, la, les
Indirect object pronouns are: moi, toi, lui, nous, vous, leur.
Donnez-la-nous! (Give it to us!)
Prête-les moi! (Lend them to me!)
- The irregular verbs avoir, être,savoir and vouloir have their own imperative forms. These are the following:
|Avoir (to have)||aie||ayons||ayez|
|Être (to be)||sois||soyons||soyez|
|Savoir (to know)||sache||sachons||sachez|
|Vouloir (to want)||veuille||veuillons||veuillez|
A QUICK WRAP UP OF THE TOPIC
- The three forms for the imperative are: tu, nous, and vous.
- The conjugation is same as the present tense except that for -er verbs, the last -s is dropped in the tu form.
- Object pronouns are used in the imperative.
- For affirmative commands, the object pronoun comes after the verb and both are joined by a hyphen.
- For negative commands, the object pronoun comes before the verb.
- In cases where both direct and indirect object pronouns are present, direct object pronouns come first before the indirect.
P.S. You would be doing me a HUGE FAVOR by sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, Google + or Pinterest.
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About the Author Frederic
Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +