French Verbs: the Basics
- Action and Stative Verbs
- Verb Groups in French
- Verb Conjugation in French
Verbs are the base of any sentence: they state which action is performed whether it comes to the physical process, thought, state, or concept.
French grammar concerning verbs shares many similarities with English grammar. Nevertheless, there are many differences that you need to be aware of. Here are the basics you should learn about French verbs.
Action and Stative Verbs
Rule 1: There are two categories French verbs can be put into: action verbs and stative verbs.
Action verbs are used when you want to talk about an act or an activity that the subject of the sentence does. They are also often followed by direct or indirect objects.
For example, faire (to do), manger (to eat), or acheter (to buy) are all action verbs.
Cyril mange une pomme.
Cyril eats an apple.
Stative verbs, on the other hand, show that someone or something has a particular characteristic - they express a state or a change in this state.
The most commonly used stative verb is être (to be), but the list also includes paraître (to appear), sembler (to seem), or devenir (to become), among others.
Je suis un étudiante.
I am a student.
There are many stative and action verbs in French, so it's not possible to create a complete list. However, you don't need one. Look at the function the verb has in the sentence and on the message it sends. Does someone do something? Or is someone in a certain state?
Je cherche mon livre
Verb Groups in French
Rule 2: French verbs are also divided into three conjugations based on their endings.
Most verbs that belong in the first and second groups have a regular conjugation. The third group includes irregular verbs that can also be categorized by their endings.
Verb Conjugation in French
Rule 3: To conjugate the verb, we take its stem (or base, or root) and add the appropriate ending depending on the tense and their conjugation.
root + ending = conjugated form of the verb
To find the root, you simply take the infinitive of the verb and take off the ending.
manger (infinitive) - er = mange (root)
mange + s (1st group, 2nd person ending) = tu manges (present tense)
When learning more about different verb tenses and grammatical moods in French, you will also learn the endings that are used in this tense.