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Can someone explain the French suffixes?

I can't get a grasp on the suffixes, like how boi & boivent both mean to drink, and how mange, mangent, and manger.

I'm an idoit Merci

April 20, 2018



kinda like we sometimes have the suffix "s" on words like eat.
"you eat." (doesn't have the s)
"he eats." (does have the s)

Probably we should not call them suffixes because they're not. They are verb endings used for conjugation. Here's a website explaining conjugation in English. If your native language is an Indo-European language you should already be somewhat familiar with the concept: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/verb-conjugation/

it works the same way in French: tu manges (there's an s) il mange (there's no s) vous mangez (there's a z) nous mangeons (that one has "ons." They also sneak an "e" in there, but it is for the same reason that the English sneak a "k" in picnicking. Sly devils.)

And it's a bit more complicated, but not much more so, in French than in English. There are six endings for every mood, and there are about 14 moods/tenses. I'd say that you should stick with present tense (indicative mood) for now.

Singular 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person:

I talk je parle

you talk tu parles

he talks il parle

Plural 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person:

we talk nous parlons

youze guys talk vous parlez

they talk ils parlent

Now, sometimes we have really weird ones. Consider the verb "to be": I am, you are, he is, etc.

That one is also weird in French. "Irregular" is the politically-correct term.

Here's a website that I like to use for conjugation, but don't use it till you get a grasp on the general concept of conjugating verbs: http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-french-verb-parler.html


Those are the verb conjugations. No you are not an idiot!! Good to have a grammar book or make a list of verbs. Bonne chance.


Going from English, a language that doesn't have a lot of complex verb conjugation rules, to one that does, like French, takes a lot of getting used to.


There are a few online tools which can help one to master conjugation.



I also have a copy of Bescherelle's Complete Guide to Conjugating 12000 French Verbs. ISBN 2218065916 or 978-2218065910.

You might find the Complete Guide to be helpful once you start dealing with irregular verbs. One thing the book does (which the websites do not) is identify conjugation patterns within the irregular verbs. I find that to be very helpful when learning the irregulars.

Enjoy your French!


Let's look at the verb Parler which means to talk. Present tense conjugates as follows: Je parle = I talk or, I am talking Tu parles = you talk or, you are talking * Il parle = he/it talks or, he/it is talking Elle parle= she/it talks or, she/it is talking Nous parlons = we talk or, we are talking Vous parlez = you talk or, you are talking Ils parlent = they talk or, they are talking (all men or men and women) Elles parlent= they talk or, they are talking (all women) * Tu is used when the person is a friend, kid, etc.. Vous is used when the relationship with the person is formal such as a teacher. Vous is also used when "you" represents more than one person.

Almost all verbs that end in ER such as Chanter, Marcher, Aider conjugate the same. Verbs that end in IR or RE conjugate differently. It is work to learn these patterns.
A good on-line resource book is Bescherelle. Bookmark it for future reference. It is very helpful. Since you are a beginner in the French language first focus only on the Indicative Présent which is noted above. Bonne chance and please do not call yourself an idiot. We are all here to learn and feel frustrated at times. Enjoy the journey.


You've got some great answers here - and the only thing I would add is to be sure to read the tips/hints as you go (click on the light bulb). Duolingo expects your brain to pick up on patterns, but for me I need to have an infrastructure built to properly store what I'm learning.

And as others have said, you are not an idiot - but rather someone who is willing to learn a new language and ask questions when you don't understand. Those are characteristics of a very smart person.


As all the others have said, you're not an idiot; you're just not used to the verb conjugation.

If you need help with this, I suggest you look up conjugation for -er, -ir, and -re (these are just the endings of the infinitive form) verbs as they are the most common verb groups. This should give you a good base when you see a new verb being used and how to guess at how other forms of it are conjugated. Unfortunately in French, there are plenty of irregulars, so just do your best!


Those are the conjugations, not suffixes.


A great question! Looking at charts of conjugated verbs helped me a lot as a visual leaner. I've used 501 French Verbs by Christopher and Theodore Kendris since high school, and I recently got Bescherelle's Complete Guide to Conjugating 12,000 French Verbs—also a stellar resource.

Another good website: ListeningPractice.org

We learned how to conjugate verbs in English without memorizing charts or patterns, though. With enough time, you'll get the hang of doing it in French, and you won't even think about it. Don't give up.


You aren't an idiot. Our English language education system IS, they dont' teach us basic grammar or latin, both of which would make learning other languages SO MUCH easier!!!!

What you are asking about are verb conjugations

In the present tense in English we say I am, You are, He/She/It is, We are, You guys are, and They are

In FRENCH we say Je suis, Tu es, Il est, Nous sommes Vous etes Ils sont

They do that for every single verb in all kinds of tenses that us English speakers have never even thought of!!!

At first it feels REALLY daunting, but if you keep at it, you WILL get it. And once you do you will LOVE what it does to your entire thought process!!! Learning new grammars is MIND EXPANDING!!!!

I think Chinese is the ONLY language that has NO conjugations. Most languages have conjugations including for YOU PLURAL and often for a YOU that is respectful as well!!!

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