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TNs, U15a: Verbs: Present 1 (Conjugations, Pronunciation, Inf. after conjugations: Appreciation

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Conjugations

As you learned in "Basics 1", verbs like parler conjugate to agree with their subjects. Parler itself is an infinitive, which is a verb base form. It consists of a root (parl-) and an ending (-er). The ending can dictate how the verb should be conjugated. In this case, almost all verbs ending in -er are regular verbs in the 1st Group that share the same conjugation pattern. To conjugate another 1st Group verb, affix the ending to that verb's root.

  • Aimer ("to love"): j'aime, tu aimes, nous aimons, etc.
  • Marcher ("to walk"): je marche, tu marches, nous marchons, etc.

Every verb belongs to one of three groups:

  • The 1st Group includes regular -er verbs and includes 80% of all verbs.
  • The 2nd Group includes regular -ir verbs like finir ('to finish").
  • The 3rd Group includes all irregular verbs. This includes many common verbs like être and avoir as well as a handful of less common conjugation patterns.
Subject G1: parler G2: finir G3: dormir
je parle finis dors
tu parles finis dors
il/elle/on parle finit dort
nous parlons finissons dormons
vous parlez finissez dormez
ils/elles parlent finissent dorment

Aller ("to go") is the only fully irregular verb in Group 1, but a handful of others are slightly irregular.

Spelling-changing verbs end in -ger (e.g. manger) or -cer (e.g. lancer, "to throw") and change slightly in the nous form, as well as any other form whose ending begins with an A or O. These verbs take a form like nous mangeons or nous lançons.

Stem-changing verbs have different roots in their nous and vous forms. For instance, most forms of appeler ("to call") have two L's (e.g. j'appelle), but the N/V forms are nous appelons and vous appelez.

Pronunciation

There is a temptation to pronounce all the letters when first encountering the various conjugations, but it would be a mistake. Often the final consonants are silent at the end of words. For example, the verb “parler” in je parle, tu parles, il/elle parle, ils/elles parlent sounds exactly the same [paʁl]. In fact, il parle and ils parlent are perfect homophones, as well as elle parle and elles parlent. The third person plural ending, -ent, is always silent.

However, the ending “-ent” found at the end of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs is not silent and is pronounced [ɑ̃]. For example: vêtement [vɛtmɑ̃], content [kɔ̃tɑ̃], and souvent [suvɑ̃].

Infinitives after conjugations.

The infinitive is the non-conjugated form of a verb. It does not need a specific subject and it has several uses: as a noun, as a soft command, in interrogative or exclamatory phrases, and other uses that will be developed in further lessons.

For now, we will focus on the use of an infinitive directly after a conjugated verb. There are about thirty French verbs which can be directly followed by another verb in the infinitive.

The most frequent of them are:

Verbs of appreciation: aimer, adorer, désirer, détester, préférer

  • J’aime/Je déteste/Je préfère danser. — I like/I hate/I prefer dancing.

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