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Tips on how to conjugate être in French

The verb être is essentially the most generally used verb within the French language. In English, it interprets as “to be.” 

It’s additionally essentially the most well-known French verb! You’ve most likely seen a photograph of René Magritte’s portray “The Treachery of Pictures” the place the phrase “ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this isn’t a pipe) is written beneath the picture of a smoking pipe. 

Or, possibly you’ve heard the quote “Je pense, donc je suis” (I believe, subsequently I’m) by thinker René Descartes. So, let’s begin eager about all of the alternative ways you need to use être! On this article, we’ll share the six most important methods être is used, and present you tips on how to  conjugate the verb in six totally different tenses. 

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Desk of contents:

The six totally different makes use of of être:

As the most typical verb within the French language, être is used to specific emotions, traits, your location, and extra! Figuring out tips on how to use être will provide help to discuss your self and the individuals round you.

1. To precise a state of being:

A method you need to use être is to explain the way you’re feeling. Similar to in English, French audio system use “I’m” statements to explain how they really feel bodily or emotionally. 

  • Je suis content material / contente. = I am comfortable.
  • Il est fatigué. = He is drained.
  • Nous sommes malades. = We are sick.

2. To explain somebody:

One other widespread use of être is to explain the bodily traits of different individuals and issues. In these circumstances the opposite individual is the topic of the sentence.

  • Il est grand. = He is tall.
  • Elle est petite. = She is small.
  • Ils sont beaux. = They are good-looking.

3. To precise possession:

If you need to point out possession of one thing, like within the phrase “It’s my automotive,” être is the verb to make use of! In these sentences, the individual, place, or factor you’re possessing is the topic of the sentence.

  • C’est mon chat. = It is my cat.
  • C’est le chien de ma mère. = It is my mom’s canine.
  • Ce sont mes clés. = These are my keys.

Be aware: Ce means “it” or “this.” The singular, first individual contraction above—C’est—is a mixture of “ce + “est.” In French, it’s widespread observe to create a contraction between two phrases when one phrase ends with a vowel and the subsequent begins with a vowel. 

4. To present your location:

In the identical means you’ll say “I’m at work” in English, in French you’ll use être to point your location.

  • Je suis à Paris. = I am in Paris.
  • Il est au travail. = He is at work.
  • Vous êtes dans le jardin. = You are within the backyard.

5. To inform somebody your job or nationality:

Être can be used to inform somebody your nationality or what you do for work.

It’s best to notice that in French, professions lose their particular article (le, las, les) or indefinite article (un, une, des) and grow to be adjectives when following être.

  • Je suis Français. = I am French.
  • Il est professeur. = He is a instructor.
  • Vous êtes dentiste. = You are a dentist.

6. To precise punctuality:

The final most typical utilization of être is to inform time! Every thing from speaking in regards to the present time to discussing how late or early somebody or one thing is makes use of the verb être.

  • Quelle heure est-il ? = What time is it?
  • Il est huit heures. = It is eight o’clock.
  • Je suis en retard. = I am late.
  • Il est en avance. = He is early.

Don’t use être on your age

Since sentences with être are similar to English sentences utilizing “am,” “is,” or “are,” many individuals assume that they’ll use être to state their age. However that is truly a giant mistake! 

In French, it’s acceptable to make use of the verb avoir if you find yourself speaking about your age. So whereas it might appear odd to say you “have your age,” that’s the way it’s achieved in French!

  • J’ai vingt ans. = I am 20 years previous.
  • Elle a soixante ans. = She is 60 years previous.

Tips on how to conjugate être:

Now that you simply’ve seen some examples of être in motion, it’s time to learn the way être is conjugated within the current, previous, and future tenses!

Être within the current tense:

You, casual
Il, Elle
He, She
You, formal
Ils, Elles

It’s best to already be conversant in être within the current tense, since we used it in all our earlier examples. However simply to make certain, listed here are a pair further examples of être within the current tense:

  • Les enfants sont dans la classe. = The youngsters are within the classroom.
  • La voiture est rouge. = The automotive is crimson.
  • Le médecin est là. = The physician is right here.

Être within the passé composé:

In French the passé composé tense signifies actions which can be each finite and full—they occurred prior to now. It’s generally known as the “completed previous.” For the verb être we will consider this as sentences with “was” or “have been” in them. Similar to many different French verbs, to conjugate être in passé composé, you’ll use avoir as an auxiliary verb.

ai été
You, casual
as été
Il, Elle
He, She
a été
avons été
You, formal
avez été
Ils, Elles
ont été

When utilizing être prior to now tense it’s necessary to do not forget that “being” is a steady state, so être usually makes use of the imparfait conjugation. To assist illustrate the distinction between the passé composé and imparfait conjugations, let’s take a look at this sentence: “Final 12 months, I used to be sick.”

  • Passé composé: L’année dernière, j’ai été vraiment malade.
  • Imparfait: L’année dernière, j’étais vraiment malade.

Within the passé composé tense, the sentence implies that you simply have been sick for a quick time period. However, within the imparfait tense, you’re implying that you simply have been sick for an prolonged time period.

Ultimately, both tense will get the purpose throughout, nevertheless it’s as much as your judgment as to which one is “extra” right. Typically, utilizing être within the imparfait tense is the best strategy to go.

You also needs to bear in mind to have topic settlement when conjugating être within the passé composé. This implies in case you have an adjective, like content material within the instance beneath, it’s best to add an “-e” on the finish if the topic is female, and an “-s” on the finish for plural topics. 

  • Masculine: J’ai été content material de te voir. = I used to be comfortable to see you. 
  • Female: J’ai été content materiale de te voir. = I used to be comfortable to see you.
  • Plural: Ils étaient content materials de vous voir. = They have been comfortable to see you. 

Être within the imparfait:

As we defined above, conjugating être for the previous usually makes use of the imparfait tense. This tense describes states of being and actions that have been ongoing or repeated prior to now.

You, casual
Il, Elle
He, She
You, formal
Ils, Elles

You’ll most frequently use l’imparfait to explain issues that you simply used to do frequently, emotions you had, or locations you have been in.

  • Quand j’étais enfant, je jouais du piano. = Once I was a toddler, I used to play the piano.
  • Il était content material de te voir. = He was comfortable to see you.
  • Nous étions dans la forêt quand il a commencé à neiger. = We have been within the forest when it began to snow.

Être sooner or later tense:

Conjugating être sooner or later is much like different French verbs. You’ll merely drop the ending of the verb and add the suitable ending. Nevertheless, as être is a extremely irregular verb, the stem phrase for être sooner or later tense is ser.

You, casual
Il, Elle
He, She
You, formal
Ils, Elles

For sentences the place you need to specific what you “will do” or “shall be,” you’ll use the longer term tense of être.

  • Je serai en retard pour la réunion de 14h. = I shall be late for our 2 p.m. assembly.
  • L’été prochain, ils seront en France pour deux semaines. = Subsequent summer time, they shall be in France for 2 weeks.
  • Elle sera absente la semaine prochaine. = She shall be out subsequent week.

Être within the subjunctive current tense: 

In French, emotions like doubt and need require the subjunctive current tense, as do expressions of necessity, risk, and judgment. This tense can be known as a “temper” because it expresses issues which can be subjective or unsure.

You, casual
Il, Elle
He, She
You, formal
Ils, Elles

Listed here are a pair examples of subjective concepts utilizing être within the subjunctive current tense:

  • Il faut que tu sois gentil(le) avec tes amis. = You should be good to your pals.
  • Je ne pense pas que ce soit une bonne idée. = I don’t assume it is a good suggestion.
  • Il est attainable que nous soyons en retard. =  It’s attainable that we might be late.

Être within the crucial:

The crucial type is used to provide orders or recommendation to a number of individuals. The crucial solely exists within the tu, nous, and vous kinds. To conjugate être within the crucial is similar as for the subjunctive current tense, however the topic pronouns are omitted.

  • Sois gentil(le). = Be good.
  • Soyons sufferers. = Let’s be affected person.
  • Soyez heureux. = Be comfortable.

Être as an auxiliary verb

In the event you’ve learn our information to French verb conjugation, it’s possible you’ll do not forget that verbs within the passé composé require an auxiliary verb to type the tense. Most French verbs use avoir because the auxiliary verb, however there are 17 verbs that use être because the auxiliary verb.

Forming passé composé utilizing être follows the identical sample as verbs that use avoir. First être is conjugated within the current tense adopted by the previous participle of the verb exhibiting the motion. Listed here are the 17 verbs that use être within the passé composé:

Verb Previous participle
to go
to reach
to descend / to go down
descended / went down
to grow to be
grew to become
to enter
to go up
went up
to die
to be born

was / have been born
to go away
to go by
handed by
to return
to stay, to remain
remained, stayed
to return
to return again
got here again
to exit
went out
to fall
to return
got here

A straightforward strategy to bear in mind which verbs use être as an auxiliary verb is to consider the La maison d’être or “The home of être.” This visible illustration exhibits all of the etre verbs as actions you’ll be able to soak up relation to a home!

Verbs whose serving to verb is être should present settlement of their previous participle in gender and quantity. This implies including an “-e” to the tip for female topics, and including an “-s” for plural topics.

Masculine topics:

  • Je suis allé au cinéma. = I went to the flicks. 
  • Tu es parti vendredi dernier. = You left final Friday.
  • Il est né le 2 avril 1910. = He was born on April 2nd, 1910.

Female topics:

  • Je suis allée au cinéma. = I went to the flicks.
  • Tu es partie vendredi dernier. = You left final Friday.
  • Elle est née le 2 avril 1910. = She was born on April 2nd, 1910.

Plural masculine topics:

  • Vous êtes venus nous rendre visite l’année dernière. = You got here to go to us final 12 months.
  • Ils sont sortis ensemble. = They are going out collectively.
  • Nous sommes arrivés en retard. = We arrived late.

Plural female topics:

  • Vous êtes venues nous rendre visite l’année dernière. = You got here to go to us final 12 months.
  • Elles sont sorties ensemble. = They went out collectively.
  • Nous sommes arrivées en retard. = We arrived late.

Pronunciation of the verb être:

There’s a huge distinction between the pronunciation of “être” in  formal conversations or French studying strategies, and the way in which it’s pronounced in on a regular basis conversations. So, we’ve put collectively some examples that will help you sound like a local French speaker.

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Saying suis

Sometimes, “suis” is alleged with a silent “s” on the finish. However when suis is adopted by a phrase starting with a vowel, you’ll say a “Z” sound in liaison with the next phrase. 

So, when talking formally, the sentence “Je suis américain.” (I’m American.) is pronounced “Je suis Z-américain.”

In on a regular basis conversations, “Je suis” shall be pronounced “shui” with no liaison after. So this identical sentence “Je suis américain.” is pronounced “Shui américain.” 

Saying êtes

Now let’s take a look at the sentence “Vous êtes à New York.” (You might be in New York.) 

For the formal pronunciation of this sentence there are two liaisons.

  1. The primary is the silent “S” of “vous.” Similar to earlier than this “S” turns into a “Z” sound with “êtes” because it begins with a vowel. You’ll be able to consider it as “Vous Zêtes.” 
  1. The second is the silent “S” of “êtes” additionally turning into a “Z” sound because it goes into “à.” 

Altogether the sentence shall be pronounced “Vous Z-êtes Z-à New York.” 

In on a regular basis dialog, the primary liaison on “Vous Z-êtes” is finished, however the second, “Z-à,” shouldn’t be. So, for casual conversations the sentence is pronounced “Vous Z-êtes à Paris.

Saying es

Lastly take the sentence “Tu es grand” (You might be tall). 

In a proper dialog, it’s pronounced because it’s written. Understand that phonetically, es in French sounds just like the lengthy A sound in English, “ay.” The “s” is silent! 

However, in on a regular basis dialog, the “U” disappears from “tu” and the “T” blends with “es” forming “T’es grand.” The “s” stays silent. 

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