French verb être: conjugation

The tables below show the conjugation of the French verb être in the various simple and compound tenses.

See below for notes on the conjugation of être

PresentPerfect

jesuis
tues
il/elleest
noussommes
vousêtes
ils/ellessont

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j'ai été
tuas été
il/ellea été
nousavons été
vousavez été
ils/ellesont été

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ImperfectPluperfect

j'étais
tuétais
il/elleétait
nousétions
vousétiez
ils/ellesétaient

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j'avais été
tuavais été
il/elleavait été
nousavions été
vousaviez été
ils/ellesavaient été

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FutureFuture-perfect

jeserai
tuseras
il/ellesera
nousserons
vousserez
ils/ellesseront

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j'aurai été
tuauras été
il/elleaura été
nousaurons été
vousaurez été
ils/ellesauront été

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ConditionalConditional perfect

jeserais
tuserais
il/elleserait
nousserions
vousseriez
ils/ellesseraient

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j'aurais été
tuaurais été
il/elleaurait été
nousaurions été
vousauriez été
ils/ellesauraient été

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Present subjunctivePerfect subjunctive

jesois
tusois
il/ellesoit
noussoyons
voussoyez
ils/ellessoient

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j'aie été
tuaies été
il/elleait été
nousayons été
vousayez été
ils/ellesaient été

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Various forms of the verb être are among the most commonly occurring French verb forms.

The verb être is also one of a few common but highly irregular French verbs:

  • It has more present tense forms than virtually any other verb;
  • It is one of only four in the language to have a 3rd person plural form ending in -ont;
  • It is one of few to have irregular subjunctive forms;
  • It practically the only verb to have an irregular stem (ét-) for the imperfect tense and present participle, not derived from the nous present tense form;
  • It has an irregular future stem.

As well as its meaning of to be, the verb être is a key verb because it has auxiliary uses in forming the passive and and in forming compound tense forms such as the perfect tense of pronominal or "reflexive" verbs and of of some "unergative" verbs (see when to use avoir and when to use être).

Part of the reason for this verb's high irregularity is that it is a merger of two Latin verbs: STARE (most forms beginning with êt- and ét-; cf Spanish estar) and ESSE (êtes and other forms; cf Spanish ser).

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Check out the French Linguistics site's reviews of the following French conjugation guides:

 Barron's 501 French Verbs
 Bescherelle La Conjugaison pour tous


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