In French, regular verbs with the infinitive verb form that ends in -re follow a conjugation pattern that makes it much easier to memorize which verb endings should go with which subjects of the sentence. -RE verbs make up the third and smallest group of the major verb conjugation patterns (the other two are the -ER verbs and the -IR verbs).

Regular -RE verbs

In present tense, the regular -re verb pattern is to:

drop the -re and add…
je ____s nous ____ons
tu ____s vous ____ez
il ____ ils ____ent

For example:

vendre (to sell)
je vends nous vendons
tu vends vous vendez
il vend ils vendent

Other common regular -RE verbs

  • Rendre (to give something)
  • Perdre (to lose)
  • Prendre (to take)
  • Répondre (to answer)

Irregular -RE verbs

Many -re verbs appear as if they should follow the regular -re pattern, but they do not. Do not be tempted to apply a regular conjugation pattern to the verbs below.

On the bright side, many -re verbs do follow a general pattern of applying -s, -s, and -t or nothing to some form of the infinitive on the left-hand side of the chart (the singular side), and the traditional -ons, -ez, -ent endings to some form of the verb on the right-hand side (the plural side).

mettre (to put or place)
je mets nous mettons
tu mets vous mettez
il met ils mettent
dire (to say)
je dis nous disons
tu dis vous dites*
il dit ils disent
lire (to read)
je lis nous lisons
tu lis vous lisez
il lit ils lisent
écrire (to write)
j’écris nous écrivons
tu écris vous écrivez
il écrit ils écrivent
boire (to drink)
je bois nous buvons
tu bois vous buvez
il boit ils boivent
croire (to believe)
je crois nous croyons
tu crois vous croyez
il croit ils croient
connaître (to know or recognize)
je connais nous connaissons
tu connais vous connaissez
il connaît ils connaissent

*Pay special attention to the vous conjugation of dire. Many students get this one wrong. It may help you to remember that it is similar to the vous conjugation of faire (vous faites).

Pronunciation of the -RE verb endings

On the left side of the chart (the singular conjugations), the final s is not pronounced on the je and tu forms. Similarly, since no letter is added on the il/elle form (or, as in the case of the irregular verbs above, the il/elle form is pronounced exactly the same way as the je and tu forms), the last sound heard is the final consonant of that verb before the ending.

The pronunciation pattern on the plural side follows the same rules as with regular -er verbs, including not pronouncing the -ent ending on the ils/elles form.

Past tense of -RE verbs

Most -re verbs have a past participle that ends in u. For regular -re verbs, simply drop the -re ending and add a u in its place.

Je rends (present) → J’ai rendu (past)

Il vend (present) → Il a vendu (past)

Nous perdons (present) → Nous avons perdu (past)

Irregular past participles for -RE verbs

Just as with present tense conjugations, certain common -re verbs have irregular past participles. Also, some -re verbs that are regular in the present tense may be irregular in the past tense. However, they still often end in the letter -u, like with regular -re verbs. Other times they may end in -is or -it.

Mettre → J’ai mis

Prendre → J’ai pris

Dire → J’ai dit

Lire → J’ai lu

Écrire → J’ai écrit

Boire → J’ai bu

Croire → J’ai cru

Connaître → J’ai connu

-RE verbs conjugated with être

Finally, certain common -re verbs use être instead of avoir as a helping verb in order to construct the past tense (passé composé). They are:

  • Naître → Je suis né (NOT “j’ai né”)
  • Descendre → Tu es descendu (NOT “tu as descendu”)

If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, our lesson on verbs that take être in the past tense might be helpful.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email