“To have” (“avoir”) and “to be” (“être”) – (French-FR)

“To have” and “to be” are the bread and butter of a new language, and so it’s a good place to start when you’re looking at learning your first verbs. You’ll also learn the personal pronouns here, and get accustomed to the idea of writing out verbs in their conjugations, i.e. the different forms the verb takes depending on the subject of the sentence.

The infinitive of a verb is its “to” form, such as “to have”, “to play”, and is usually the form you use when talking about the verb as a concept. There are three grammatical “persons”: first, second, and third. Each of these persons has a singular form and a plural form, giving a total of six combinations. The first person contains the speaker, i.e. “I” in the singular, or “we” in the plural. The second person is the person you are addressing, i.e. “you” in the singular to one person, or to a group of people, that doesn’t include the speaker. The third person is neither the speaker nor the addressee; in the singular, it can be “he”, “she”, or “it”, and in the plural “they”. It’s a good idea to get used to the terminology, if you’re not already familiar, for personal pronouns, so when you hear “second person plural” you know exactly what it refers to – plural “you”, in this case.

First person singular je I
Second person singular tu
vous (formal)
Third person singular il
First person plural nous we
Second person plural vous you
Third person plural ils (males or group of mixed gender)
elles (females)

Note that the plural form of “you”, “vous”, is also used as a polite form of address, even to a single person.


j’ai I have
tu as you have
il/elle a he/she/it has
nous avons we have
vous avez you have
ils/elles ont they have

In many languages, “to be” is the most irregular verb. For example, in English, where most verbal forms only change for the “he/she/it” form (by adding -s, e.g. “he plays”), “to be” has many different and odd forms, “I am”, “we are”. “Être” is also a particularly irregular verb in French.


je suis I am
tu es you are
il/elle est he/she/it is
nous sommes we are
vous êtes you are
ils/elles sont they are

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