About the French verb aller (to go) and its conjugation

Can we really speak French without knowing how to use the verb aller in French?

That would be very difficult as the verb to go is one of the most frequently used verbs in French language. It is among the first words used when meeting someone.

Do you recall saying  Ça va?, Comment vas-tu?  or Comment allez vous? Well, you might already be using it .

Wait ! Comment vas-tu means  how are you. Right? So, how can "to go" mean "to be "?

That’s what you will be learning in this lesson : the different uses of aller, and how it is conjugated in some common tenses that are  useful for beginners and intermediate learners.

 

1. The different uses of aller

Aller used for expressing to be

When greeting someone and asking how is doing, we use the expressions below which can both be translated in French as "how are you".

  • Comment vas-tu ? is used  in an informal situation.

  • Comment allez-vous? in a formal situation.

In this context, the verb to go (tu vas/vous allez) is equivalent to "to be"in English.

 

Aller used as an auxiliary verb in near future tense (futur proche)

 

To express the future tense, especially in a very near future, which will take place in a short period of time, we use the verb aller. This  tense is the equivalent of the English "to be going to."

Example

  • Je vais partir maintenant => I am going to leave now.

  • Il va arriver dans quelques minutes => He is going to arrive in few minutes.

Aller used for indicating a place /destination

When talking about places, we usually use the verb aller followed with a preposition (à, en, de, chez, dans, ...) to indicate a destination or the ways something is done. Aller is a verb of movement.

Example 

  • Je vais de Paris à Singapour en avion => I go from Paris to Singapore by plane

  • Je vais dans ma chambre => I am going in my bedroom.

  • Je vais chez mon ami => I am going to my friend's house.


When it is used with the preposition à, some changes might be operated depending on the article placed after it. 

  • à + le  => au

  • à + la => à  la

  • à + les => aux.

Example 

  • Je vais au marché => I am going to the market

  • Je vais à la fête => I am going to the party

  • Nous allons à l église => We are going to church 

  • Ils vont aux États Unis => They are going to the US.

Aller used as a noun

In French, The verb aller can be used as a noun. In that context,  it means a travel from one place to another or it can also mean a one way ticket.

 

Example

 

  • J'ai demandé un billet aller simple et non un  aller-retour. => I asked for a one way ticket and not for a return ticket. 

      =>Un billet aller-retour is the translation for the English word a return ticket.

2. How do you conjugate the  French verb aller ?

As you already know, there are different tenses in French. In this lesson, we will focus on some  key tenses that you might need as a beginner or intermediary  French learner.

We'll especially see the conjugation of the verb aller in present, future, past tense (passé composé, imparfait, ...), conditionnel présent, ...

The picture below is a summary of the ways to conjugate the verb to go in French.

It's important to note that in compound tenses like passé composé, plus-que-parfait, conditionnel passé, the verb to go (aller) is used with the auxiliary être.

Practice with exercises on the verb aller

Practice with online exercises to make sure you are able to use this verb perfectly.  Here is a selection of great exercises you could do.

Exercice 1 (Le Point FLE)

Exercice 2 (Ortholud)

Exercice 3 (Bout de gomme)

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