One of the most important verbs in French is Être which literally means To be. It is one of the commonly used verbs and it can serve as an auxiliary to conjugate compound tenses like passé composé. So make sure you know how to conjugate it if you want to speak fluently French.😉
Today, I’ll not be too long, I just want to share with you, in which context we use the verb to be in French and the most common tenses of its conjugation.
1. In which context do you use the verb to be in French?
The verb Être is used in the following contexts :
To give a piece of information on somebody: for example, the profession, nationality, describing somebody, emotions…
Elle est espagnole. (She is spanish.)
Je suis professeur. (I am a teacher.)
To give a piece of information on something: telling colors, size, ...
Ma robe est bleue. (My dress is blue.)
Son appartement est lumineux. (His apartment is luminous.)
To give information on a place: telling where somebody or something is.
Aline et Jeanne sont à Berlin. (Aline and Jeanne are in Berlin.)
L’ordinateur est sur la table. (The computer is on the table.)
As an auxiliary: Like the verb avoir, the verb to be is used as an auxiliary to form compound tenses like the perfect tense (passé composé), past perfect (plus que parfait), … 14 verbs and their derivates are automatically used with the auxiliary être in the past tense (naître, mourir, aller, venir, entrer, sortir, arriver, partir, monter, descendre, ...), as well as the reflexive verbs.
Je suis allée à Madagascar l’été dernier. (I went to Madagascar last summer.)
Nous sommes revenues à la maison. (We went back home.)
To ask questions : The verb Être is used in some questions like in Qu'est-ce que and est-ce que.
Qu'est-ce que tu fais le samedi? ( What do you do on Saturday?)
Qui est-ce? (Who is this?)
To tell time: The verb Être is used to ask and tell time.
Il est quelle heure? (what time is it?)
In the passive voice: To turn an active sentence to passive voice, we use the verb être.
Active : Le policier a arrêté le voleur (the policeman arrested the thief)
Passive : Le voleur a été arrêté par le policier (the thief has been arrested by the policeman)
2. How to easily conjugate the verb Être
Être is one of the irregular verbs in French. Its structure changes a lot depending on the subject. We will see how it is conjugated in different tenses. To make it simple, I made a summary of the most commonly used tenses in the picture below.
So, you will be able able to learn how to conjugate and use the French verb to be être in present, imparfait, future, conditional, subjunctive, and imperative tense.
3. Practice your conjugation of to be in French with a quiz
Now that you are done learning the conjugation of the verb Être, you might want to practice with some exercises. If that is the case, you can test yourself by taking the quiz below. Bonne chance !
For more exercises, you can explore the exercises below.
Exercice Verbe être à l'imparfait