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The French verb prendre and its derivatives : use and conjugation

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

In the list of the must-know French verbs, those that you need to learn to unlock a great number of expressions and develop your understanding of the language, you should add the French verb prendre which primarily means to take in English.

In this post, you will see that prendre can signify lots of different things depending on the context and you will learn how to conjugate to take in French in common tenses like the present, future, imparfait, passé composé, conditional, and subjunctive tense. Keep on reading to learn more.

The French verb prendre and its derivatives

What is the actual meaning of the French verb prendre?

Like faire, aller, être or avoir, the verb prendre is one of the most useful French verbs. The English translation of prendre is to take. But to take can have different meanings depending on the situations or contexts of use. Prendre can mean to catch, hold, take in, pick up, seize, capture, ...

Generally, the verb prendre is used when talking about

  • means of transport (bus, train, métro, taxi, avion, ... : e.g je prends le bus pour aller à l’école. => I go to school by bus.

  • objects; e.g Elle prend son ordinateur avec elle. => She is taking her laptop with her.

  • Directions; e.g Prenez la première rue à votre droite => Take the first street on your right.

  • food or drinks; e.g Nous prenons notre petit déjeuner ensemble. => We take our breakfast together.

The verb prendre is also used in lots of idiomatic expressions like se prendre la tête, prendre ses jambes à son cou, prendre quelqu’un en fragrant délit, and more. In these cases, the meaning of prendre is not to be taken literally but in the context.

How to conjugate the verb prendre and its derivatives in the French language?

The conjugation of the verb prendre has irregular patterns. You have no other choice but to learn it by heart, preferably in context.

If you know how to use the verb prendre you’ll unlock the conjugation of it's derivatives like

  • comprendre : to understand

  • apprendre : to learn

  • désapprendre : to unlearn

  • se déprendre: to get rid of, to distance oneself form something

  • se méprendre :to be mistaken about

  • surprendre: to surprise, to amaze

  • s'éprendre: to become passionate about something, to fall in love

  • reprendre: to take back

  • entreprendre : to undertake

Below is it’s conjugation in some key tenses like present tense, imperfect, simple future, passé composé, conditional and more.

For the future tense, the stem is PRENDR to which you should add the usual endings.

For the passé composé and other compound tenses like conditionnel passé, plus-que-parfait, the past participle of prendre is pris.

So for the derivatives the past participles will be, compris, appris, désappris, dépris, mépris, surpris, repris, entrepris.


Je prends

Tu prends

Il/elle prend

Nous prenons

Vous prenez

Ils/elles prennent


Je prenais

Tu prenais

Il/elle prenait

Nous prenions

Vous preniez

Ils/elles prenaient


Je prendrai

Tu prendras

Il/elle prendra

Nous prendrons

Vous prendrez

Ils/elles prendront

Passé composé J'ai pris

Tu as pris

Il/elle a pris

Nous avons pris

Vous avez pris

Ils/elles ont pris


Je prendrais

Tu prendrais

Il/elle prendrait

Nous prendrions

Vous prendriez

Ils prendraient


Que je prenne

Que tu prennes

Qu'il/elle prenne

Que nous prenions

Que vous preniez

Qu'ils prennent

Conjugation French verb prendre

Daily Expressions with prendre that you should know

After learning how to use the verb to take in French, it will be great knowing few expressions that you can make use of most often.

Here is a list of 10 common expressions used daily with the verb prendre with their English translation.

  • Prendre des médicaments => to take medecines

  • Prendre une douche/un bain => to take a shower/bath

  • Prendre le bus/le train/le taxi = > to take the bus/the train/the taxi

  • Prendre son petit déjeuner => to take the breakfast

  • Prendre ses clés = to take one’s keys

  • Prendre un congé = to take a leave

  • Prendre congé = to leave

  • Prendre des cours => to take classes

  • prendre son temps => to take one’s time

  • prendre sa température => to take one's temperature.

  • Prendre l’habitude => to get into the habit

  • prendre froid => to get cold

  • prendre du poids => to gain some weight

  • prendre service => to start working

  • prendre connaissance: to take note of sthg, to be aware

  • prendre des nouvelles:

  • prendre le relais: to take over

  • s'en prendre à quelqu'un: to go after someone

  • mal prendre quelque chose: to take something the wrong way

  • Ne le prends pas mal: dont take it the wrong way

  • se faire prendre: to get caught

Practice on the verb Prendre and its derivatives

To help you master the verb Prendre and its derivatives in the present tense, take our test below. In this exercise, you are supposed to conjugate in the present tense the verb between brackets. The objective is for you to see the similarities in the conjugation of Prendre and all the verbs formed from it.

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