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The French verb prendre and its derivatives : use and conjugation

Updated: Mar 29

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