Verbal groups: how to recognize them?

The notion of verb groups can be difficult to understand for learners of French. However, it is necessary to assimilate this rule of French grammar to conjugate verbs.

There are three verb groups: first group, second group and third group verbs.

In this article, I will explain how to recognize them so that you don’t confuse them anymore.

First group verbs

First of all, it is necessary to know that a verb is always composed of the verb stem and the infinitive. The verb stem is fixed, that is to say that it never changes, even when it is conjugated. The infinitive of a verb changes according to its conjugation.

>> For example, the verb MANGER. The stem is MANG and the infinitive is ER. It is the infinitive that determines the verbal group and that will be modified according to the verb tense.

First group verbs all end in -ER. That is, the infinitive of the verb is -ER.

>> For example: PARLER, MANGER, JOUER, RIGOLER, AIMER, etc.

The verbs of the first group will therefore be conjugated according to the same pattern.

But be careful, because there is an exception with the verb ALLER. Indeed, this verb comes from the third group, which has an irregular conjugation. We will come back to this in this article.

Second group verbs

Second group verbs all end in –IR.

For example: BONDIR, SURGIR, REMPLIR, ROUGIR, etc.

They too are conjugated in the same way and have a regular conjugation.

Be careful, because some verbs ending in -IR are not of the second group.

>> For example: DORMIR, COURIR, MOURIR, etc.

So, how can you be sure that a verb is from the second group? In the second group, verbs in the plural end in -ISSONS, -ISSEZ, -ISSENT.

For example, for the verb FINIR : nous finISSONS, vous finISSEZ, ils finISSENT.

The verbs of the third group end in the plural with -ONS, -EZ and -ENT.

Third group verbs

The third group is the most difficult. It is necessary to memorize the verbs to know how to conjugate them.

These verbs from the third group can have different infinitives. They can end in -IR, -OIR, -RE or -ER (only for the verb ALLER).

For example, among the verbs of the third group there are : PRENDRE, SORTIR, FAIRE, METTRE, BOIRE, etc.

The auxiliaries ÊTRE and AVOIR are also from the third group, because their conjugation is irregular.

Tableau de conjugaison

Grammar exercise

Indicate whether the verb comes from the first group (-ER), the second group (-IR) or the third group.

DORMIR – MANGER – PRENDRE – SALUER – MOTIVER – ALLER – ROULER – FAIRE – AVOIR – BONDIR – BOIRE – VOIR – SONNER – COURIR – NAGER – CUISINER – SORTIR – METTRE – MOURIR – VIVRE

To learn more, feel free to download your free French e-book. This e-book will allow you to see or review the basics of French grammar, with many exercises.

Thank you for having paid attention to this article! I hope you found this grammar point useful. Do you have a question? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment on Your online French teacher’s blog! You want to take French classes or conversation classes? Contact me for a quote or for the program of individual or group French classes.

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Élodie – Your online French teacher

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