The French verbs 'avoir & être'

Understanding Avoir and Être

The two verbs to be = "être", and to have = "avoir". The comprehension of the use of these two verbs is very important for mastering the French language. They are used with the past participle to make compound tenses.

The simplest way to remember which one to use is as follows:

  • Most verbs are conjugated with the French "avoir" (to have)
  • Verbs describing, motion and direction; and reflexive verbs for example "to wash my hair", are conjugated with the verb "être" (to be)

(Use the audio player below to listen to the pronunciation)

Examples using the verb être

Verb to be : être, present

  • I am = Je suis
  • You are = Tu es
  • He is = Il est
  • She is = Elle est
  • We are = Nous sommes
  • You are = Vous êtes
  • They are = Ils sont
  • They are =Elles sont

Verb to be : être, imperfect

  • I was = J'étais
  • You were = Tu étais
  • He was = Il était
  • She was = Elle était
  • We were = Nous étions
  • You were = Vous étiez
  • They were = Ils étaient
  • They were = Elles étaient

Verb to be : être, future

  • I will be = Je serai
  • You will be = Tu seras
  • He will be = Il sera
  • She will be = Elle sera
  • We will be = Nous serons
  • You will be = Vous serez
  • They will be = Ils seront
  • They will be = Elles seront

Examples using the verb avoir

Verb to have : avoir, present

  • I have = J'ai
  • You have = Tu as
  • He has = Il a
  • She has = Elle a
  • We have = Nous avons
  • You have = Vous avez
  • They have = Ils ont
  • They have = Elles ont

Verb to have : avoir, imperfect

  • I had = J'avais
  • You had = Tu avais
  • He had = Il avait
  • She had = Elle avait
  • We had = Nous avions
  • You had = Vous aviez
  • They had = Ils avaient
  • They had = Elles avaient

Verb to have : avoir, future

  • I will have = J'aurai
  • You will have = Tu auras
  • He will have = Il aura
  • She will have = Elle aura
  • We will have = Nous aurons
  • You will have = Vous aurez
  • They will have = Ils auront
  • They will have = Elles auront

Looking for more French verbs ?

Check out the verb tables with all the French tenses and conjugations.

Audio examples of Avoir & Être

Use the audio player to listen and learn the French verbs