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French Verb “Rester” (To Stay) Conjugation & Usages

In French, the verb rester can cause some confusion because it means “to stay” and does not mean “to rest”. In addition, there are special rules for conjugating rester in the passé composé (a French past tense). This post will examine rester in detail. Keep reading.


to stay

Rester (to stay)

Rester conjugation

Rester is a regular ER verb. This means that its endings when conjugated in the present tense are the same as all other regular ER verbs.

Je reste I stay
Tu restes you stay (informal, singular)
Il, elle, on reste he, she, one stays
Nous restons we stay
Vous restez you stay (formal, plural)
Ils, elles restent they stay

Rester: to stay

As stated above, the main usage of rester is “to stay”. For example:

Je suis fatigué et je reste chez moi aujourd’hui.

I’m tired and I’m staying home today.

In the passé composé, a commonly used French past tense used to describe past events which occured at definied times, être (to be) is used as the auxiliary (helping) verb. For example:

Nous sommes restés dans un hôtel de luxe hier soir.

We stayed in a luxury hotel yesterday night.

For this example sentence, a common mistake would be to say “Nous avons restés”. Using avoir as an auxiliary verb would be wrong. Along these lines, you cannot say “j’ai resté” and must say “je suis resté” (I stayed).

To remain

When used as an impersonal expression, il reste translates literally to “it remains” or “left”. The following example sentence could also translate to “We have 15 minutes left”.

Il ne nous reste qu’un quart d’heure.

We only have 15 minutes remaining.

This example sentences uses the negation ne…que, which means “only”. We cover this rule on our negation rules post.

Here’s another similar example:

Il me reste deux œufs dans le frigo.

I have two eggs left in the fridge.

To remain

One other common usage of rester is “to remain”. For example:

Je suis resté debout pendant tout le concert.

I remained standing during the entire concert.

How do you say “to rest”?

In French, the verb for “to rest” is se reposer. This is a reflexive verb. Thus, je me repose translates to “I rest”.


Et voilà ! Now you have a very clear understanding of how to use rester (to stay) in French. Now have a look at our post covering marcher, which means both “to walk” and “to function”.

Example of rester (to stay)

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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