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Penser Meaning & Translation – To Think in French

Penser Meaning & Translation – To Think in French

Today we’ll have a look at the commonly used verb penser, which means to think. Specifically, we’ll look at the differences between penser de (to think of), penser à (to think about) and penser que (to think that). Est-ce que tu penses que c’est une bonne idée? Do you think it’s a good idea? Let’s begin!


to think

Penser – to think

Word origin

The modern French verb penser (to think) comes from pensare in Latin.


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

Je pense I think
Tu penses You think (singular, informal)
Il, elle pense He, she thinks
Nous pensons We think
Vous pensez You think (plural, formal)
Ils, elles pensent They think

Example sentences

For these first two example sentences, penser de means “to think of” or “to think about”.

Qu’est-ce que tu penses de cette situation ? – Je n’ai aucune opinion.

What do you think of this situation? I have no opinion.

Qu’est-ce que tu pense de mon frère?

What do you think of my brother?

For this example, penser à + person means “to think about + person”. The word lui in this sentence is a stressed pronoun meaning “him”.

Je pense à mon frère. Je pense à lui.

I’m thinking about my brother. I’m thinking about him.

In French, penser que means “to think that” or “to believe that”.

Est-ce que vous pensez que c’est une bonne idée?

Do you think it’s a good idea?

For this next sentence, “je pense que oui” means “I think so”.

Est-ce que Martin va venir ? – Je pense que oui.

Is Martin going to come? I think so?

For this sentence, to say “I don’t think so”, you can say “je pense que non” or “je ne pense pas”.

Est-ce que Sylvie va venir ? – Je pense que non.

I Sylvia going to come? I don’t think so.

Penser vs réfléchir

The verb réfléchir also means to think. However, it’s used in the context of “to reflect” or “to ponder”.

Il faut bien réfléchir avant de prendre une décision.

You have to think before making a decision.


Et voilà ! Now you know how to use penser in French! Now check our our lesson covering the verb bosser (to work, to work hard).

French word of the day: Penser (to think)

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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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