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How to use “vivre” (to live, to be alive) in French

How to use “vivre” (to live, to be alive) in French

Today we’ll have a look at the verb vivre, which means to “to live” in French in the sense of “being alive”. We’ll do a quick contrast of vivre vs. habiter, which also means “to live”. Then, look at several example sentences which illustrate the underlying meaning of vivre. Keep reading!


to live

Vivre (French verb) to live, to be alive

Vivre – To live, to be alive

Listen to this lesson our my Spotify podcast!

Word origin

According to, the French verb vivre comes from vīvere in Latin.

Present tense conjugation

Vivre (to live) is an irregular IR verb. This means that its endings are different than regular IR verbs when conjugated in the present tense.

Je vis I live
Tu vis you live (singular, informal)
Il, elle vit he, she lives
Nous vivons we live
Vous vivez you live (plural, formal)
Ils, elles vivent they live

Example sentences

Vivre vs. habiter

For expressing where you live, the verbs vivre and habiter are more or less synonymous. For example:

Je vis à Paris. J’habite à Paris.

Both mean: I live in Paris.

While habiter could work for this next example sentence, vivre also works perfeclty fine.

Pierre vit à la campagne avec sa famille.

Pierre lives in the countryside with his family.

Sentences only using vivre

As I mentioned at the beginning of the lesson, the underlying meaning of vivre has to do with being alive. Hence, the French use the verb vivre when describing the quality of a person’s life or when he or she lived.

For this first example, les Français refers to “the French”. This lesson on our site covers the word français (French) in depth.

Les Français vivent mieux que les Américains.

The French live better than the Americans.

These next two example sentences illustrate the underlying meaning being alive or living until a certain age.

Son grand-père vit encore.

Her grandfather is still alive.

Il va vivre jusqu’à cent ans.

He’s going to live until 100 years-old.

In addition to “to live”, the underlying meaning of vivre in this next example sentence is “to go/live through” or “to experience”. This is sentence is in the passé composé, a commonly used French past tense.

Elle a vécu une vie de bonheur.

She lived a happy life.

This next example sentence illustrates the usage of the time period when a person lived.

Louis XIV a vécu au dix-septième siècle.

Louis XIV lived during the 17th century.

Related adjectives

There are two adjectives related to vivre: vivant(e), meaning “alive, living” and and vif/vive, meaning vivacious, keen or sharp.

Le poisson rouge est encore vivant.

The goldfish is still alive.

Mon oncle est une homme très vif.

My uncle is a very vivacious man.


Et voilà ! You know know how to use the verb vivre (to live) in French! Now check our our lesson covering the verb gagner, which means to win and to earn (money).

La famille vit à la campagne. = The family lives in the countryside.
La famille vit à la campagne. = The family lives in the countryside.

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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 his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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