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Être Conjugation: How To Conjugate The Verb To Be In French

Être Conjugation: How To Conjugate The Verb To Be In French

How to conjugate the French verb être

Être is one of the single most important and common French verbs in the entire language. The meaning of être is “to be”. The conjugation of être in the present tense is: Je suis (I am), Tu es (you are, familiar), Il, elle, on est (He, she, one is), Nous sommes (We are), Vous êtes (You are) and Ils, elles sont (They are). This post covers conjugations of être in 12 verb tenses with example sentences. Keep reading.

Être (to be)

Être is an irregular verb. This means that when conjugated, its endings are different from regular verbs in the -re group. In addition, être is used as an auxiliary verb in addition to avoir in the passé composé for intransitive and reflexive verbs.

Further down this page, we’ve listed the verb conjugation charts for être in the following tenses. Keep reading as we’ve provided lots of example sentences for each tense.

  • present tense (le présent de l’indicatif)
  • compound past (le passé composé)
  • simple past (le passé simple)
  • imperfect (l’imparfait)
  • pluperfect (plus-que-parfait)
  • near future (le futur proche)
  • simple future (le futur simple)
  • past future (le futur antérieur)
  • conditional mood (le présent du conditionnel)
  • present subjunctive (le subjonctif)
  • imperative (l’impératif)
  • gerund (le géronif).
Être conjugation in six tenses

How to use Être

State of being

The first usage of être is to express states of being. To form these sentences use the following grammatical construction: Je suis + adjective

Here are some examples:


The second most common usage of être is to describe location.

  • Je suis en France. I’m in France.
  • Je suis en Angleterre. I’m in England.
  • Je suis aux États-Unis. I’m in the United States.
  • Il est dans le salon. He’s in the living room.
  • Nous sommes dans la cuisine. We’re in the kitchen.
  • Elle est dans la salle de bains. She’s in the bathroom.

This page covers geographical prepositions for places and countries, which can be confusing.


The verb être is also used in the idiomatic expression être d’accord avec, which means to agree.

  • Je suis d’accord avec vous. I agree with you.
  • Je ne suis pas d’accord avec vous. I don’t agree with you.
  • Êtes-vous d’accord avec moi? Do you agree with me?

Auxiliary verb for passé composé

Être is used as an auxiliary verb used in the passé composé for verbs of movement as well as pronominal (reflexive) verbs.

  • Je suis allé(e) en France. I went to France.
  • Nous sommes restés à la maison. We stayed home.
  • Elle s’est levée à 8h00. She got up at eight o’clock.

Present progressive indicative (en train de)

The grammatical construction être en train de + infinitive is used to describe being in the middle of doing something.

  • Je suis en train de travailler. I am working.
  • Je suis en train d’étudier ces verbes. I’m learning these verbs.
  • Je suis en train de laver la voiture. I’m washing the car.


To describe ownership or possession of an object you can use the following: être à + name of person or stress pronoun (moi, toi, lui, elle etc).

  • Le stylo est à moi. The pen is mine or belongs to me.
  • La voiture est à elle. The car is hers or belongs to her.
  • La maison est à eux. The house is theirs.


Being on time, early or late. You can also use être to describe punctuality. This lesson covers how to tell time in French.

ere conjugated in different tenses

Être conjugation charts

The following section contains the conjugation tables of être in all the major tenses with example sentences.

Present tense (present indicative)

The following table shows the verb être conjugated in the present tense (le présent de l’indicatif).

Je suisI amJe suis en vacances. I am on vacation.
Tu es You are (familiar)Tu es français. You are French.
Il, elle, on estHe, she, one isElle est en retard.She is late.
Nous sommesWe areNous sommes à Paris.We are in Paris.
Vous êtes You are (formal, plural)Vous êtes en ville. You are downtown.
Ils sont, elles sontThey areIls sont au cinémaThey are are the movies.
Être conjugation French

Compound past (passé composé)

The passé composé is a past tense that’s used to describe past actions which occurred at a specific moment in time.

The French passé composé equates to the simple past or the present perfect in English.

Être is formed in the passé composé by combing avoir in the present tense with the past participle été. Hence, “J’ai été” translates to “I was” or “I had been”.

J'ai étéI wasj'ai été au supermarché hier après-midi.I was at the supermarket yesterday afternoon.
Tu as étéYou were (familiar)Tu as été au café hier matin.You were at the café yesterday morning.
Il, elle, on étéHe, she, one wasElle a été chez elle hier soir. She was at home last night.
Nous avons été We wereNous avons été au parc avec les enfants.We were at the park with the kids.
Vous avez étéYou were (formal, plural)Vous avez été au restaurant avec vous amis.You were at the restaurant with your friends.
Ils, elles étéThey wereIls ont été chez nous ce midi. The were at our house at noon.

Passive voice with the past participle of être

The past participle of être, “été” is also used to form a past tense of the French passive voice. Here are some example sentences:

  • Le bâtiment a été construit en 1981. The building was built in 1981.
  • L’histoire a été écrite par un grand écrivain. The story was written by a great author.

Simple past (passé simple)

The passé simple is a literary past tense that equates grammatically to the passé composé.

While not necessary to memorize perfectly, it is a good idea to recognize the third-person singular and plural forms: Il/elle fut translates to “He/she was” and Ils/elles furent translates to “they were”.

Je fusI wasJe fus à Paris la semaine dernière.I was in Paris last week.
Tu fusYou were (familiar)Tu fus très gentil avec les invités. You were very kind with the guests.
Il, elle, on futHe, she, one wasIl fut un grand artiste. He was a great artist.
Nous fûmesWe wereNous fûmes a l'hopital hier matin.We were at the hospital yesterday morning.
Vous fûtesYou were (formal, plural)Vous fûtes un homme honorable.You were an honorable man.
Ils, elles furentThey wereIls furent contre notre pays.They were against our country.

Imperfect indicative (imparfait)

The imperfect indicative (imparfait) tense is to describe past events who do not have a precise start and stop time.

For the verb être, the imperfect is formed by adding the appropriate ending to the stem “ét”. Thus, “J’étais” translates to both “I was” and “I used to be”.

J'étaisI was, used to beQuand j'étais un enfant, faisais du chaque week-end.When I was a child, I used to ski every weekend.
Tu étaisYou were, used to be (familiar)Tu étais tres mignon quand tu étais un enfant. You were very cute when you were a child.
Il, elle, on étaitHe, she, one was, used to beElle était une étudiante à Paris aux années 80.She was a student in France in the 1980s.
Nous étionsWe were, used to beNous étions très heureux ensemble. We were very happy together.
Vous étiezYou were, used to be (plural, formal)Vous étiez très fatigué après le voyage.You were very tired after the trip.
Ils, elles étaientThey were, used to beIls n'étaient pas en retard.They were not late.

Pluperfect (plus-que-parfait)

The French pluperfect (plus-que-parfait) is a tense that’s used to express anteriority (one event occurring before another).

For the verb être, it is formed by combining avoir in the imperfect with the past participle été. Hence. “J’avais été” translates to “I had been”.

J'avais étéI had beenJ'avais été en retard. I had been late.
Tu avais étéYou had been (familiar)Tu avais été au cinéma avec tes amis.You had been at the movies with your friends.
Il, elle, on avait étéHe, she, one had beenIl avait été fatigué le jour de l'examen.He had been tired on the day of the exam.
Nous avions étéWe had beenNous avions été à l'heure pour la fête.We had been on time for the party.
Vous aviez étéYou had been (formal, plural)Vous aviez été trop injuste avec les enfants. You were too unfair with the kids.
Ils, elles avaient étéThey had beenIls avaient été tres généreux avec les invités.The had been very generous with the guests.
je vais être

Near future (futur proche)

The near future tense (futur proche) is used to describe future events which suggest a high level of certainty.

For the verb être, the future tense is formed by combining the present tense of aller (to go) with the infinitive. Hence, “Je vais être” means “I’m going to be”.

Je vais êtreI'm going to beJe vais être très riche un jour. I'm going to be very rich some day.
Tu vas êtreYou're going to be (familiar)Tu vas être en retard.You are doing to be late.
Il, elle, on va êtreHe, she, one will beElle va être très belle.She is going to be very beautiful.
Nous allons êtreWe will beNous allons être des parents. We are going to be parents.
Vous allez êtreYou will be (formal, plural)Vous allez être fatigué après le voyage.You are going to be tired after the trip.
Ils, elles vont êtreThey will be Ils vont être contents dans la nouvelle maison.They will be happy in the new house.

Simple future (futur simple)

The futur simple, also simply called the “French future tense“, is used to describe future events. The events this tense describes are usually a bit less certain that those of the previous near future tense.

To form the futur simple for the verb être, add the appropriate ending to the stem, “-ser”. Hence, “Je serai” means “I will be”.

Je seraiI will beJe serai ravi de vous rencontrer.I will be delighted to meet you.
Tu serasYou will be (informal)J'espère que tu seras heureux.I hope you will be happy.
Il, elle, on seraHe, she, one will beNous pensons qu'elle sera en retard.We think she'll be late.
Nous seronsWe will beNous serons disponibles la semaine prochaine.We will be available next week.
Vous servezYou will be (formal, plural)Il croit que vous serez un peu déçu.He thinks you will be a bit disappointed.
Ils, elles serontThey will beJe ne sais pas s'ils seront ici demain.I do not know if they will be here tomorrow.
je serai

Past future (futur antérieur)

The past future tense (futur antérieur) is used to describe events that will have occurred in the future.

For the verb être, this tense is formed by combining the simple future of avoir (to have) as an auxiliary verb with the past participle of être. Hence, “J’aurai été” translates to “I will have been”.

J'aurai étéI will have been
Tu auras été You will have been (familiar)
Il, elle, on aura étéHe, she, one will have been
Nous aurons étéWe will have been
Vous aurez étéYou will have been (formal, plural)
Ils, elles auront étéThey will have been

Conditional mood (présent du conditionnel)

The French conditional tense is used to describe hypothetical situations. This the “would” tense.

For the verb être, it is formed by attaching the appropriate ending to the stem “-ser”. Hence, “Je serais” translates to “I would be”.

Je seraisI would beJe serais plus à l'aise si j'avais plus de temps.I'd be more at ease if I had more time.
Tu seraisYou would be (familair)Est-ce que tu serais prêt a commencer demain?Would you be ready to start tomorrow?
Il, elle seraitHe, she would beIls serait plus ambitieux s'il avait un objectif.He would be more ambitious if he had a goal.
Nous serionsWe would beNous serions très heureux de faire un voyage.We would be very happy to go on a trip.
Vous seriezYou would be (formal, plural)Vous seriez plus motivé si vous faisiez plus d'effort. You would be more motivated if you tried harder.
Ils, elles seraientThey would beIls seraient déçu s'ils n'achetaient les billets.They would be disappointed if they didn't buy the tickets.

Present subjunctive (subjonctif)

The French subjunctive mood (le subjonctif) is used to express wishes, emotions and doubts. In the first-person singular form “que je sois” translates to “that I be”.

que je sois
that I beJe veux que tu sois patient.I want you to be patient.
que tu sois
that you be (familiar)Il faut que tu sois gentil.You have to be nice.
qu'il, elle, on soitthat he, she, one beJe doute qu'il soit prudent. I doubt he's being careful.
que nous soyonsthat we be Il veut que nous soyons sages.He wants us to behave.
que vous soyezthat you be (formal, plural)Elle souhaite que vous là avant là départ.She wants you to be there before the departure.
qu'ils, elles soientthat they beJe ne pense pas qu'ils soitent d'accord.I don't think they agree.

Imperative (impératif)

The imperative mood (impératif) is used to express both positive and negative commands. For the negation, ne…pas gets wrapped around the verb.

Positive commands

Sois! Be! (tu form, familiar)Sois patient!Be patient!
Soyons! Let's be!Soyons à l'heure! Let's be on time!
Soyez!Be! (vous form, formal, plural)Soyez gentils! Be nice!

Negative commands

Ne sois pas!Don't be! ne sois pas si bête!Don't be so silly!
Ne soyons pas! Let's not be!Ne soyons pas pressés!Let's not be in a rush!
Ne soyez pas!Don't beNe soyez pas tristes!Don't be sad!


The French gerund is a combination of the preposition “en” and the present participle. The present participle of être is “étant“.

The gerund of être is “en étant”, which translates to “while being”.

  • J’ai trouvé mon premier boulet en étant un étudiant en Asie.
    I found my first job while being a student in Asia.

The present participle “étant” as a second usage. When placed before the past participle of one of the verbs which uses être as an auxiliary verb in the passé composé, it means “having”. For example:

  • Étant arrivé à l’heure, j’ai pu diner avec la famille.
    Having arrived on time, I was able to have dinner with the family.

Auxiliary verb in passé composé for intransitive and reflexive verbs

The verb être is used as an auxiliary (helping) verb to for the passé composé for both intransitive verbs (verbs where the subject and object are the same) and reflexive verbs.

Aller = to goSe laver = to wash oneself
Je suis allé(e)I wentJe me suis lavé(e)I washed myself
Tu es allé(e)You went (familar)Tu t'es lavé(e)You washed yourself (familiar)
Il, elle, on est allé(e)He, she, one wentIl, elle, on s'est lavé(e)He, she, one washed him, her, oneself
Nous sommes allé(e)sWe wentNous nous sommes lavé(e)sWe washed ourselves
Vous êtes allé(e)(s)You went (formal, plural)Vous vous êtes lavé(e)(s)You washed yourself(ves) (formal, plural)
Ils, elles sont sont allé(e)sThey wentIls, elles se sont lavé(e)sThey washed themselves.

Pronounce the forms of “être” like an expert!
In addition to mastering the basic conjugations, it’s of vital importance to know know how to pronounce the various forms of être and how to use them in “real” modern conversation.

This is were Camille at comes in. In this post on être, Camille covers the pronunciation “être” in great detail, offering 450 audio samples in all the main tenses.

Discover more:

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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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