As part of my new shorter & simpler HOW TO videos, 2 weeks ago we conjugated one of the 2 most important French verbs: AVOIR = TO HAVE. Today, let’s focus on that 2nd very important verb: ÊTRE = TO BE.
Why is ÊTRE essential?
Not only is it a crucial verb that we constantly use but it’s also the base of a past tense called passé composé, which you could not conjugate at all without knowing the verb être in the present tense. It’s called un verbe auxiliaire, an auxiliary verb, l’auxiliaire être. Let’s conjugate it in the present tense with every single subject pronoun, and then, I’ll put it in a short sentence to give you context and more vocab at the same time. C’est parti!
Let’s conjugate ÊTRE
To be = Être
That’s called the infinitive, l’infinitif, which means it is not conjugated. Now let’s conjugate it, in the present tense.
I am = Je suis
I am a woman = Je suis une femme
You are = Tu es (casual)
You are so friendly = Tu es si gentil
She is = Elle est
She is an excellent writer = Elle est une excellente écrivaine
He is = Il est
He is always on time = Il est toujours à l’heure
We are = on est
We are six people in this group = On est six personnes dans ce groupe*
On is the singular subject pronoun for we. Is it strange to think of we as singular? Think of a unit, think of a family. A family is made up of several people so it’s plural yet you say “my family IS” so it’s also singular. On is more used in spoken French, it’s the more casual way to say we.
We are = nous sommes
We are six people in this group = Nous sommes six personnes dans ce groupe*
Nous is the plural subject pronoun for we. It’s less used in spoken French than on, which we just saw, and it’s the more formal, the more proper way to say we.
*Just to be sure you understand, the above 2 sentences mean the exact same thing and that is “We are six people in this group” The only difference is that “on” is more casual and “nous” is more “formal”
Same sentence as the one above, same meaning, only this time we sound more formal
On est six personnes dans ce groupe = Nous sommes six personnes dans ce groupe
You are = vous êtes (formal or you all)
You are American? = Vous êtes Américain?
They are = Elles sont (for an exclusively feminine group)
They are strong = Elles sont fortes
They are = Ils sont (for a masculine or a mixed group)
They are 30 minutes away from here = Ils sont à 30 minutes d’ici
One more time!
ÊTRE = TO BE
je suis = I am
tu es = you are (casual)
elle est = she is
il est = he is
on est = we are (singular + casual)
nous sommes = we are (plural + formal)
vous êtes = you are (formal or you all)
elles sont = they are (feminine)
ils sont = they are (masculine or mixed)
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