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Top 10 Most Frequently Used French Verbs Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Grammar, People, Vocabulary

There are countless ways of building a strong French vocabulary. One way to go is to learn the maximum of verbs. A good source for that is the very popular “501 French Verbs” by Christopher Kendris.

But how to know which ones to start memorizing? After all, not all verbs are born equal in the eyes of the new students of French language!

We have already tackled this subject in a previous post: The 100 Most Frequently Used French Verbs.

Today, we’ll focus on the Top 10 of them, and illustrate them with easy-to-understand examples:

1. Être (To Be)

Shakespeare wondered: “Être ou ne pas être, telle est la question” (“To be or not to be, that is the question.”)

2. Avoir (To Have)

J’ai tout le temps du monde pour apprendre le français” (“I have all the time in the world to learn French.”)

3. Faire (To Do)

Que faire?” (“What to do?”)

4. Dire (To Say)

Je dois vous dire quelque chose” (“I have to tell you something.”)

5. Pouvoir (to Be Able to)

Puis-je vous aider?” (“Can I help you?”)

6. Aller (To Go)

Désolé, mais je dois m’en aller” (“Sorry, but I have to leave”)

7. Voir (To See)

Mais puisque je vous dis que je l’ai vu avec mes propres yeux!” (“But I tell you that I’ve seen it with my own eyes!”)

8. Savoir (To Know)

Ça, tout le monde le sait” (“That, everyone knows.”)

9. Vouloir (To Want)

Que me voulez-vous?(“What do you want from me?”)

10.Venir (To Come)

Je viens vous annoncer une bonne nouvelle” (“I come to tell you good news.”)

* * *

Finally, I have to direct you to one of the best ways to improve your French in no-time, or at least learn the basics that allow you to survive a short trip in France or a Francophone country:

The Basic French Phrases and the French Phrases for Meeting and Greeting will give you enough confidence to start a French Dialog!

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Comments:

  1. Valèrie:

    Good one. I have learnt from the 10 most frequently used French verbs.Merci

  2. Romu37:

    Bonjour,

    I don’t agreee with #2 :

    ” “J’ai tout le temps du monde pour apprendre le français” (“I have all the time in the world to learn French.”) ”

    The translation is correct, BUT this is not what the sentence means.

    Even if “tout le temps du monde” can actually be understood as “all the time in the world”, the idiom is scarcely heard in everyday French. On the contrary “avoir du monde” + “tout le temps” are very common idiomatic expressions. And that’s what a native speaker understands in this sentence.

    Indeed, the meaning changes :

    1- J’ai [tout le temps du monde] pour apprendre le français
    = I have a lot of time to learn French

    2- [J’ai [tout le temps] du monde] pour apprendre le français
    = People come to me all the time to learn French

    • Hichem:

      @Romu37 Bonsoir Jean-Christian, and thank you for your comment!

      I am glad to hear about your opinion about sentence #2.

      I must say, however, that you did not support it with evidence.

      The French idiom in question, “avoir tout le temps du monde” (and not just “tout le temps du monde“), may be “scarcely heard” to you or to some people, but it is not “scarcely used” in French.

      Evidence of its common use?

      Not just because it is also a native speaker who tells it to you (don’t take it from me), but because there are many examples of its use. Here are two (there are more, of course):

      * “Courtois, rusé, paraissant toujours avoir tout le temps du monde pour arriver à ses fins” (George Groussard, “L’Armée et ses drames“, 1968)
      Clearly in the sense of “having all the time in the world”, not “having people all the time.”

      * “Ils traversent le parc, au rythme paisible de ceux qui croient avoir tout le temps du monde pour se connaître” (Jean-Claude Dunyach, “Voleurs de silence“, 1992) Ditto.

      This phenomenon of “ambiguous interpretation” (that’s why “the meaning changes”, like you noticed) is nothing new in French language, nor is it in other languages.

      It is known as “associativity”, the basis of which is actually purely logical.

      To take a simple math example, consider this:

      There is no ambiguity about real numbers using simple addition (+), because “associativity” is satisfied, i.e.: ((1+2)+3) = (1+(2+3)) = 6. So the “meaning does not change.”
      On the other hand, when we have real numbers with division (/), associativity is clearly not satisified, i.e. ((1/2)/3) is not equal to (1/(2/3)). Here, the “meaning changes.”

      Just like with Math, there are some sentences (in French or other languages) which change their meaning according to where you put your parathensis of interpretation!

      Thank you again for the comment.

      Cordialement

  3. Jeff:

    The infinitives of all 10 are easy; proper conjugation on the other hand…