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Number of distinct conjugations

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Mary Anne

Kwiziq community member

14 September 2017

6 replies

Number of distinct conjugations

Does anybody know how many distinct conjugations patterns there are in French? Three groups, as we know is a big understatement. Accounting for spelling changes and all irregularities, how many patterns must we learn to master French? Merci.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

14 September 2017

14/09/17

Bonjour Mary Anne,
I certainly understand your dilemma. I, for one, have not stopped to count them, per se; however, there are numerous exceptions to the basic -er, -ir, -re verbs and, yes, then there are spelling changes and irregular verbs that fall outside of the basic conjugations. Once you have learned the basic conjugations of the First group, Second group and Third group, believe it or not it begins to come together with the spelling changes and the irregular verbs.
Much like most things in French, there are always exceptions. I believe that we have as many exceptions in English, too; we just learned them all over the course of many years of education -- whereas, with French, we are trying to learn it as a second or even third language which presents certain pressures to learn it more quickly since we have already mastered English.
The best I can offer at this point is this: be patient with yourself and persevere, as it will begin to take shape right before your eyes.
Best of luck
Bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière.

Mary Anne

Kwiziq community member

15 September 2017

15/09/17

Thank you for your remarks. I did not mean to sound exasperated. I am not. I just wanted to quantify the task ahead of me.

Mary Anne

Kwiziq community member

16 September 2017

16/09/17

I have recently read that there are 82 French verb patterns.
My source is thoughtco.com which lists top French verb books; one of which is "Bescherelle : La Conjugaison Pour Tous."
The summary of the book says, "Once you memorize these 82 patterns, you can conjugate virtually every French verb that exists."

Now, I must get to work.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 October 2017

13/10/17

Bonjour Mary Anne !

I didn't know the exact number myself, but 82 sounds about right :)

Mary Anne

Kwiziq community member

13 October 2017

13/10/17

Thank you for your input, Aurélie and Ron, I am thoroughly loving Kwiziq and have made great strides. I know I am on a long journey into French. I wanted to put a measurement on the trip- an infinite or unknown number of conjugations was just too much for me to accept. How would I understand my progress?

I turned to the print industry for an answer. My hypothesis was that conjugation books have a definite number of pages and, therefore, would provide the insight. I found the following: French Bescherelle - Complete Guide to Conjugating. The following quantification satisfies me and may be helpful to other subscribers.

Le Nouveau Bescherelle Section 2: Conjugation of French Verbs

The second section gives examples of each of the 82 patterns of verb endings in French.
ER VERBS: By far the most verbs in French end in -ER, in fact about 89% ( a bit under 7,000). There are 13 patterns of ER endings. Over 5,500 of these ER verbs (about 70%) are stock-standard regular ER verbs. The rest come under the other 12 patterns. Often the differences are very small between patterns.
IR VERBS: Around 660 IR verbs are listed, in 33 different patterns ...about 9% of French verbs,
RE VERBS: About 2% of verbs have RE endings, with about 200 RE verbs listed, in about 30 different patterns.
Some patterns are treated outside of these groups, such as avoir and être, as well as demonstrations of passive voice conjugations and reflexive verbs.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

13 October 2017

13/10/17

Bonjour Mary Anne,
Thank you for the addendum. It is indeed quite enlightening.

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