Has the conjugation of essayer in the present tense changed over the years? I learned "j'essaye" ( a long time ago ).
No, nothing has changed. French has always supported different spellings in the conjugated forms of essayer. In fact at school I was taught "j'essaie" and was confused when I first came across the alternative form. Payer is similar.
j'essaie/essayetu essaies/essayesil essaie/essayenous essayonsvous essayezils essaient/essayent
I see that essayer in the well used 501 french verbs uses the conjugaison with a y in all forms. It does not explain any other alternative. This is quite confusing
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