Verbes « semi-réguliers »

Semi-Regular French Verbs

Semi-regular verbs are -ER verbs which are mostly regular but whose spelling, for reasons linked to their pronunciation, will change slightly. 

Here are the main types of semi-regular verbs:

 

-CER, -GER

The letters 'c' and 'g' in these verbs are meant to be "soft" consonants: c sounds like 's', and g like 'j'. 

They'll stay soft before ei or y, but not before ao or u.

Therefore, when an ending starts by o (-ons), or a (-ais, -ais, -ait, aient...), the c becomes ç and theg becomes ge, in order to keep the sound soft.

E.g. in Le Présent:    je mange   BUT nous mangeons

                              tu commences  BUT  nous commençons

       in L'Imparfait:   il rangeait   BUT   vous rangiez

                              elles lançaient   BUT   nous lancions

 

-YER

These verbs ending in -AYER, -OYER or -UYER all see their -Y turn into an -I when conjugated in Le Présent, except for the nous and vous forms:

e.g.  nettoyer (to clean)  ->  je nettoie   /  nous nettoyons

 

-E*ER, -É*ER

In these verbs, the é or e in the last syllable of the stem becomes an è in Le Présent, except for nous and vous forms. 

Think of it like this:

When the ending is pronounced (-ons, -ez), you don't change or add the accent è.
When it is silent (-e, -es, -ent), you do change or add the accent è.

e.g.  mener  ->  je mène  BUT  nous menons

       préférer  ->  ils préfèrent    BUT   vous préférez

 

Here is a small list of common verbs following that pattern:

espérer to hope
lever to lift (up)
se lever to get up
mener to lead
préférer to prefer
emmener to take with
ramener to bring back

 

-TER, -LER

Some -TER and -LER verbs belong to the previous category: acheter, geler, modeler, peler, ...

e.g.  j'achète  /  tu gèles  /  ils modèlent ...  BUT nous pelons  /  vous achetez ...


However, verbs like jeter (to throw) and appeler (to call), instead of taking an è, will double their t or l before the silent endings in Le Présent (except for nous and vous), which changes the pronunciation in the same way as è.

e.g.  je jette  /  il appelle    BUT   nous jetons  /  vous appelez



Verbs that combine both -GER/-CER and -E*ER/-É*ER:  

Some verbs like protéger (to protect) or dépecer (to skin) combine both the irregularity of a -GER/-CER verb and a -E*ER/-É*ER verb.

e.g.   je protège  /  tu dépèces   BUT  nous protégeons   /   nous dépeçons

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