Lesson 5: Recreation

Regular -er Verbs


Most French verbs fall into the category of -er verbs. To conjugate, drop the -er to find the “stem” or “root”. Add endings to the root based on the subject and tense.

French Grammar • Recreation
-er Verb Formation Formation de verbes en -er
jouer – to play
pronoun ending verb
je -e joue
tu -es joues
il/elle -e joue
nous -ons jouons
vous -ez jouez
ils/elles -ent jouent

Elision and Liaison

In all conjugations, je changes to j ‘ when followed by a vowel or silent h. Example: J’attends, J’habite…. If a phrase is negative, ne changes to n’.
In all plural forms, the s at the end of each subject pronoun, normally unpronounced, becomes a z sound and the n of on becomes pronounced when followed by a vowel.

Common -er Verbs

French Grammar • Recreation
Formation of Common -er Verbs Formation des verbes communs en -er
Infinitive Stem Present Indicative Conjugation
First Person Second Person Third Person
parler parl Je parle Tu parles Il parle Singular
to speak Nous parlons Vous parlez Ils parlent Plural
habiter habit J’habite Tu habites Il habite Singular
to live Nous habitons Vous habitez Ils habitent Plural
écouter écout J’écoute Tu écoutes Il écoute Singular
to listen Nous écoutons Vous écoutez Ils écoutent Plural


The verb s’amuser means to have fun in English. It is a type of pronominal verb (a verbb that includes a pronoun as part of it) called a reflexive verb, which means that the action of the verb is reflected back onto the subject. Literally translated, the verb means To amuse oneself.


French Grammar • Recreation
Formation of Common -er Verbs Formation des verbes communs en -er
Infinitive Stem Present Indicative Conjugation
First Person Second Person Third Person
s’amuser amus Je m’amuse Tu t’amuses Il s’amuse Singular
to have fun Nous nous amusons Vous vous amusez Ils s’amusent Plural

Conjugated Verb + Infinitive

Like in English, some verbs can be followed by infinitives. The most common -er verbs used in this manner are aimer and détester.

  • J’aime parler. – I like to talk.
  • Nous détestons travailler. – We hate working.

When negating a sentence, remember that the negative goes around the conjugated verb.

  • Je n’aime pas parler. – I don’t like to speak.


Here is a short dialog about people planning/doing leisure activities. Besides the new vocabulary you should also have a look at how the verbs are conjugated depending on the subject of the sentence.

  • Jean-Paul : Qu’est-ce que vous faites ?
  • Marc et Paul : Nous jouons au tennis.
  • Marie : Je finis mes devoirs.
  • Michel : J’attends mon amie.
  • Pierre : Je vais au parc.
  • Christophe : Je viens du stade.


Qu’est-ce que vous faites? What are you doing?
jouer to play
finir to finish
attendre to wait (for)
aimer to like
détester to hate
(mon) ami(e) (my) friend

Finir and attendre are not -er verbs. You will learn their conjugation in a later lesson.
Mon is often substituted for ma when the following word begins with a vowel. Thus, mon amie is used instead of ma amie, while ma bonne amie would be okay.


la bibliothèque library1
le parc park
la piscine swimming pool
la plage beach
le restaurant restaurant
salle de concert concert hall
le stade stadium
le théâtre theater

1Caution: a librairie is a bookshop.

Indirect Object Pronouns lui and leur

Indirect objects are prepositional phrases with the object of the preposition, a direct object is a noun that receives the action of a verb.

  • Il jette la balle à Jacques. – He throws the ball to Jack.
  • Il jette la balle à Marie. – He throws the ball to Mary.
  • Il jette la balle à Jacques et Marie. – He throws the ball to Jack and Mary.

Lui and leur are indirect object pronouns. They replace nouns referring to people and mean to him/her and to them respectively.

  • lui – replaces a singular masculine or feminine indirect object referring to a human
  • leur – replaces a plural masculine or feminine indirect object referring to a human

An example follows:

  • Il lui jette la balle. – He throws the ball to him.
  • Il lui jette la balle. – He throws the ball to her.
  • Il leur jette la balle. – He throws the ball to them.

Whether lui means to him or to her is given by context.
In English, “He throws him the ball” is also said, and means the same thing.
When used with the direct object pronouns le, la, and les, lui and leur come after those pronouns.

  • Il la lui jette. – He throws it to him.

Note that while le, la, and les are used to replace people or inanimate objects, lui and leur are not used to replace innanimate objects and things.
Also note that unlike le and la, which are shortened to l’ when followed by a vowel, lui is never shortened


The verb jouer is a regular -er verb meaning to play. It can be used to refer to both sports and instruments.
When referring to sports, use jouer à, but when referring to instruments, use jouer de…
As always, jouer must be conjugated rather than left in the infinitive.

French Vocabulary • Recreation
Play Jouer
jouer à… jouer de…
au baseball baseball de la clarinette clarinet
au basket basketball du piano piano
au football soccer; football de la guitare guitar
au football américain American football du violon violin
au golf golf de la batterie drums
in French)
au tennis tennis
au volley volleyball
aux cartes cards
aux dames checkers/ draughts
aux échecs chess