Avoir, all you need to know about one of the most used French verb!
Hello French learners! Alex, the French native speaker, here!
Today I’m going to speak (or write, to be more precise) about the french verb Avoir!
Last week, one of my language partner asked me how works the verb “Avoir” (to have) in French, because he was struggling to conjugate and use it properly.
Indeed, le verbe avoir is one the most used irregular verb in French, it has the particularity of being one of the two auxiliary verb in French and you can see it in a lot of French expressions.
So… Yes, it can be confusing, and you may be in the same situation, because if you’re planning to improve, learn, speak, master or just be able to have a conversation in French, knowing this verb is definitely essential.
That’s why, today, I’ll give anything you need to know to become the King of the verb Avoir!
As usual, I made a recap sheet on which you have a summary of all you need to know. And like the French expression says; “Je l’ai faite avec amour” (I made it with love) 🙂
So, if you’re in a hurry, or if you want to keep this as a reminder, feel free to download it!
Conjugation of Avoir
As you know, “Avoir” is an irregular verb, so you can’t follow the traditional pattern to conjugate it.
There’s no magic solution, you have to learn it.
Don’t worry, it’s not really hard, especially because you can hear it in almost every French conversation. (mainly because he’s an auxiliary)
I give you its conjugated forms in the three most important tenses in French just below:
• Tu as
• Il/elle/on a
• Nous avons (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Vous avez (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Ils/Elles ont (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Tu avais
• Il/Elle/On avait
• Nous avions (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Vous aviez (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Ils/Elles avaient (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Tu auras
• Il/Elle/On aura
• Nous aurons (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Vous aurez (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
• Ils/Elles auront (Don’t forget “la liaison”)
There we are!
I take this opportunity to remember you two French rules:
• Je or J’ ?
“When the word following Je starts with a vowel, then Je become J’.” (It’s the same rule for De and D’, Se and S’, Ce and C’…).
• A pronunciation rule now, la liaison.
“When a word that ends in a silent consonant is followed by a word that starts in a vowel, then the (normally) silent consonant is pronounced to link the two words.”
We can see those two rules in the conjugation sheets up there.
Looks like math theorems, right? Ultimately, this comparison makes sense, and we could say that French has its own theorems too! 🙂
That’s why I think it’s important to point out French rules each time we have the opportunity. That way you’ll learn to see them coming and, by extension, learn to no longer make mistakes.
Avoir as an auxiliary
As you know, Avoir is one of the two French auxiliary verbs with Être (to be).
An auxiliary is a verb you mix up with a main verb to create a compound tense, like Le passé composé.
And le passé composé is THE tense you’ll hear the most in spoken French to express the past.
I’m going to briefly summarize how works Le passé composé in French, just in case you need a refresher.
To use le passé composé, you first need to know which auxiliary to use, depending of the main verb. Avoir is mainly associated with transitive verbs (verbs that are used with an object like a noun, a phrase or even a pronoun).
Anyway, let’s take a closer look to some examples, practice makes perfect!
This is the pattern of Le passé composé:
Subject + Auxiliary conjugated in present tense + Main verb past participle.
• J’ai mangé une pomme. (I ate an apple)
Here, the subject is Je and the main verb is Manger (to eat).
We conjugate the auxiliary Avoir in the present tense, and add the past participle of Manger (which is Mangé).
• Il a cassé ma voiture. (I broke my car)
The subject is Il and the main verb is Casser (to break).
We conjugate the auxiliary Avoir in the present tense, and add the past participle of Casser (which is Cassé).
Well, that’s it. You know how works Avoir as an auxiliary in Le passé composé!
Unintuitive French expressions with Avoir
There are some French unintuitive expressions with the verb Avoir.
Indeed, for example, in French, you’re not hungry, but you have hunger.
This is a little list of the most common unintuitive ways the verb Avoir is used in French.
• Avoir faim. (to be hungry)
J’ai faim. (I’m hungry)
• Avoir soif. (to be thirsty)
Elle a soif. (She’s thirsty)
• Avoir froid. (to be cold)
J’ai froid. (I’m cold)
• Avoir chaud. (to be hot)
Il a chaud. (He’s hot)
• To tell our age in French, we use the verb avoir.
J’ai 22 ans. (I’m 22)
Those are the most common, but if you’re thinking to some other I may have forgotten, feel free to tell me in the comment section just below! 😀