[ French grammar index ]
[ Irregular verb patterns ]
The dormir verb pattern
A few common verbs of French have infinitives ending in -ir
but have "short" forms in which the -i- of the infinitive
isn't generally included in the other (conjugated) verb forms. This differs from the
"regular -ir" pattern of verbs such as finir.
So while finir has je finis etc,
dormir has je dors etc.
Verbs of the dormir type have a characteristic consonant
before the -ir. This consonant appears in all forms except the
present tense singular forms. Unlike verbs of the so-called regular -re conjugation, the characteristic consonant is
not included in the spelling of these singular forms either.
The following closed list of verbs follow the dormir
pattern (you can click on a verb to see its full conjugation):
- dormir to sleep
- mentir to lie, tell a lie
- partir to leave
- sentir to feel, smell
- servir to serve
- sortir to leave, go/come out
- Their compounds: consentir,
1. In some uses, ressortir follows the regular finir pattern.
The key to forming these verbs is to remember:
- The stem is the infinitive minus -Cir, where
C is the characteristic consonant. So dormir
has the stem dor-.
- The characteristic consonant then re-appears in all forms except the
present tense singular forms.
- The past participle ends in -i (with the characteristic
consonant present, e.g. dormir > dormi).
Otherwise, these verbs are formed using general principles that
basically apply to any French verb.
The normal endings -s, -s, -t,
-ons, -ez, -ent are added
(these are generally the endings for any French verb except regular -er verbs);
the characteristic consonant is inserted in the plural forms. This gives:
Note that, as for most French verbs, all of the singular forms are pronounced the same.
As mentioned, the past participle of these verbs ends in the characteristic consonant plus
-i (effectively, remove -r from the infinitive). Hence
perfect tense forms such as j'ai dormi, je suis sorti,
Other tenses are formed as for any other verb:
- The imperfect takes the stem dorm-, sort-
of the nous present tense form, including the characgeristic consonant. This
gives forms je dormais, je sortais etc.
- The future tense is formed on the infinitive, giving je dormirai, je sortirai etc.
- The conditional is the future but with imperfect endings, giving je dormirais etc.
- The subjunctive takes the stem of the ils present tense form (i.e.
it includes the characteristic consonant, dorm-, sort-) and adds the
usual subjunctive endings, giving je dorme, je sorte etc.
- The past historic is has endings with the -i- vowel like the past
participle: il dormit, il sortit etc.
This page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.