I was confused how I should conjugate the verb essayer, or any other ones like nettoyer.

I looked up in a conjugation website,

J'essaie / ye

I'm guessing that means both j'essaie and j'essaye are accepted. However, my teacher said to use j'essaie.

Which one is correct? If both are accepted, is there any difference?

  • 2
    In newspaper and other media, you will find: essaie. Go with what your teacher said.
    – Lambie
    Jan 17, 2017 at 21:45
  • 1
    Yes, even if both are correct, the -aie form is much more common.
    – biozic
    Jan 17, 2017 at 22:12
  • Do you guys have hard data about that?
    – Frank
    Jan 17, 2017 at 22:23
  • According to ngram, the they are very close. Jan 18, 2017 at 15:07
  • @TeleportingGoat I think it's due to the fact that you chose "English"... if you choose "French" for the "corpus", then the result is significantly different...
    – Yai0Phah
    Jan 22, 2017 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


It looks like both are in regular use today, and that this is also the case for "payer", "balayer", as well as any other verb in "-ayer". I am not aware of any rule mandating to use one rather than the other when writing vs. speaking.

The pronunciation is slightly different though: "j'essaye" would sound at the end like "pareil", whereas "j'essaie" would sound like "sait".

I am not aware that one pronunciation or the other would have this or that connotation. It is even possible for native speakers to use both in the same conversation.

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