Do the French have any verbs, whose perfect (passé) tense forms base on the lexical root, that differs from the lexical root of the infinitive form (by analogy with the Latin verb fero > tuli)?

  • 1
    This is called suppletion, and you can find it discussed on the Internet with examples. For example on Wikipédia. If you switch languages you can get different examples in different languages. – David Robinson May 10 '19 at 22:10

Aller is the obvious example, since it alternates between three stems, with a different one in the present and in the perfect (I also include examples in the compound past which replaced the perfect more or less completely):

Je vais ↔ j'allai

Je vais ↔ je suis allé

Être maintains the Latin stem change between sum and fuī:

Je suis ↔ je fus

Je suis ↔ j'ai été

And avoir's stem has attrited to nothing in the past participle and the perfect (it is preserved in writing as ⟨e⟩ but not pronounced), creating another alternation:

J'ai ↔ j'eus

J'ai ↔ j'ai eu

| improve this answer | |

That approach has not been adopted in the conjugation of the verb in French ; the lexical root perdures throughout the whole conjugation with in some cases a change in a vowel or a consonant but not on the basis of an opposition between types of tenses ;

(for instance)

  • faire : je fais (présent), je ferai (futur)
  • peindre : je peins (présent), je peigne (subjonctif présent)

There is another particularity of the French verb, although it's true for only a few verbs, and that's the occurrence of missing forms, as in this case (paitre).

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.