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Spanish has 3 types of verbs, ar, er, and ir. French has 3 types: er, ir, and re. It looks like French shifted the verb to the right phonetically (if Spanish had a 4th re category, and I mean the vowels a e i o u). I don't speak French but I do speak Spanish occasionally at home. Latin had ar-like verbs too. So, why doesn't French?

  • French has 4 infinitive suffixes, not 3 (-er, -oir, -re and -ir). They correspond to the Latin, -āre, -ēre, -ěre and -īre suffixes. Spanish's -ar verbs correspond to fr. -er and la. -āre, -ir verbs to fr. -ir and la. -īre, but it merged both types of -ere suffixes into one: -er (that corresponds to french's -oir and -re verbs both, for example beber/boire or moler/moudre) – Eau qui dort Apr 30 at 11:27
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French shifted the Latin vowel a to e in this context. This isn't a change that occurred only in verbs, but in all kinds of words: for example, the adjective cher comes from Latin carus, and the noun mer comes from Latin mare.

The general sound change is that Latin a in a stressed open syllable (basically, a followed by a single consonant and then an unstressed vowel) became French e (sometimes spelled ai). So the Latin infinitive ending -are became the French infinitive ending -er, and the Latin participle ending -ata became the French participle ending -ée, the Latin second person plural ending -atis became the French second person plural ending -ez, and so on.

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