When looking at conjugation lists online (reverso, leconjugeur), the verb « clore » doesn't have any listed forms for the vous, nous (in the present), imparfait or passé simple. Can anyone suggest any reasons why « clore » is not used for any of these contexts such that it has no conjugation for them and for example, if I had written (from my understanding this verb is really on used in novels and textbooks) « vous closez » would that be understandable?

4 Answers 4


Vous closez la discussion would raise eyebrows and smell the anglicism (although present in the 2006 Bescherelle edition).

The verb clore lost a lot of its old conjugated forms because they clashed with the ones of the verb clouer (The expected historical form would have been Vous clouez/cloez/cluez la discussion). As Un francophone wrote, clôturer and fermer are common enough substitutes for it.

See also: « Système fermé » contre « système clos »


I'll leave to someone else the why question for the case of clore, it needs sources that I don't have. A more general answer about the history of defective verbs has been given here.

closez seems regular enough to me that it could be used if the need arose, but with fermer and clôturer available, providing the more common meanings of clore and having a regular conjugation, that will probably not happen.


@Unfrancophone has given the right answer, i.e. it is a defective verb and I doubt another reason then the ones he's already given, historical and semantic proximity with clôturer, could be found.

Your question is a good one and not a new one as Littré points out:

Des grammairiens se sont plaints qu'on laissât sans raison tomber en désuétude plusieurs formes du verbe clore. Pourquoi en effet ne dirait-on pas : nous closons, vous closez ; l'imparfait, je closais ; le prétérit défini, je closis, et l'imparfait du subjonctif, je closisse ? Ces formes n'ont rien de rude ni d'étrange, et il serait bon que l'usage ne les abandonnât pas.

That being said, Grevisse (Le bon usage, §701, 10th edition) gives the following examples found in literature of the use of clore in the passé simple:

  • Le baron se penchât se pencha davantage sur le visage, closit lui même les paupières. (Henri Béraud, Le bois du templier perdu, 1926)
  • Il a fallu (..) qu'on la closit de trois fils barbelés.(Maurice Bedel, Géographie de mille hectares, 1937).

We can note as well that the derivatives of clore are defective too, and they vary in their existing forms. Éclore can be used in all forms of the présent de l'indicatif but is not supposed to be used in the passé simple, nevertheless we can read this sentence in Soto by Philippe Djian (published in 1993):

Des cloisons disparurent, des fenêtres s'ouvrirent sur le toit, une énorme baie pulvérisa le mur au sud-ouest et une véranda éclosit au sud-est.


C’est un verbe défectif. Il n’existe pas toutes les formes et à toutes les personnes.

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