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Acheter in French: Translation & Conjugation

Instructor: Joanna Schildt

Joanna has taught college level French and has a master's degree in French Literature.

In this lesson, we will learn how to use the French verb acheter, which means 'to buy,' in a real life. We will explore its slightly irregular -er conjugation and find out how to correctly negate this verb.

Introducing the Verb Acheter

For most students of the French language, it is French food that charms and bewitches us: We just can't wait to get a taste of those dainty, detailed, and delectable cakes, pastries, and treats. So, let's head to the French pastry shop, or pâtisserie, to learn about the irregular verb acheter (ah-shuh-tay), meaning 'to buy.'

The pastry shop is one place you can make use of the word acheter.
Counter at a Patisserie

Shopping With the Verb Acheter

'Qu'est-ce que vous achetez?' says someone from behind the counter. She's asking you, 'What are you buying?'

You are in the mood for something indulgent, so you say, 'J'achète un éclair au chocolat.' Nice choice! That chocolate looks great!

Your friend is looking for something a bit lighter, but she doesn't speak French. You order for her: 'Elle achète une tarte aux fraises.' Those are tiny strawberry pies, and they will be delicious.

Next, you see something called a millefeuille. It's a pastry with what looks like thousands of layers of pastry, sugar, and a creamy filling. You think you can share it. 'Nous achetons une millefeuille, s'il vous plaît.'

Forms of Acheter

Do you see a pattern in the verb you're using while shopping at the pastry shop? It's the verb acheter. This verb is unique from other regular -er verbs, like donner and parler, because of the way the accents change in different forms of the verb.

Let's look at the whole verb in conjugated forms.

VERB: Acheter (ah-shuh-tay)

Subject Pronoun Acheter Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je j'achète (zh-ah-sheht) I buy/I am buying
tu tu achètes (too ah-sheht) you buy/you are buying
il/elle/on il/elle/on achète (eell/el/ohn ah-sheht) he/she/we buy or he/she/we are buying
nous nous achetons (nooz ah-shuh-ton) we buy/we are buying
vous vous achetez (vooz ah-shuh-tay) they buy/they are buying
ils/ells ils/Elles achètent (eelz/elz ah-sheht) they buy/they are buying

Now, check the pattern again. You'll see that we have, in bold, the normal endings for an -er verb in French.

But you'll notice one big change--there's a grave accent for the je, tu, il/elle/on, and ils/elles forms of the verb. There's no accent on the nous and the vous forms.

Practice

Now that we know more about acheter and its conjugated forms, let's try using it at the pastry shop again.

From behind the counter, you hear, 'Vous achetez des macarons?'

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