Boire: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Rebecca Rosenbarker

Rebecca has taught French and English as a Second Language (ESL). She has a master's degree in ESL. Rebecca currently lives in France.

This lesson introduces the French verb 'boire,' highlighting its definition and how it's conjugated using different subject nouns and pronouns. A short quiz follows this lesson to test your knowledge.

The Verb Boire

Grab a drink and get comfortable for this lesson. We're going to learn about the French verb boire (pronounced: bwar), which means 'to drink.'

The verb boire (to drink) in action
Photo of a woman drinking water

Boire may look like other verbs you've already learned. It ends in -re just like prendre (to take), comprendre (to understand), and mettre (to put). These are called irregular -re verbs, meaning that, when they are being conjugated, they do not follow the same pattern as regular -re verbs.

Boire is even more irregular than prendre, comprendre, and mettre, because it does not follow the same pattern as any other -re verb when conjugated. That also means there aren't really tricks or patterns to help you remember how to conjugate boire--you simply have to memorize. Now, let's take a look at how to conjugate boire in the present tense.

Conjugating Boire in Present Tense

The conjugation of boire in the present tense for je, tu, and il/elle/on goes like this:

Conjugation Pronunciation Example Translation
Je bois bwa Je bois du café. I drink coffee.
Tu bois bwa Tu bois du soda. You (singular) drink soda.
Il/elle/on boit bwa Elle boit de l'eau. She drinks water.

You may have noticed that all three of these start with boi-, and are pronounced the exact same way, even though the ending letter for il/elle/on is different.

Things get a little more complicated as we continue with nous, vous, and ils/ells:

Conjugation Pronunciation Example Translation
Nous buvons boo-VOHN Nous buvons du thé. We drink tea.
Vous buvez boo-VAY Vous buvez du vin. You (plural or formal) drink wine.
Ils/elles boivent bwav Ils boivent du jus d'orange. They drink orange juice.

With these three conjugations, the beginning part of the verb for nous and vous changes to bu-. For ils/elles, the stem returns to the boi- form (as seen with je, tu, and il/elle/on).

Examples of Boire Conjugation

Let's take a look at a few examples of using boire with subject nouns:

Jacques boit de l'eau. (Jacques drinks water.)

  • This follows the conjugation pattern for il/elle/on because you can substitute the pronoun il in place of Jacques.

Marc, Florence, et Marie boivent du thé. (Marc, Florence, and Mary drink tea.)

  • This follows the conjugation pattern for ils/elles because you can substitute the pronoun ils in place of Marc, Florence, et Marie.

Madame la Présidente, buvez-vous du café? (Madame President, do you drink coffee?)

  • This follows the conjugation pattern for vous because you can substitute the pronoun vous in place of Madame la Présidente. This is a situation where, although you are only talking to one person, you would be sure to use the formal vous rather than the informal, singular tu.

Conjugating Boire in Other Tenses

Since the verb boire is irregular, let's take a look at its conjugation in some other commonly used tenses: the passé composé, l'imparfait, and the futur simple.

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