Chercher: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Susan Binkley

Susan has taught college-level French and has a PhD in French studies.

In this lesson, we will learn the verb 'chercher,' which means 'to look for' or 'to search' in English. We will look at a common situation where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and learn a few sentences with the verb.

Using the Verb Chercher

chercher

It's your first time to Paris, and you're visiting the famous Louvre museum. You've gotten lost inside while strolling through the different galleries looking at the artwork, but you really want to see the Venus de Milo statue. You approach a security guard and tell him that you're looking for the Venus de Milo: Excusez-moi. Je cherche (pronounced: zhuh shairsh) la Vénus de Milo. The guard responds by asking, Vous cherchez (pronounced: voo shair shay) la Vénus de Milo? He then points over to the staircase, directing you where to go.

Did you notice the forms of chercher in the exchange with the guard at the Louvre? Above, you told the guard, 'I'm looking for the Venus de Milo' (Je cherche…), and he responded, 'You're looking for the Venus de Milo?' (Vous cherchez…?)

In French, you don't need to add the exact word 'for' when you use chercher. The English 'for' is already part of the infinitive chercher. In other words, 'look for' is all rolled into one word--chercher.

To some people, the verb chercher also sounds like and looks like the English equivalent, to search. Maybe that can help you remember it.

Forms of Chercher

Let's take a look at the verb:

VERB: chercher (shair shay)
Subject Pronoun Chercher Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je cherche (zhuh shairsh) I look for/I am looking for
tu tu cherches (too shairsh) You look for, you are looking for
il/elle/on il/elle/on cherche (eel/el/ohn shairsh) he/she looks for, we look for; or he/she is looking for, we are looking for
nous nous cherchons (noo shair shohn) we look for, we are looking for
vous vous cherchez (voo shair shay) you look for, you are looking for
ils/elles ils/elles cherchent (eel/el shairsh) they look for, they are looking for

The forms, or conjugation, for this verb are the same as the other verbs that follow the pattern for verbs ending in -er. Since this verb fits the normal pattern of verbs ending in -er, we call this a 'regular' -er verb.

Other Examples of Chercher

Now that you've found the Venus de Milo, you and your friend would like to see the Mona Lisa next. So you say to another security guard, Excusez-moi, nous cherchons la Joconde. (In French, the Mona Lisa is called la Joconde; pronounced: la zhoh kohnd.) He gladly points the way for you and your friend. On your way down the hallway, you see many other tourists going to the Mona Lisa also. So you tell your friend, Ils cherchent la Joconde aussi! ('They're looking for the Mona Lisa too!')

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