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Conduire: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Amy Brotschul

Amy has taught all levels of high school French and holds a Master of Arts in Teaching French and English as a Second Language.

'Le permis de conduire' (driver's license) has become a rite of passage for most Americans. In France, you must be 18 years old to drive or 'conduire.' In this lesson, we will look at the conjugations of this verb and use it to learn about driving in France.

The Verb Conduire

Il conduit. (He is driving.)
driving

Imagine that you are spending your vacation traveling around France. Although there is excellent public transportation, you have decided the best way to see the French countryside is to rent une voiture (a car) and conduire sur les routes (drive on the roadways).

As you drive along, you encounter many rond-points (roundabouts). You know that les conducteurs (drivers) in the roundabout have the right of way. After driving a while, you enter a roundabout, when suddenly une moto (motorcycle) appears and hits you from behind. Before you know it, the driver of the motorcycle is yelling at you. He says, Vous conduisez mal! Once he realizes you're a tourist, he begins yelling, Les touristes conduisent mal! You realize quickly that he is commenting on your driving, so you reply, Moi, je conduis très bien, Monsieur. Vous, vous conduisez mal. (I drive very well, sir. You drive poorly.) When the police arrive, you explain to them, Il conduit très trop vite. (He drives too fast.) Luckily, after explaining what happened to the police, you are able to go on your way.

Conjugation of Conduire

Looking at the sentences above, can you identify the different forms or conjugations of the verb conduire? Note that it is considered an irregular verb because it does not follow the usual pattern for verbs ending in -re.

Here is a chart showing the conjugations in the present:

Subject pronoun Conduire conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je conduis (kohn dwee) I drive, I am driving
tu tu conduis (kohn dwee) you drive, you are driving
il/elle/on il/elle/on conduit (kohn dwee) he/she/one drives, is driving
nous nous conduisons (kohn dwee zohn) we drive, we are driving
vous vous conduisez (kohn dwee zay) you drive, you are driving
ils/elles ils/elles conduisent (kohn dweez) they drive, they are driving
  • Notice that the singular forms of the verb are all pronounced the same way.
  • The plural forms add the usual endings to the root form conduis-.

Learning to Drive

Here are some more examples of conduire used in context. When this verb means ''to drive,'' it is often used with the name of a vehicle, an adverb (bien, mal, lentement, vite) or a place, as in ''to school'' or ''to the market.''

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