Confondre: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Susan Binkley

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

The French verb 'confondre,' means 'to confuse' or 'to mix up' in English. This lesson will show you how to use that verb. We'll look at a situation where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and learn a few sentences with the verb.

Using the Verb Confondre

You're studying in Paris for the semester, and one day you go on a field trip to the Musée d'Orsay, a famous art museum. There are a lot of paintings by famous artists there, but you keep getting the artists mixed up!

'Je confonds' (pronounced: zhuh kohn fohn) 'toujours Manet avec Monet', you tell your friend Luc ('I always confuse Manet with Monet').

'Tu confonds Manet avec Monet?', he asks. ('You confuse Manet with Monet?') 'Je confonds Millet avec Monet!' ('I confuse Millet with Monet!')

Thomas overhears the conversation and laughs. 'Vous confondez' (pronounced: voo kohn fohn day) 'Monet avec Manet et Millet. Moi aussi!' ('You confuse Monet with Manet and Millet. Me too!')

You all break out laughing. What a tongue-twister! 'Nous confondons' (pronounced: noo kohn fohn dohn) 'les artistes avec M!' ('We confuse the artists with M!')

Confondre=to confuse.

Did you notice the forms of confondre (pronounced: cohn fohn druh) that are used? Confondre is the infinitive, or basic, form of the verb that means 'to confuse.' When we use it with a pronoun such as nous to say 'we confuse,' we use the appropriate conjugation -- nous confondons, in this case.

Forms of Confondre

Let's take a look at confondre in the present tense for all the forms. Here's the conjugation chart:

Subject Pronoun Confondre Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je confonds (zhuh kohn fohn) I confuse, I am confusing
tu tu confonds (too kohn fohn) you confuse, you are confusing
il/elle/on il/elle/on confond (eel/el/ohn kohn fohn) he/she confuses, he/she is confusing
nous nous confondons (noo kohn fohn dohn) we confuse, we are confusing
vous vous confondez (voo kohn fohn day) you confuse, you are confusing
ils/elles ils/elles confondent (eel/el kohn fohnd) they confuse, they are confusing

The conjugation of this verb is the same as for other verbs ending in -re. Since this verb fits the normal pattern of verbs ending in -re, we call this a 'regular' -re verb.

When we say that the English translation for il confond is 'he is confusing,' we do not mean that he himself is a confusing person. We mean that he is confusing one object for another, or is mixing something up. So when you use this verb, you need to follow it with what, exactly, is being confused.

This means that in grammar terms, the verb needs to be followed by a 'direct object.' 'Il confond la géographie avec la géologie' means that he is confusing geography with geology, where 'geography' and 'geology' are considered the direct objects.

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