Decrire: Definition, Conjugation & Synonyms

Instructor: Susan Binkley

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

In this lesson we will show you how to use the verb 'DECRIRE,' which means 'to describe' in English. We'll look at a situation where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and learn a few sentences using the verb.

Using the Verb Décrire

IL DECRIT PARIS=He is describing Paris.

Postcards! You and your friends have been sightseeing this week in Paris, taking a break from your studies during your study abroad program. You all decide to send postcards to your families back home describing the amazing things you've seen.

You tell your friend Paul: 'Je décris (pronounced: zhuh day kree) Paris et le Louvre.' ('I'm describing Paris and the Louvre').

He asks: 'Tu décris (pronounced: too day cree) Paris et le Louvre?' ('You're describing Paris and the Louvre?')

You answer: 'Je décris les musées.' ('I'm describing museums.')

Julie bought some really nice postcards of Notre Dame. 'Vous décrivez (pronounced: voo day cree vay) le Louvre, et je décris Notre Dame.' ('You're describing the Louvre and I'm describing Notre Dame.')

Julie was with Robert and Laura when they bought Notre Dame postcards. So they're describing Notre Dame on their postcards, too. Robert et Laura, ils décrivent' (pronounced: eel day creev) Notre Dame aussi.' ('They are describing Notre Dame too.')

She then looks over Justin's shoulder to see what he's writing about. She then laughs and tells everyone, 'Il décrit la cuisine!' ('He's describing the food!')

Did you notice the forms of décrire (pronounced: day kreer) that are used? Décrire is the infinitive, or basic, form of the verb that means 'to describe.' When we use it with a pronoun such as il to say 'he is describing,' we use the appropriate conjugation, il décrit, in this case.

Forms of Décrire

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

Subject Pronoun Décrire Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je décris (zhuh day cree) I describe, I am describing
tu tu décris (too day cree) you describe, you are describing
il/elle/on il/elle/on décrit (eel/el/ohn day cree) he/she describes, he/she is describing
nous nous décrivons (noo day cree vohn) we describe, we are describing
vous vous décrivez (voo day cree vay) you describe, you are describing
ils/elles ils/elles décrivent (eel/el day creev) they describe, they are describing

The conjugation of this verb pretty much needs to be memorized because it doesn't fit the normal pattern of other verbs ending in -re. We call this an 'irregular' verb. It is very similar to the verb 'écrire,' which means to write. The only difference is that décrire starts with the letter 'd.'

One thing to remember about the conjugation of this verb is the addition of the 'v' in the endings for nous, vous, and ils/elles. There is no 'v' in the infinitive, but it is part of these three verb endings.

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