Donner: Definition, Conjugation & Synonyms

Instructor: Susan Binkley

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

'Donner' is the verb in French that means 'to give' in English. This lesson will show you how to use that verb using different sentences and conversation. We'll also take a look at the conjugation and go over a few other things you'll need to remember.

Using the Verb Donner

The verb donner means to give.

You've been on a study abroad program in Paris, and now it's time for winter break. You'll be traveling for several weeks and need to get ready. The plants in your room? You need to give those to Michel so he can water them while you're gone.

'Je donne (pronounced: zhuh done) les plantes à Michel,' you tell your friend Caroline ('I'm giving the plants to Michel').

Caroline thinks that's a great idea. She gestures toward her friend Diane and says that she is also giving her plants to Michel:

'Bonne idée! Elle donne (pronounced: el done) ses plantes à Michel aussi'. ('Good idea! She is also giving her plants to Michel.')

He must love plants! Now Caroline wants to know about your goldfish! Who will feed it?

She asks, 'Tu donnes (pronounced: too done) le poisson rouge à Thomas?' ('Are you giving Thomas your goldfish?')

No, you will give him the key to the room to feed the fish:

'Non, je donne les clés à Thomas,' you reply ('No, I'm giving Thomas the keys').

You might have noticed the different forms of donner (pronounced: done nay) that are used in the sentences above. When we use it with a pronoun such as elle to say 'she is giving...,' we use the appropriate form for elle, which is elle donne. This is called a conjugation. But the basic form of the verb, or infinitive, is donner.

Forms of Donner

Let's take a look at the verb conjugation for donner in the present tense:

Subject Pronoun Donner Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je donne (zhuh done) I give, I am giving
tu tu donnes (too done) you give, you are giving
il/elle/on il/elle/on donne (eel/el/ohn done) he/she gives, he/she is giving
nous nous donnons (noo done nohn) we give, we are giving
vous vous donnez (voo done nay) you give, you are giving
ils/elles ils/elles donnent (eel/el done) they give, they are giving

This verb is conjugated the same way as other verbs that end in -er. Since this verb fits the normal pattern of -er verbs, we call this a 'regular' -er verb.

Other Examples of Donner

Let's continue getting ready for our month of traveling. Robert and Paul stop by to see how everything is going. They mention that they have a great travel guide to Europe that they're giving to Nancy, one of your travel companions.

'Nous donnons le livre à Nancy,' they tell you ('We're giving the book to Nancy').

You reply, 'Excellent! Vous donnez une carte routière à Nancy aussi?' ('Great! Are you giving a road map to Nancy too?')

'Non,' Robert says, 'Laure et Nicolas donnent la carte routière à Nancy.' ('No, Laure and Nicolas are giving Nancy the road map.')

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