Dormir in French: Meaning & 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.

If you know that students sleep in a dormitory, then you can probably guess the meaning of the French verb 'dormir'. It's what you do when you are 'fatigué', or tired.

Dormir: Meaning & Conjugation

Sleeping Beauty or La Belle au Bois Dormant
SleepingBeauty

When thinking about the verb 'to sleep', there's one story that most likely comes to mind, the story of Sleeping Beauty. You can probably recognize the girl known in French as La Belle au bois dormant (pronounced: la bel oh bwa dor-mahn). In the painting, she is sleeping in her bed. Elle dort dans son lit. In fact, elle dort pendant longtemps. (She sleeps for a long time.) There are two other girls with her. Elles dorment, aussi. (They're sleeping, too.) Most likely because elles sont fatiguées. (They are tired.)

Et toi? Tu dors pendant longtemps quand tu es fatigué? (And you? Do you sleep for a long time when you are tired?)

Conjugation

In the sentences above, you can see the different conjugations of the verb dormir. It's helpful to note that this verb has two root forms: dor- for the conjugations in the singular and dorm- for the conjugations in the plural. Other verbs that have two root forms and that use the same endings are partir (to leave), sortir (to go out) and servir (to serve).

  • When conjugating the verb dormir in the singular forms, start with the root form dor- and add the endings -s, -s, -t. You'll notice that these endings are not pronounced.
  • For the plural forms, start with the root form dorm- and add the endings -ons, -ez, -ent.

Subject Pronoun Dormir Conjuguation Pronunciation Example Translation
je dors (dor) Je dors beaucoup. I sleep a lot.
tu dors (dor) Henri, tu dors? Henry, are you sleeping?
il/elle/on dort (dor) La jeune fille dort. The girl is sleeping.
nous dormons (dor-mohn) Nous dormons le week-end. We sleep on the weekend.
vous dormez (dor-may) Dormez-vous bien? Do you sleep well?
ils/elles dorment (dorm) Chut, les enfants dorment. Shhh, the children are sleeping.

Note that in French there is no distinction between these forms:

I sleep = I do sleep = I am sleeping

In the Past and Future

When learning a new verb, it's useful to learn its forms in the past and future, in addition to the present. As you can see in the chart, the verb dormir follows all the predictable rules for its conjugations in the perfect, imperfect and future tenses.

VERB: dormir (dor-meer), 'to sleep'

Subject Pronoun Perfect Conjugation Imperfect Conjugation Future Conjugation
je j'ai dormi je dormais je dormirai
tu tu as dormi tu dormais tu dormiras
il/elle/on il a dormi il dormait il dormira
nous nous avons dormi nous dormions nous dormirons
vous vous avez dormi vous dormiez vous dormirez
ils/elles ils ont dormi ils dormaient ils dormiront

The perfect tense expresses what you did: you 'slept'. Notice that the auxiliary verb avoir is conjugated and followed by the past participle, dormi.

The imperfect tense expresses what you were doing at a certain time. For example, you 'were sleeping' when the phone rang.

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