Ecouter: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Susan Binkley

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

'Ecouter,' is a verb in French that means 'to listen to' in English. This lesson will show you how to use that verb. We'll look at a common situation where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and learn a few sentences with the verb.

Using the Verb Ecouter

You and your travel group in France are on the train, going from Paris to Bordeaux. You're really looking forward to exploring Bordeaux, but it's an awfully long train ride. So you decide to put in your ear buds and listen to some music. Your French travel guide, Céline, walks by and asks if you're listening to music: Tu écoutes (pronounced: too ay koot) la musique? You reply, Oui, j'écoute (pronounced: zhay koot) la musique (I am listening to music). She tells you that Robert and Julie, across the aisle on the train, are listening to music also: Robert and Julie, ils écoutent (pronounced: eel zay koot) la musique aussi.

The verb ecouter (ay koo tay) means to listen to in English.
écouter

Did you notice the forms of écouter (pronounced: ay koo tay) that are used? Ecouter is the infinitive form of the verb, or the basic, generic form. When we use it with a pronoun such as je to say 'I listen,' or 'I am listening to,' we use the appropriate form, or conjugation: j'éoute.

Céline then tells you that Vivienne is listening to a news program, and Marc is listening to some jazz: Vivienne écoute les infos et Marc écoute le jazz.

In English, we say that we are listening 'to' something, but in French, we don't need to add the word for 'to' with écouter. The English 'to' is already part of the French verb, écouter. In other words, 'to listen to' is all rolled into one word: écouter.

Let's take a look at the verb conjugation in the present tense for all the forms.

Forms of Ecouter

Here's the conjugation chart for écouter:

Subject Pronoun Ecouter Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je j'écoute (zhay koot) I listen, I am listening
tu tu écoutes (too ay koot) You listen, you are listening
il/elle/on il/elle/on écoute (eel/el/ohn ay koot) he/she listens, he/she is listening
nous nous écoutons (noo zay koo tohn) we listen, we are listening
vous vous écoutez (voo zay koo tay) you listen, you are listening
ils/elles ils/elles écoutent (eel/el zay koot) they listen, they are listening

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

Other Examples of Ecouter

Let's get back to your travel group, and look at some more examples of écouter.

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