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Laver: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Jennifer Chrol

I have a Master's degree in English and French. I love teaching language at all ages and levels.

Do the dishes! Take a shower! Wash the car! These are all very important commands you may have heard from your parents growing up, but what would they sound like in French? In this lesson you'll learn the verb 'laver' (to wash), how to conjugate it, and some other important phrases and expressions that use the verb.

Washing Up

The verb laver is used in many aspects of French cleaning. You'll need this verb to do several things around the house, such as doing the dishes, laundry, and taking a shower. Laver is also seen in noun form. Before we learn those expressions, let's take a look at the conjugated form for the verb.

Subject Pronoun Verb Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je lave (zhuh lahv) I wash
tu tu laves (too lahv) you wash (singular/informal)
il/elle/on il/elle/on lave (eel/el lahv) he/she washes
nous nous lavons (noo lahv-ohn) we wash
vous vous lavez (voo lahv-ay) you wash (plural/formal)
ils/elles ils/elles lavent (eel/el lahv) they wash

Uses for Laver

Suppose you're staying with a friend on vacation in France and you need to do laundry. If you're lucky, your friend will have a machine à laver (washing machine, or more commonly known as a lave-linge). To wash your clothes, you'd use the verb laver le linge.

Translation: She does laundry at the laundromat.
laundry

The same verb structure is used to do the dishes. Maybe you want to do something nice for the people cooking for you, so you offer laver le vaisselle (to do the dishes). You can wash them by hand if they don't have a lave-vaisselle (dishwasher). This form can be used to express any object you're washing. For example, to wash a car would be laver la voiture. It's important to note that if you're having your car washed, (that is to say, someone else is washing it), then you use the verb faire in front of laver. Je fais laver la voiture (I'm having the car washed).

Se Laver

What if you want to wash your hands or take a shower? In this case, the verb laver becomes reflexive. In order to make a verb reflexive you need to use a reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous) to show that you're doing the action to yourself. 'I am washing my hands' becomes Je me lave les mains. Here's a chart to help you with the pronouns.

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