Lire in French: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Susan Binkley

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

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

Using the Verb Lire

You're having a great semester abroad in Paris, and you especially love stopping off at a kiosk to buy the newspaper. Your friend Paul from class sees you at the kiosk and asks if you read the newspaper: Ah, tu lis (pronounced: too lee) le journal? You reply that yes, you read the newspaper: Oui, je lis (pronounced: zhuh lee) le journal. He then tells you that he, too, reads the paper, and he particularly reads the French newspaper, Le Monde: Moi aussi, je lis le journal. Je lis Le Monde.

The French word lire means to read.

You then see a group of friends come up to the kiosk and ask for the magazine Paris Match. Vous lisez (pronounced: voo lee-zay) Paris Match? ('Do you read Paris Match'?') They answer that yes, they read Paris Match a lot: Oui, nous lisons (pronounced: noo lee-zohn) beaucoup Paris Match!

Did you notice the forms of lire (pronounced: leer) that are used? Lire, which means 'to read,' is the infinitive form of the verb--the basic, generic form. When we use it with a pronoun such as je to say 'I read' or 'I am reading,' we use the appropriate form, or conjugation: je lis.

Forms of Lire

Now, let's take a look at the verb conjugation in the present tense for all the forms. Here's the conjugation chart for lire:

Subject Pronoun Lire Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je lis (zhuh lee) I read, I am reading
tu tu lis (too lee) you read, you are reading
il/elle/on il/elle/on lit (eel/el/ohn lee) he/she reads, he/she is reading
nous nous lisons (noo lee-zohn) we read, we are reading
vous vous lisez (voo lee-zay) you read, you are reading
ils/elles ils/elles lisent (eel/el leez) they read, they are reading

You might have noticed that all of the conjugations, except the il/elle form, have an 's' in them, even though the infinitive has no 's'. Lire doesn't fit the normal pattern of other verbs ending in -re. We call this an irregular verb. So the forms, or conjugations, for this verb pretty much need to be memorized.

More Examples of Lire

Let's go back to the kiosk in Paris and look at some more examples of lire.

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