Mentir in French: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Rebecca Rosenbarker

Rebecca has taught French and English as a Second Language (ESL). She has a master's degree in ESL. Rebecca currently lives in France.

This lesson introduces the French verb ''mentir,'' including its translation and conjugation. The verb's conjugation is shown in the present tense, passé composé, and future tense. A short quiz to test your knowledge follows this lesson.

Mentir in French: Definition & Conjugation

Many young adults experience France for the first time by becoming an au pair. The responsibilities of an au pair can take many forms, but the primary responsibility is often childcare. Young adults looking to experience France for a year pack their bags, move in with a French family, and take part in what's considered a cultural and linguistic exchange.

Imagine you've decided to take on such an adventure, and are on your way to France to move in with your new host family, Annie and Michel Hubert, and their 9-year-old boy named Matthias. You arrive at your new home and start getting settled in. After a delicious home-cooked meal for dinner all together, you go back to your room to find one of your textbooks has had its cover drawn on. You ask Matthias, if he knows what happened to the book. He says he doesn't know, but you think he's lying. How can you continue the conversation with him?

The French verb mentir (mahn-TEER), which means 'to lie', would come in handy in this conversation. To know how to use mentir in your conversation with Matthias, let's take a look at how it's conjugated in the present tense.

Have you ever lied? Est-ce que vous avez jamais menti?
Mother scolding child

Mentir in the Present Tense

While mentir is considered an irregular verb, it does follow a similar conjugation pattern as some other verbs you may have already seen, such as partir (to leave), sentir (to smell), and sortir (to exit). In fact, most French verbs ending in -mir, -tir, and -vir are conjugated following this pattern.

VERB: mentir (mahn-TEER) - to lie

Subject Pronoun Mentir Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je mens (mahn) I lie
tu tu mens (mahn) You lie
il/elle/on il/elle/on ment (mehn) He/She/One lies
nous nous mentons (mahn-tohn) We lie
vous vous mentez (mahn-tay) You lie (plural/formal)
ils/elles ils/elles mentent (mahnt) They lie

Your conversation with Matthias might look something like this.

You: Matthias, qu'est-ce qui s'est passé? (Matthias, what happened?)

Matthias: Je n'en sais rien. (I don't know anything about it.)

You: Tu es certain? Il n'y avait pas de dessins sur mon livre cet après-midi. (Are you sure? There weren't any drawings on my book this afternoon.)

Matthias: Oui, j'en suis sûre! Je n'ai rien fait! (Yes, I'm sure of it! I didn't do anything!)

You: Tu me mens? (Are you lying to me?)

Matthias: Non! Je te mens pas! (No, I'm not lying to you!)

Not convinced he's telling you the truth, you look to continue the conversation with him. To do so, you can utilize the passé composé.

Mentir in the Passé Composé

The verb mentir takes the helping verb avoir (to have) in the passé composé and the past participle is menti. Let's take a look at how mentir is conjugated in the passé composé using different subject pronouns.

VERB: mentir (mahn-TEER) - to lie

Subject Pronoun Mentir Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je j'ai menti (mahn-tee) I lied
tu tu as menti (mahn-tee) You lied
il/elle/on il/elle/on a menti (mahn-tee) He/She/One lied
nous nous avons menti (mahn-tee) We lied
vous vous avez menti (mahn-tee) You lied (plural/formal)
ils/elles ils/elles ont menti (mahn-tee) They lied

You continue your conversation with Matthias, and his mother Anne joins in as well.

You: Matthias, est-ce que je t'ai menti toute à l'heure quand tu m'as demandé si j'avais pris ton shampooing? (Matthias, did I lie to you earlier when you asked me if I had taken your shampoo?)

Matthias: Non, tu ne m'as pas menti. (No, you didn't lie to me.)

You: Alors, je te demande de nouveau. Est-ce que tu as dessiné sur mon livre? (Ok, I'll ask you again. Did you draw on my book?)

Matthias: Oui, c'était moi. (Yes, it was me.)

You: Anne, je ne sais pas quoi faire. Matthias a dessiné sur mon livre, et il m'a menti. (Anne, I don't know what to do. Matthias drew on my book, and he lied to me.)

Anne: Matthias, est-ce que c'est vrai? Est-ce que tu as dessiné sur son livre? (Matthias, is that true? Did you draw on his book?)

Matthias: Oui, maman. Je l'ai fait. (Yes, mama. I did it.)

Anne: Pourquoi tu lui as menti? (Why did you lie to him?)

Matthias: Je ne sais pas. (I don't know.)

Not satisfied with his response, Anne continues the conversation with Matthias, and in doing so, utilizes the simple future tense.

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