Nager: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Susan Binkley

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

The French verb 'nager,' means 'to swim' in English. This lesson will show you how to use this verb. We'll look at a common situation where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and learn a few sentences using the verb.

Using the Verb Nager

It's a beautiful, sunny day on the French Riviera. You and your friends are relaxing on the beach, which the French call La Côte d'Azur. You look out at the Mediterranean and see your friends Paul and Nicolas swimming in the sea. 'Ils nagent!' ('They're swimming!' pronounced: eel nazh), you tell your friends. Julie sees Vivienne swimming in the sea, too, and says, 'Elle nage aussi'! ('She is swimming, too!' pronounced: el nazh oh si). You then ask Julie if she swims a lot: 'Julie, tu nages beaucoup?' ('Julie, do you swim a lot?' pronounced: too nazh bo-ku). 'Oui,' she tells you, 'je nage beaucoup'! (Yes, I swim a lot! pronounced: zhuh nazh bo-ku).

Did you notice the forms of nager (pronounced: nah zhay) being used here? Nager 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 swim,' we use the appropriate form, or conjugation: je nage.

Il nage.

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

Forms of Nager

Here's the conjugation chart for nager:

VERB: Nager (nah zhay)

Subject Pronoun Nager Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je nage (zhuh nazh) I swim, I am swimming
tu tu nages (too nazh) you swim, you are swimming
il/elle/on il/elle/on nage (eel/el/ohn nazh) he/she swims, he/she is swimming
nous nous nageons (noo nah zhohn) we swim, we are swimming
vous vous nagez (voo nah zhay) you swim, you are swimming
ils/elles ils/elles nagent (eel/el nazh) they swim, they are swimming

The conjugation of this verb is the same as the other verbs that follow the pattern for verbs ending in -er, but with one exception. Regular -er verbs have simply the -ons ending for the nous form, but with nager, the conjugation has an e, and becomes nous nageons.

This added e for the nous form appears in all regular -er verbs that end in -ger, like nager. Some examples of this kind of verb are manger (to eat) and voyager (to travel).

Other Examples of Nager

Let's get back to the beach and look at some more examples of nager.

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