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Parler: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Susan Binkley

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

In this lesson, we will learn the verb 'parler,' which means 'to speak' or 'to talk.' We will look at a common situation where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and learn a few sentences using the verb.

Using the Verb Parler

Parler

It's a dream come true: You're in France to study French! You've signed up for a program to study French with other people from all around the world. As you are getting to know each other, everyone talks about the languages they speak. You start out, 'Je parle anglais' (I speak English; pronounced: zhuh parl ahn glay). Then you turn to someone you haven't met yet and ask if he speaks English, too: 'Parlez-vous (pronounced: par lay voo) anglais aussi'? To your pleasant surprise, he answers that he does speak English: 'Oui, je parle anglais.'

Did you notice the forms of parler (pronounced: par lay) that you used? Parler 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 speak,' we use the appropriate form or conjugation: je parle.

Let's take a look at the verb conjugation of parler in the present tense.

Forms of Parler

Here is the conjugation chart of parler:

VERB: parler (par lay)
Subject Pronoun Parler Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je parle (zhuh parl) I speak /I am speaking
tu tu parles (too parl) You speak, you are speaking
il/elle/on il/elle/on parle (eel/el/ohn parl) he/she speak, we speak; or he/she is speak, we are speaking
nous nous parlons (noo par lohn) we speak, we are speaking
vous vous parlez (voo par lay) you speak, you are speaking
ils/elles ils/elles parlent (eel/el parl) they speak, they are speaking

The conjugation of this verb sets the pattern for regular verbs that end in -er. Many textbooks, websites, and other guides for learning French use parler as the basic model for studying the conjugation of -er verbs. Verbs like parler that fit the normal pattern for verbs ending in -er are called 'regular' -er verbs.

Other Examples of Parler

Let's get back to your study abroad group and look at some more examples of parler.

You just met Roberto and Paola who are from Italy. They tell you that they speak Italian: 'Nous parlons italien' (pronounced: ee tal yehn). Then Roberto points to another young woman across the room and says that she too speaks Italian: 'Elle parle italien, aussi.'

Now that you've gotten to know several people and have made friends, you'd like to know if they speak any French. 'Tu parles français'?, you ask your new friend, Anna. She says that she does speak French, and so do a few others in the group: 'Oui, je parle français' (pronounced: frahn say). 'Manuel et Ivan, ils parlent français aussi.'

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