Rire: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Amy Brotschul

Amy has taught all levels of high school French and holds a Master of Arts in Teaching French and English as a Second Language.

There is a saying, 'He who laughs, lasts,' which emphasizes the importance of having a sense of humor. In this lesson, you will learn about the verb 'rire,' meaning 'to laugh,' as well as different ways to say that something or someone is funny.

The Verb Rire

It's Friday night and your friends are making plans to go to a comedy club. Understanding local humor is a sign of progress in learning another language. So, you've decided to join your friends. Plus on est de fous, plus on rit, or as we say in English, ''The more, the merrier.''

As the comedy show begins, it doesn't take long before your friends are enjoying themselves. They comment that the comedian is funny. Il est drôle, ce comédien! And then they laugh. Ils rient.

The more you listen, the more you understand, and before you know it, your friends say, Tu ris! (''You laugh!'') You respond, Oui, je ris! Il est rigolo! (''Yes, I laugh! He is funny!'') After several acts, you comment to your friends, Vous riez beaucoup. (''They laugh a lot.'') One friend says, Oui, nous rions beaucoup quand c'est amusant. (''We laugh a lot when it's funny.'')

Ils rient.
People laughing

In this scenario, you can see the different conjugations of the verb ''to laugh,'' rire. Although this verb ends in -re, it is an irregular verb, meaning it does not follow a pattern like other -re verbs.

Note the conjugations in present tense:

pronoun conjugation pronunciation
je ris (zhuh ree)
tu ris (tü ree)
il / elle / on rit (eel / el / ohn ree)
nous rions (noo ree ohn)
vous riez (voo ree ay)
ils / elles rient (eel / el ree)

Discussing Humor

You may have also noticed the different ways to express that someone or something is funny.

  • Il est drôle. (eel ay drol) ''He is funny. / It is funny.''
  • Il est rigolo. (eel ay ree go lo) ''He is funny. / It is funny.''
  • Il est amusant. (eel et ah mü zahn) ''He is funny. / It is funny.''

If you're speaking about a funny situation or event, you can say:

  • C'est amusant. (set ah mü zahn) ''This is funny.''

If you want to recount your night at the comedy club and how much you laughed, you will need to know the past tense form. You would say, j'ai ri (''I laughed'') or nous avons ri (''we laughed'').

pronoun conjugation pronunciation
je j'ai ri (zhay ree)
tu tu as ri (tü ah ree)
il / elle / on il a ri (eel / el / ohn ah ree)
nous nous avons ri (noo zah vohn ree)
vous vous avez ri (voo zah vay ree)
ils / elles ils / elles ont ri (eel / el zohn ree)

Here are several more examples of the verb rire used to discuss humorous situations:

  • On rit en classe. (''We laugh in class.'')
  • Si je ne ris pas, je pleurerai. (''If I don't laugh, I will cry.'')
  • Les enfants rient beaucoup. (''The children laugh a lot.'')
  • Nous rions parce que la comédienne est très drôle. (''We are laughing because the comedian is very funny.'')

Expressions With Rire

As in English, there are several proverbs in French that include the verb rire.

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