Vouloir Pouvoir Devoir in the Present

Vouloir Pouvoir Devoir in the Present

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Added by May 17, 2021

Conjugate “vouloir, pouvoir, devoir” in the Present Tense

Learn how to conjugate the verbs “vouloir” (to want), “pouvoir” (to be able to/can), “devoir” (to have to) in the present tense in French.

COUCOU! Ready to conjugate some verbs ? Yeah !

You may have already realized that the number of irregular verbs in French is pretty high, unfortunately. In the present of the indicative alone, there are a bunch of irregular verbs. Here are three of them ending in -OIR : POUVOIR, VOULOIR and DEVOIR. 

Time for you to memorize them ! Their conjugations are pretty similar, so that should help. 

Let’s start with POUVOIR

POUVOIR in the INDICATIVE PRESENT

JE PEUX 

TU PEUX

IL/ELLE/ON PEUT

NOUS POUVONS

VOUS POUVEZ

ILS/ELLES PEUVENT

Here’s an example on how to use this verb.

IL PEUT ALLER VOIR AILLEURS SI J’Y SUIS.

ON PEUT SE CASSER MAINTENANT.

Basically, you conjugate POUVOIR, and then add the infinitive of whatever verb you want to use. Simple !

This same structure works with DEVOIR, our second verb, that means « to have to », or « to be set to » do something. Here’s how to conjugate it. 

DEVOIR in the INDICATIVE PRESENT

JE DOIS 

TU DOIS

IL/ELLE DOIT

NOUS DEVONS

VOUS DEVEZ

ILS/ELLES DOIVENT

Let’s have a look at it in context.

JE DOIS VOIR MES POTES PLUS TARD. = I’m set to see my friends later.

Or, if confronted by an outrageous situation or injustice, you can exclaim :

ON DOIT FAIRE QUELQUE CHOSE ! = We have to do something.

Moving on to the conjugation of VOULOIR, to want.

VOULOIR in the INDICATIVE PRESENT

JE VEUX

TU VEUX

IL/ELLE/ON VEUT

NOUS VOULONS

VOUS VOULEZ

ILS/ELLES VEULENT

And of course, if you’d like to use the negative form, just add NE before the verb, and PAS after the verb. Example :

JE NE VEUX PAS PARTIR !

Or the French slang equivalent, 

JE NE VEUX PAS ME CASSER !

Fun cultural fact on VOULOIR:

French singer Zaz has a song entitled « JE VEUX » and which is pretty fun to listen too. You might want to check it out: https://youtu.be/7X9kpHB7Aow.

And some quick linguistic facts about VOULOIR, DEVOIR, POUVOIR

The verbs we’ve just seen can be used as nouns, but take on slighty different meanings…

UN DEVOIR = a duty

UN POUVOIR = a power

SON BON VOULOIR = his/her good will

Want to practise all that ? You’ll fin exercises in the description box of this video.

BONNE CHANCE ! And remember to subscribe to my youtube channel for consistant support to perfect your language skills. TCHAO !

Practise the use of DEVOIR/POUVOIR/VOULOIR

Fill in the blanks using the most relevant verb at the right form. If you need extra help, please refer to the translation of the sentences below the exercise.

  1. Vous ____________ bien me rendre un service s’il vous plaît ?
  2. Je sais qu’il est occupé, mais quand _______-il passer ?
  3. Tu _________ vraiment partir en France seule ?
  4. Nous ____________ tous accepter de faire des choses que nous n’aimons pas.
  5. Pablo ____________ arriver vers 15h, c’est prévu comme ça.
  6. SoSo et Lili _________ voyager ensemble. Elles ont très envie de faire ça !

Translation

  1. Will you do me a favor, please ?
  2. I know he’s busy, but when can he stop by ?
  3. Do you really want to go to France alone ?
  4. We all have to accept to do things we don’t like.
  5. Pablo is supposed to arrive around 3 p.m., it’s been planned this way.
  6. SoSo and Lili want to travel together. They really want to do that.

Answers : voulez – peut – veux – devons – doit – veulent.

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