The verb DIRE means to say or to tell and should not be confused with parler, to speak. It’s an irregular verb and follows a similar pattern to the verbs lire (to read) and écrire (to write). It is one of only three verbs in French where the second person plural ending is not ’ez’. The other two are être and faire.
In this article, you’re going to learn about some of the more common uses of DIRE, and there is a short quiz at the end to help you remember some of the key parts and uses of the verb.
Uses of DIRE
DIRE is an irregular verb, so it doesn’t follow a particular pattern when you conjugate it.
DIRE is used in three different ways.
- 1In its most simple sense, it means ‘to say’ or ‘to tell’. Example: Je dis bonjour à tout le monde (I say hello to everyone) and Il te dit la verité (He’s telling you the truth).
- 2DIRE followed by an infinitive often means ‘are you interested in…’. Example: Ça te dit, d’aller au cinéma? (Are you interested in / do you feel like going to the cinema?).
- 3And it is found in a number of idiomatic expressions. Example: Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire? (What does that mean?).
Click on this link to see some of the more common uses of DIRE .
Conjugation of DIRE
As you now know, this is an irregular verb but it is less complicated than some others you will have come across. Keep repeating the verb and listening to the audio, and you’ll learn it in no time, but remember that often, different spellings can sound the same in French, so it’s important you secure the spellings as well as the sounds of the words.
Let’s review the conjugation of DIRE in the indicative mood.
How to conjugate DIRE in the present tense (Présent)
In English, there are two present tenses - the Present Simple and the Present Continuous. In French, there’s only one tense - Le Présent. French is easy, right?
In the present tense table below, you can see the two different meanings in English.
|Je dis||I say, I am saying|
|Tu dis||You say, you are saying|
|Il / elle dit||He / she says, he / she is saying|
|Nous disons||We say, we are saying|
|Vous dites||You say, you are saying|
|Ils / elles disent||They say, they are saying|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Imparfait
The imperfect is used to create a sense of something that continued happening in the past. In English we would say ‘I was doing something’ or that ‘I used to do it’.
|Je disais||I was saying|
|Tu disais||You were saying|
|Il / elle disait||He / she was saying|
|Nous disions||We were saying|
|Vous disiez||You were saying|
|Ils / elles disaient||They were saying|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Futur
|Je dirai||I will say|
|Tu diras||You will say|
|Il / elle dira||He / she will say|
|Nous dirons||We will say|
|Vous direz||You will say|
|Ils / elles diront||They will say|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Passé Composé
|J’ai dit||I said|
|Tu as dit||You said|
|Il / elle a dit||He / she said|
|Nous avons dit||We said|
|Vous avez dit||You said|
|Ils / elles ont dit||They said|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Passé Simple
|Je dis||I said|
|Tu dis||You said|
|Il / elle dit||He / she said|
|Nous dîmes||We said|
|Vous dîtes||You said|
|Ils / elles dirent||They said|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Plus-que-Parfait
|J’avais dit||I had said|
|Tu avais dit||You had said|
|Il / elle avait dit||He / she had said|
|Nous avions dit||We had said|
|Vous aviez dit||You had said|
|Ils / elles avaient dit||They had said|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Passé Antérieur
|J’eus dit||I had said|
|Tu eus dit||You had said|
|Il / elle eut dit||He / she had said|
|Nous eûmes dit||We had said|
|Vous eûtes dit||You had said|
|Ils / elles eurent dit||They had said|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Futur Antérieur
|J’aurai dit||I will have said|
|Tu auras dit||You will have said|
|Il / elle aura dit||He / she will have said|
|Nous aurons dit||We will have said|
|Vous aurez dit||You will have said|
|Ils auront dit||They will have said|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Subjunctive mood (Subjonctif)
How to conjugate dire in Present Subjunctive (Subjonctif Présent)
|que je dise||that I say|
|que tu dises||that you say|
|qu’il / elle dise||that he / she says|
|que nous disions||that we say|
|que vous disiez||that you say|
|qu’ils / elles disent||that they say|
How to conjugate dire in Imperfect Subjunctive (Subjonctif Imparfait)
|que je disse||that I was saying|
|que tu disses||that you were saying|
|qu’il / elle dît||that he / she was saying|
|que nous dissions||that we were saying|
|que vous dissiez||that you were saying|
|qu’ils / elles dissent||that they were saying|
How to conjugate dire in Past Subjunctive (Subjonctif Passé)
|que j’aie dit||that I said|
|que tu aies dit||that you said|
|qu’il / elle ait dit||that he / she said|
|que nous ayons dit||that we said|
|que vous ayez dit||that you said|
|qu’ils / elles aient dit||that they said|
How to conjugate Dire in Past Perfect Subjunctive (Plus-que-Parfait)
|que j’eusse dit||that I had said|
|que tu eusses dit||that you had said|
|qu’il / elle eût dit||that he / she had said|
|que nous eussions dit||that we had said|
|que vous eussiez dit||that you had said|
|qu’ils / elles eussent dit||that they had said|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Conditional Mood (Conditionnel)
How to conjugate dire in the Present Conditional (Conditionnel Présent)
|Je dirais||I would say|
|Tu dirais||You would say|
|Il / elle dirait||He / she would say|
|Nous dirions||We would say|
|Vous diriez||You would say|
|Ils / elles diraient||They would say|
How to conjugate dire in the Past Conditional (Conditionnel Passé)
|J’aurais dit||I would have said|
|Tu aurais dit||You would have said|
|Il / elle aurait dit||He / she would have said|
|Nous aurions dit||We would have said|
|Vous auriez dit||You would have said|
|Ils / elles auraient dit||They would have said|
How to conjugate dire in Participe
|Passé Composé||ayant dit|
How to conjugate DIRE in the Imperative Mood (Impératif)
|Passé||(tu) aie dit
(nous) ayons dit
(vous) ayez dit
How to conjugate DIRE in the Infinitive Mood (Infinitif)
Quick Exercise - fill in the blanks
1. Il n’a rien _____.
ANSWER: Il n’a rien dit.
2. Comment _______ - on ‘cheese’ en français?
ANSWER: Comment dit- on ‘cheese’ en français?
3. Qu’est-ce que tu ____ de mon plan?
ANSWER: Qu’est-ce que tu dis de mon plan?
4. Vous ______ toujours ce que vous pensez.
ANSWER: Vous dites toujours ce que vous pensez.
5. Ça ne me ____ rien.
ANSWER: Ça ne me dit rien.
6. Cela va sans _____.
ANSWER: Cela va sans dire.
7. Je t’ai _____ ce qui s’est passé.
ANSWER: Je t’ai dit ce qui s’est passé.
8. J’ai entendu _____ que les anglais sont sympa.
ANSWER: J’ai entendu dire que les anglais sont sympa.
9. Ils _______ toujours des bêtises.
ANSWER: Ils disaient toujours des bêtises.
10. Nous nous ________ tout
ANSWER: Nous nous disons tout.
DIRE is one of the more straightforward irregular verbs to learn, once you recognise just a couple of peculiarities, such as the 2nd person singular from in the present tense ending in ‘es’ rather than ‘ez’. Don’t forget it has two meanings - ‘to say’ as well as ‘to tell’ - but you can usually tell from the context which meaning is correct. And once you know how DIRE is conjugated, you can apply the same rules to Lire and Ecrire.
If you thought learning verbs meant learning by rote and chanting your way through them, you’re mistaken. You can easily and naturally get them set in your memory if you use the audio drills every day.