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March 10, 2021

French Verb DIRE TW

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.

  1. 1
    In 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).
  2. 2
    DIRE 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?).
  3. 3
    And 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 disI say, I am saying
Tu disYou say, you are saying
Il / elle ditHe / she says, he / she is saying
Nous disonsWe say, we are saying
Vous ditesYou say, you are saying
Ils / elles disentThey 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 disaisI was saying
Tu disaisYou were saying
Il / elle disaitHe / she was saying
Nous disionsWe were saying
Vous disiezYou were saying
Ils / elles disaientThey were saying

How to conjugate DIRE in the Futur

Je diraiI will say
Tu dirasYou will say
Il / elle diraHe / she will say
Nous dironsWe will say
Vous direzYou will say
Ils / elles dirontThey will say

How to conjugate DIRE in the Passé Composé

J’ai dit I said
Tu as ditYou said
Il / elle a ditHe / she said
Nous avons ditWe said
Vous avez ditYou said
Ils / elles ont ditThey said

How to conjugate DIRE in the Passé Simple

Je disI said
Tu disYou said
Il / elle ditHe / she said
Nous dîmesWe said
Vous dîtesYou said
Ils / elles direntThey said

How to conjugate DIRE in the Plus-que-Parfait 

J’avais dit I had said
Tu avais ditYou had said
Il / elle avait ditHe / she had said
Nous avions ditWe had said
Vous aviez ditYou had said
Ils / elles avaient ditThey had said

How to conjugate DIRE in the Passé Antérieur

J’eus ditI had said
Tu eus ditYou had said
Il / elle eut ditHe / she had said
Nous eûmes ditWe had said
Vous eûtes ditYou had said
Ils / elles eurent ditThey had said

How to conjugate DIRE in the Futur Antérieur

J’aurai ditI will have said
Tu auras ditYou will have said
Il / elle aura ditHe / she will have said
Nous aurons ditWe will have said
Vous aurez ditYou will have said
Ils auront ditThey will have said

How to conjugate DIRE in the Subjunctive mood (Subjonctif)

How to conjugate dire in Present Subjunctive (Subjonctif Présent)

que je disethat I say
que tu disesthat you say
qu’il / elle disethat he / she says
que nous disionsthat we say
que vous disiezthat you say
qu’ils / elles disentthat they say

How to conjugate dire in Imperfect Subjunctive (Subjonctif Imparfait)

que je dissethat I was saying
que tu dissesthat you were saying
qu’il / elle dîtthat he / she was saying
que nous dissionsthat we were saying
que vous dissiezthat you were saying
qu’ils / elles dissentthat they were saying

How to conjugate dire in Past Subjunctive (Subjonctif Passé)

que j’aie ditthat I said
que tu aies ditthat you said
qu’il / elle ait ditthat he / she said
que nous ayons ditthat we said
que vous ayez ditthat you said
qu’ils / elles aient ditthat they said

How to conjugate Dire in Past Perfect Subjunctive (Plus-que-Parfait) 

que j’eusse ditthat I had said
que tu eusses ditthat you had said
qu’il / elle eût ditthat he / she had said
que nous eussions ditthat we had said
que vous eussiez ditthat you had said
qu’ils / elles eussent ditthat they had said

How to conjugate DIRE in the Conditional Mood (Conditionnel)

How to conjugate dire in the Present Conditional (Conditionnel Présent)

Je diraisI would say
Tu diraisYou would say
Il / elle diraitHe / she would say
Nous dirionsWe would say
Vous diriezYou would say
Ils / elles diraientThey would say

How to conjugate dire in the Past Conditional (Conditionnel Passé)

J’aurais ditI would have said
Tu aurais ditYou would have said
Il / elle aurait ditHe / she would have said
Nous aurions ditWe would have said
Vous auriez ditYou would have said
Ils / elles auraient ditThey would have said

How to conjugate dire in Participe

Présentdisant
Passédit
Passé Composéayant dit

How to conjugate DIRE in the Imperative Mood (Impératif)

Présent(tu) dis
(nous) disons
(vous) dites
Passé(tu) aie dit
(nous) ayons dit
(vous) ayez dit

How to conjugate DIRE in the Infinitive Mood (Infinitif)

Présentdire
Passéavoir dit

Quick Exercise - fill in the blanks

1. Il n’a rien _____.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Il n’a rien dit.

2. Comment _______ - on ‘cheese’ en français?

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:        Comment dit- on ‘cheese’ en français?

3. Qu’est-ce que tu ____ de mon plan?

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:      Qu’est-ce que tu dis de mon plan?

4. Vous ______ toujours ce que vous pensez.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:       Vous dites toujours ce que vous pensez.

5. Ça ne me ____ rien.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:         Ça ne me dit rien.

6. Cela va sans _____.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:         Cela va sans dire.

7. Je t’ai _____ ce qui s’est passé.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Je t’ai dit ce qui s’est passé.

8. J’ai entendu _____ que les anglais sont sympa.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     J’ai entendu dire que les anglais sont sympa.

9. Ils _______ toujours des bêtises.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:       Ils disaient toujours des bêtises.

10. Nous nous ________ tout

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:      Nous nous disons tout.

Conclusion

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.

About the author 

Ginny Jackson

A self-confessed English francophile, Ginny loves immersing herself in French language and culture. Most of her working life has been spent teaching French to British pupils aged 2 to 18, as well as English as a foreign language to both school children and adults, in England and in France. Her teaching goal is to make learning fun and to find ways to enable learners to recall things easily, whether that's by identifying patterns, by making links with prior learning, or through mime and song. She spends as much of her free time as she can learning different languages---being able to communicate in a foreign language gives you such a buzz, it's well worth making the effort!

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