French Verb SAVOIR: How to Conjugate

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February 12, 2021

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The verb SAVOIR usually means to know and it has irregular forms but it is at least conjugated with avoir in its past tense forms so that makes it easier to learn.  There are, though, two verbs which mean ‘to know’, the other one being connaître. Don’t confuse them: SAVOIR means to know facts, how to do something, and being aware of something, whereas connaître means to know a person (or a place). If you’ve studied Spanish, the rule is similar to ‘saber’ and ‘conocer’.

French Verb SAVOIR TW

In this article, you’re going to learn about some of the more common uses of VOIR, and there is a short quiz at the end to help you remember some of the key parts and uses of the verb. The bonus MP3 audio files will help you develop your listening and pronunciation skills, and the verb drills will help you memorise the conjugation tables more easily.

The audio is included in the fully-packed French Learning Package which you can access for free when you sign up to join our mailing list.

Uses of SAVOIR

SAVOIR is another irregular verb, meaning it doesn’t follow a recognised pattern when you conjugate it. Make sure you look out for the irregularities in the different tenses and moods but see if you can start to see similarities in the structure of different tenses.

SAVOIR is used in three particular ways.

  1. 1
    SAVOIR means ‘to know’ in the sense of something you have learned or found out. Example: Je sais danser (I know how to dance) and Il sait mon adresse (He knows my address).
  2. 2
    It can be used in the passé composé to express that you have found something out. Example: Ah oui, je l’ai su hier (Oh yes, I found that out yesterday).
  3. 3
    In the conditionnel, it is used to express a sense of ‘could’ or ‘would’ and being able to do something. Example: Je saurais cacher mon colère.  (I would be able to hide my anger).

Conjugation of SAVOIR

Once again, this is an irregular verb and doesn’t follow any of the regular patterns. Keep repeating the verb and listening to the audio, though, 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 SAVOIR in the indicative mood.

How to conjugate SAVOIR 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? 

This particular verb is rarely found in the present continuous - ‘I am knowing’ just doesn’t sound right, does it? - so you only have the present simple meaning in the table below.

Je saisI know
Tu saisYou know
Il / elle saitHe / she knows
Nous savonsWe know
Vous savezYou know
Ils / elles saventThey know

How to conjugate SAVOIR 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’. 

However, with SAVOIR, that sense of continuation is understood without the word ‘was’ being used. 

Before deciding which tense to use (imparfait or passé composé), consider the frequency and how far back in time the events or facts happened.
Je savaisI knew
Tu savaisYou knew
Il / elle savaitHe / she knew
Nous savionsWe knew
Vous saviezYou knew
Ils / elles savaientThey knew

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Futur

Je sauraiI will know
Tu saurasYou will know
Il / elle sauraHe / she will know
Nous sauronsWe will know
Vous saurezYou will know
Ils / elles saurontThey will know

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Passé Composé

J’ai suI knew
Tu as suYou knew
Il / elle a suHe / she knew
Nous avons suWe knew
Vous avez suYou knew
Ils / elles ont suThey knew

Think carefully, when using this tense or the imparfait, about whether the ‘knowing’ continued in the past or was short-lived, so that you know which tense to use.

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Passé Simple

Je susI knew
Tu susYou knew
Il / elle sutHe / she knew
Nous sûmesWe knew
Vous sûtesYou knew
Ils / elles surentThey knew

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Plus-que-Parfait

J’avais suI had known
Tu avais suYou had know
Il / elle avait suHe / she had known
Nous avions suWe had known
Vous aviez suYou had known
Ils / elles avaient suThey had known

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Passé Antérieur

J’eus suI had known
Tu eus suYou had known
Il / elle eut suHe / she had known
Nous eûmes suWe had known
Vous eûtes suYou had known
Ils / elles eurent suThey had known

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Futur Antérieur

J’aurai suI will have known
Tu auras suYou will have known
Il / elle aura suHe / she will have known
Nous aurons suWe will have known
Vous aurez suYou will have known
Ils auront suThey will have known

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Subjunctive mood (Subjonctif)

Présent

que je sachethat I know
que tu sachesthat you know
qu’il / elle sachethat he / she know
que nous sachionsthat we know
que vous sachiezthat you know
qu’ils / elles sachentthat they know

Imparfait

que je sussethat I was knowing
que tu sussesthat you were knowing
qu’il / elle sûtthat he / she was knowing
que nous sussionsthat we were knowing
que vous sussiezthat you were knowing
qu’ils / elles sussentthat they were knowing

Passé

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

Plus-que-Parfait 

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

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Conditional Mood (Conditionnel)

Présent

Je sauraisI would know
Tu sauraisYou would know
Il / elle sauraitHe / she would know
Nous saurionsWe would know
Vous sauriezYou would know
Ils / elles sauraientThey would know

Passé

J’aurais suI would have known
Tu aurais suYou would have known
Il / elle aurait suHe / she would have known
Nous aurions suWe would have known
Vous auriez suYou would have known
Ils / elles auraient suThey would have known

Participe

Présentsachant
Passésu
Passé Composéayant su

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Imperative Mood (Impératif)

Présent(tu) sache
(nous) sachons
(vous) sachez
Passé(tu) aie su
(nous) ayons su
(vous) ayez su

How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Infinitive Mood (Infinitif)

Présentsavoir
Passéavoir su

Quick Exercise - fill in the blanks

1. Il _____ conduire.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Il sait conduire.

2. Elles _______ qu’elles on tort.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Elles savent qu’elles ont tort.

3. _______ - vous l’heure?.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Savez - vous l’heure?.

 

4. Je ne _________ t’aider.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Je ne saurais t’aider.

5. Elle est d’accord? A _______!

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Elle est d’accord? A savoir!

6. Il m’a parlé sans le _________.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Il m’a parlé sans le savoir.

7. Sans doute, tu as le ______ - faire.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Sans doute, tu as le savoir - faire.

8. La cuisine française, tu en ______ quelque chose.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:      La cuisine française, tu en savais quelque chose.

9. Il faut que tu ______ la vérité.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Il faut que tu saches la vérité.

10. Je ______ que nous serions de bons amis.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

ANSWER:     Je savais que nous serions de bons amis.

Conclusion

SAVOIR is another useful but irregular verb to learn. It’s important that you know what it is you know so as not to mix it up with connaître. You might by now be starting to recognise the different patterns that the different tenses bring, and that usually only parts of each form will actually change. Understand the pattern and then think about how the verb you’re learning modifies what you know.

So how will you go about learning them? 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 

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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