French verb focus: dire, ‘to say’

French verb focus: <i>dire</i>, ‘to say’

The French verb dire is irregular, but not very difficult to learn. One strange thing is the ‘vous’ form (2nd person plural) of the present tense, which does not end in the usual ‘-ez’, but is ‘vous dites‘. It is obviously a common verb and therefore important to learn.

Present tense
Je dis – I say/tell, I am saying/telling
Tu dis – you say/tell, you are saying/telling (sing.fam.)
Il dit – he/it says/tells, he/it is saying/telling
Elle dit – she/it says/tells, she/it is saying/telling
Nous disons – we say/tell, we are saying/telling
Vous dites – you say/tell, you are saying/telling (
Ils disent – they say/tell, they are saying/telling (m.)
Elles disent – they say/tell, they are saying/telling (f.)

(sing.fam.) – singular, familiar
( – polite, plural

Perfect tense – passé composé
J’ai dit – I have said/told, I said/told
Tu as dit – you have said/told, you said/told
Il a dit – he/it has said/told, he/it said/told
Elle a dit – she/it has said/told, she/it said told
Nous avons dit – we have said/told, we said/told
Vous avez dit – you have said/told, you said/told
Ils/elles ont dit – they have said/told, they said/told


Future tense
Je dirai à mon ami de me rencontrer en ville. – I will say tell my friend to meet me in town.
Tu me diras à quelle heure il faut arriver. – You will tell me what time I must arrive.
Il nous dira tout ce qu’il sait. – He will tell us all he knows.
Elle leur dira ce qu’il faut faire. – She will tell them what has to be done.
Nous dirons à nos parents où nous allons rester. – We will tell our parents where we are going to stay.
Vous direz ce que vous voudrez. – You will say what you like.
Ils lui diront des bêtises. – They will tell her nonsense.

Imperfect tense
Je disais des mensonges. – I was telling lies.

Conditional tense
Je dirais – I would say

Il faut que je dise la vérité. – I have to tell the truth.

Dis – say/tell for example: dis-moi – tell me (tu form)
Disons – let’s say/tell for example: Il faut acheter quelques livres, disons huit. – We have to buy a few books, let’s say eight.
Dites – say/tell for example: dites-leur – tell them

Vouloir dire – to mean
Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire? – What does that mean?

With thanks to Elizabeth Allen

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