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All about Avoir

Everything you need to know about the irregular French verb avoir

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Avoir is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in conjugation and literally means "to have." In addition, it is used in numerous idiomatic expressions and as an auxiliary verb.

To Have

Avoir means "to have" in most senses, including having in one's possession and currently experiencing.

   J'ai deux stylos
   I have two pens

   J'ai trois frères
   I have three brothers

   J'ai mal à la tête
   I have a headache

   J'ai une idée
   I have an idea

   J'ai été eu
   I've been had (tricked)

Note: Avoir à can mean "to have to," but that expression is more commonly translated by devoir.


Expressions with Avoir

Avoir is used in a number of idiomatic expressions, many of which are translated by the English verb "to be":

   J'ai 30 ans
   I am 30 years old

   J'ai soif
   I am thirsty

   J'ai froid
   I am cold

   Il y a...
   There is/are...


Auxiliary Verb

Avoir is the auxiliary for most French verbs in the compound tenses (exceptions):

   J'ai déjà étudié
   I have already studied.

   J'aurai mangé avant ton arrivée
   I will have eaten before you arrive

   Si j'avais su, je t'aurais téléphoné
   If I had known, I would have called you


Conjugations

Present tense

   j'ai
   tu as
   il a
   nous avons
   vous avez
   ils ont

All tenses


Most common French verbs
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