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How do you remember irregular conjugations?

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Guest Loco Mo Mo

Almost every rule has its irregular verbs that don't follow the same pattern. I've managed to learn the main rules for past, present and future tenses.

However, I'm struggling to find an effective way to remember all the damn exceptions. For example, for the future tense, verbs like aller, avoir, devoir, envoyer, être..., have irregular stems.

How do you remember all such stems and irregulars?

Thanks :)

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I learned them when I was 10-11 years old, so some time ago. But what we had to do was try to write several verbs (the most important ones or those that are the basis for the conjugation of other verbs like venir) in all tenses. This we did every other week and it worked very well. Plus it doesn't take much time.

I'd also advise trying to finding gap texts where you have to find the suitable word and conjugations.

Depending on your level of french, there shouldn't be too many difficult verbs anyway.

Some you should always know are the two auxiliaires avoir and être. Devoir, vouloir, savoir and pouvoir are probably the other irregular verbs that pop up a lot.

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For me, when I learn Spanish I just genuinely have to learn it. But there are loads of resources on the internet that help, like this one:

https://conjuguemos.com/

It's an amazing website that helps with regular/irregular verb forms, past/present/future tenses etc, and it's in French too. (For others interested, it also has Spanish, German, Italian, Latin and Portuguese).

Bonne chance!

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Spanish has a lot of irregular verb forms in the past preterite tense. First of all, if you're not using flash cards, start now. They practice your verbs and also help train your brain to "think" in the language, which is what you need in order to gain fluency. After all, the native speakers of even the most difficult languages on earth don't think twice about the very things that make second-language learners sweat.

You might want to look around for rhymes or songs that demonstrate the irregular conjugations so that you associate them with a rhythm in your mind.

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Best way I ever found to concrete them in my mind was using them. Even if it's just when you're on the train or the bus in the morning, have a random mental narrative going when you just describe what you're going to do in your day or really just anything you fancy thinking about and challenge yourself to translate the verbs in it (or actually as much of it all as possible) into French.

Ideal thing is to have a conversation with a fluent speaker and try to get them to ask you questions where you have to conjugate a lot of verbs, but it's a lot less easy to arrange this - so doing mental translations of things in your day (or even better if you don't have to translate but can attempt to think in the language) is pretty decent as a substitute. Have all the verbs written down on a tiny piece of paper and just stick it in your pocket or inside a book you always carry. Then if you get stuck, whip it out and remind yourself.

After a while they start to come very naturally and you'll no longer have a problem with them - and the best part is that in all the situations where you're required to be able to conjugate, you have to go through exactly this process of thinking, translating in your head etc. for things like orals, writing and so on. So it's really the perfect practice because you're challenging yourself to think in exactly the same way as will help you most in the exam and your speech will flow extremely naturally if you can nail it. Verbs I learned through this method I can still remember today - which is several years on from ever having spoken a word of it!

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