Verbs with Spelling Changes

Regular verbs with spelling changes are often referred to as “shoe” verbs because their changes often occur in the je, tu, il, and ils forms, creating the effect of a shoe:

There are five categories of verbs that require spelling changes:

Verbs ending in ‐cer: Change c to ç before a or o to maintain a soft sound. In the present, this occurs only in the nous form:

  • placer (to place): je place, tu places, il place, nous plaçons, vous placez, ils placent
  • Other ‐cer verbs include annoncer, avancer, commencer, effacer (to erase), lancer (to throw), menacer, prononcer, remplacer (to replace), and renoncer à (to give up).

Verbs ending in ‐ger: Insert a silent e between g and a and g and o to maintain a soft sound. In the present, this occurs only in the nous form:

  • nager (to swim): je nage, tu nages, il nage, nous nageons, vous nagez, ils nagent
  • Other ‐ger verbs include arranger, changer, corriger (to correct), déménager (to move), déranger (to disturb), diriger (to direct), manger (to eat), obliger, partager (to divide), plonger (to dive), ranger (to tidy), songer à (to think about), and voyager.

Verbs ending in ‐yer: Change y to i before silent e in all “shoe” forms:

  • envoyer (to send): j'envo ie, tu envo ies, il envo ie, nous envoyons, vous envoyez, ils envo ient
  • Other ‐yer verbs include employer, ennuyer (to bother), essuyer (to wipe), nettoyer (to clean), and renvoyer (to fire).
  • Verbs that end in ‐ayer may or may not change the y to i before a silent e. These verbs include essayer (to try) and payer.

Verbs ending in ‐e + consonant + er: Change the silent e before the infinitive ending to è for all forms within the “shoe”:

  • peser (to weigh): je p èse, tu p èses, il p èse, nous pesons, vous pesez, ils p èsent
  • Other e + consonant + er verbs include acheter (to buy), achever (to finish), amener (to bring), élever (to bring up, to raise), emmener (to lead away), enlever (to remove), geler (to freeze), lever (to raise), and promener (to walk).
  • Two common verbs, appeler (to call) and jeter (to throw), along with any related verbs, such as rappeler (to recall), rejeter (to reject), projeter (to project), double the consonant before the infinitive ending in all forms within the “shoe”:
  • appeler: j'appe lle, tu appe lles, il appe lle, nous appelons, vous appelez, ils appe llent
  • jeter: je je tte, tu je ttes, il je tte, nous jetons, vous jetez, ils je ttent

Verbs ending in é + consonant + er: Change é to è within the “shoe”:

  • préférer (to prefer): je préf ère, tu préf ères, il préf ère, nous préférons, vous préférez, ils préf èrent
  • Other é + consonant + er verbs include célébrer, espérer (to hope), posséder (to possess), protéger (to protect), and répéter (to repeat).