Conjugate semi-regular -cer verbs in Le Présent (present tense)

In French, to preserve the soft c in front of vowels a/o/u, we use ç.
This rule applies to verbs ending in -cer when they are conjugated.
In Présent indicatif, it only affects the nous form of the verb, because of the ending -ons.

Have a look at the verb LANCER (to throw) in Présent indicatif:

je

lance

tu

lances

il / elle / on     

lance

nous

lançons 

vous

lancez

ils/elles

lancent

Other -cer verbs include :

relancer (to throw back)
placer (to place)
commencer (to begin)
prononcer (to pronounce)
menacer (to threaten)
pincer (to pinch)
etc

Have a listen to these examples:

Je te menace.
I'm threatening you.

À quelle heure tu commences ?
What time do you start?

Mon fils pince souvent sa sœur.
My son often pinches his sister.

Nous lançons la balle.
We're throwing the ball.

Comment placez-vous vos invités ?
How are you seating your guests?

Ils sucent encore leur pouce.
They're still sucking their thumbs.

 

See also Conjugate semi-regular -ger verbs in Le Présent (present tense)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Comment placez-vous vos invités ?
How are you seating your guests?



Ils sucent encore leur pouce.
They're still sucking their thumbs.


Nous lançons la balle.
We're throwing the ball.


Je te menace.
I'm threatening you.


Nous commençons à apprendre le français.
We begin to learn French.


Mon fils pince souvent sa sœur.
My son often pinches his sister.


À quelle heure tu commences ?
What time do you start?


Q&A

Brad

Kwiziq community member

17 January 2019

2 replies

Could you say "Ils sucent encore le pouce"?

In the lesson "Using le, la, les with body parts and clothing (definite articles)", the definite article is used instead of the possessive.

One of the examples in that lesson:

Ils ont les yeux fermésThey have their eyes closed

Following that example, we'd come up with "Ils sucent encore le pouce" instead of "Ils sucent encore leur pouce".

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

20 January 2019

20/01/19

Hi Brad, 

The expression is ,

‘Sucer son pouce’,  which uses a possessive adjective

There are lots of expressions involving parts of the body which will sound strange in French as different from what is said in English.... but I am afraid that’s just how it is.

Brad

Kwiziq community member

23 January 2019

23/01/19

Thanks, Cécile. Good to know that this specific case is an exception to the general rule.

Pekka

Kwiziq community member

12 November 2018

2 replies

Ils sucent encore leur pouce?

why the singular pouce here and not the plural pouces, as they each have a thumb/pouce and not a mutual thumb, which they all would be sucking?

Pekka from Helsinki

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

13 November 2018

13/11/18

Hi Pekka,

Interesting question!

It's probably because you can only suck one thumb at a time and that if you said in French,

Ils sucent encore leurs pouces -

it would indicate you they (ils) were sucking the other people's thumbs as well...

very odd ...

Hope this helps!

 

 

 

Pekka

Kwiziq community member

13 November 2018

13/11/18

Thanks and thumbs/ pouces up!

John

Kwiziq community member

23 October 2018

5 replies

What does je puis mean?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

23 October 2018

23/10/18

Je puis is actually incorrect. The correct form is:

Je peux. -- I can (the verb is an irregular from of pouvoir).

That said, if you form an inverted question, for example: "Can I help you?" you would say:

Puis-je vous aider? -- Can I help you? You might think it ought to be peux-je and not puis-je but that's where French is throwing yo a curve ball. That's just an exception you have to memorize.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

23 October 2018

23/10/18

I don't think you can say that "je puis" is incorrect, it's just a bit old-fashioned or formal. For example, you'll find Michel Barnier using this in some Brexit statements:

"Je parle au nom des 27 chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement, si je puis dire aussi au nom du Parlement européen, il y a unanimité du côté de l'UE pour que dans l'accord de retrait que je dois mettre sur la table (...) il y ait un règlement sérieux avec les Britanniques"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

23 October 2018

23/10/18

Here is what my French go-to native speaker says: "Jamais dans la vie courante. C'est d'un style très littéraire, ou ancien."

Tom

Kwiziq community member

23 October 2018

23/10/18

Hi Alan,

Je puis is certainly not incorrect and as you pointed out 'si je puis dire' is a very common expression.

I had a look through my electronic copy of "Le petit prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and every one of the numerous instances of 'I can' is rendered as 'Je puis' and none as 'Je peux'. This novella, voted the most popular book of the 20th century, with a recommended reading age starting from 9 years, can hardly be deemed either supremely literary or archaic.

Or perhaps it could be that these aristos cannot forgo their lofty language even when writing for children. ☺

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

24 October 2018

24/10/18

Je puis is very formal and can sound pompous, you might  hear it said between friends for comical effects.

In some shops, someone might ask you "Puis-je vous aider?" which is the very formal way of adressing customers like,  "Que puis-je faire pour vous?".

In everyday life, you will say: 

Est-ce que je peux vous/t'aider?

Quest-ce que je peux faire pour vous/toi?

Hope this helps!

Thinking...