French word of the week: venir

Our French word this week is the verb venir. Have a listen to the audio clip below to hear how to pronounce its infinitive form:

This is a very commonly used verb meaning to come. But unfortunately for French learners, venir follows an irregular conjugation pattern. As it’s a verb of movement, it also takes être as its auxiliary verb. Verbs relating to movement, like venir, which do not have a direct object, can also be followed by an infinitive. You can find out more on our grammar page about verbs followed by an infinitive without a preposition.

The examples below show how we use the verb in this way, as well as some other situations where you may encounter venir:

Il faut qu’il vienne chercher son fils à l’école, il est très malade. He needs to come and pick his son up from school, he’s very ill.

Viens voir ma nouvelle chemise. Come and see my new top.

Nous venons rester chez vous la semaine prochaine. We’re coming to stay with you next week.

Qui est venu vous voir hier soir ? Who came to see you last night?

faire venir to call out; to get someone to come out; to fetch someone

Tu dois faire venir le plombier. You have to get the plumber to come out.

à venir coming up; forthcoming; ahead

dans les années à venir in the years to come

Si j’avais besoin d’aide, elle viendrait toute suite. If I needed help, she would come right away.

When followed by the preposition de, venir has some useful but quite different translations. When you see the combination of venir + de + verb, it means to have just done a given action. For example:

venir de faire… to have just done…

venir de voir… to have just seen…

Nous venons de partir. We’ve just left.

On vient de rendre visite à mes parents. We have just been to visit to my parents.

However, this not the case when venir de is followed by a noun. When you see venir + de + noun, then it describes where something, or someone, has come from:

Beaucoup de mots anglais viennent du latin. Lots of English words come from Latin.

Ces diplomates sont venus de Luxembourg. These diplomats came from Luxembourg.

Finally, it’s interesting to note the use of venir as an impersonal verb. In this case, the verb is preceded by the impersonal pronoun il, then followed by the proposition à or an indirect object pronoun:

S’il vient à faire gris, on va rentrer chez nous. If it happens to get cloudy, we’re going back home.

Il me vient une très bonne idée. A very good idea has just come to me.

Well, that’s all for this week. You’ve gained some extra knowledge on a new verb, with plenty more to come in our next blog!

Written by Holly Tarbet, freelance copywriter and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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