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To Buy or Not to Buy: How to Use the French “Acheter” Conjugation

Some words are essential when traveling abroad or trying to communicate in a foreign language, and one verb that you won’t be able to live without in French-speaking countries is acheter. Whether you’re grocery shopping, buying souvenirs or just chatting to friends, the acheter conjugation is bound to come up sooner or later.

Acheter Meaning

For once, there is no second meaning of the verb: Acheter means “to buy”. Enjoy this moment, because it’s rare that a French verb is quite so straightforward.

Pronunciation of Acheter

You will notice that sometimes the conjugated verb has an accent over the “e” and other times it doesn’t.

The infinitive verb “acheter” doesn’t have an accent. The pronunciation of the letter “e” in this case sounds like the “e” in “verb”.

  • acheter: ah – shuh – tay

Certain forms of the verb have a grave accent over the “e”. This transforms the sound to resemble that of the “e” in “shed”.

  • achète/achètes/achètent: ah – shet

Acheter Conjugation in the Present Tense (le présent)

The French language only has one present tense, which means you will use these conjugations whether you’re speaking about something that’s in the process of happening (the English present continuous) or if you’re talking about a regular activity, habit or fact (the English present simple).


I buy

Tu achètes

You buy

Il/elle/on achète

He/she/it buys

Nous achetons

We buy

Vous achetez

You buy (formal/plural)

Ils/elles achètent

They buy

  • Il achète du pain en rentrant à la maison – He buys bread on his way home

  • Je suis au supermarché, j’achète les ingrédients pour faire un gâteau – I’m at the supermarket, I’m buying the ingredients to make a cake

  • Ils achètent de nouveaux habits tous les mois – They buy new clothes every month

Acheter Conjugation in the Imperfect Tense (l’imparfait)


I used to buy

Tu achetais

You used to buy

Il/elle/on achetait

He/she/it used to buy

Nous achetions

We used to buy

Vous achetiez

You used to buy (formal/plural)

Ils/elles achetaient

They used to buy

  • Tu m’achetais des cadeaux plus souvent au début de notre couple – You used to buy me gifts more often at the start of our relationship

  • Quand j’étais petit, nous allions à la boulangerie et nous achetions des viennoiseries – When I was young, we used to go to the bakery, and we used to buy pastries

  • Vous achetiez la nourriture tandis que nous fournissions le divertissement – You used to buy the food while we used to provide the entertainment

Acheter Conjugation in Passé Composé

Acheté in English means bought, in the past tense. It’s the past participle and can be used with French composed tenses such as the present perfect and the pluperfect.

J’ai acheté

I bought

Tu as acheté

You bought

Il/elle/on a acheté

He/she/it bought

Nous avons acheté

We bought

Vous avez acheté

You bought (formal/plural)

Ils/elles ont acheté

They bought

  • J’ai acheté trois bouteilles d’eau pour la randonnée – I bought three bottles of water for the hike

  • Elle a acheté tout ce qu’il faut pour fêter son anniversaire – She bought everything we need to celebrate her birthday

  • Ils ont acheté une maison au-dessus du prix du marché – They bought a house above the market price

Acheter Conjugation in Futur Simple


I will buy

Tu achèteras

You will buy

Il/elle/on achètera

He/she/it will buy

Nous achèterons

We will buy

Vous achèterez

You will buy (formal/plural)

Ils/elles achèteront

They will buy

  • Tu achèteras les meubles et je te rembourserai la moitie – You’ll buy the furniture, and I’ll pay you back half

  • Il achètera un appartement quand il aura assez d’argent – He’ll buy an apartment when he has enough money

  • Nous achèterons une maison dans les Alpes un jour – We’ll buy a house in the Alps one day

Acheter Conjugation in the Near Future (le futur proche)

Je vais acheter

I am going to buy

Tu vas acheter

You are going to buy

Il/elle/on va acheter

He/she/it is going to buy

Nous allons acheter

We are going to buy

Vous allez acheter

You are going to buy (formal/plural)

Ils/elles vont acheter

They are going to buy

  • Je vais acheter un agenda pour noter mes rendez-vous – I’m going to buy a diary to note down my appointments

  • Elle va acheter une télévision pour mettre dans sa chambre – She’s going to buy a TV to put in her bedroom

  • Vous allez acheter un sapin naturel ou artificiel ? – Are you going to buy a real or fake Christmas tree?

Acheter Conjugation in the Plus-que-parfait (pluperfect tense)

The pluperfect tense is used to talk about an action that took place before another action in the past tense. It therefore has to be paired with another past tense, either the present perfect or the imperfect, to show which action occurred first.

J’avais acheté

I had bought

Tu avais acheté

You had bought

Il/elle/on avait acheté

He/she/it had bought

Nous avions acheté

We had bought

Vous aviez acheté

You had bought (formal/plural)

Ils/elles avaient acheté

They had bought

  • Il voulait de la bière mais j’avais déjà acheté du vin – He wanted beer, but I had already bought wine

  • Nous avions déjà acheté notre maison quand notre fille est née – We had already bought our house when our daughter was born

  • Elles avaient acheté des billets avant de connaître le jour du spectacle – They bought tickets before knowing the date of the show

Acheter Conjugation in the Conditional Present

The conditional present is used, you guessed it, when something would only happen on the condition of something else happening first. It is often used to express wishes and hypothetical situations, and is usually paired with “si”, meaning if, as well as the imperfect tense.


I would buy

Tu achèterais

You would buy

Il/elle/on achèterait

He/she/it would buy

Nous achèterions

We would buy

Vous achèteriez

You would buy (formal/plural)

Ils/elles achèteraient

They would buy

  • Si je gagnais au loto, j’achèterais une île paradisiaque – If I won the lottery, I would buy a paradise island

  • Qu’est-ce que tu achèterais si tu étais à ma place ? – What would you buy if you were in my shoes?

  • Ils achèteraient des bonbons s’ils ne faisaient pas de régime – They would buy candy if they weren’t on a diet

Acheter Conjugation in the Subjunctive Mood (le subjonctif)

The subjunctive mood is used in specific situations, but one thing you should know is that it is always introduced by the word “que”. Often when you have a feeling or doubt followed by the word “que”, we employ the subjunctive form of the verb.

que j’achète

that I buy

que tu achètes

that you buy

qu’il/elle/on achète

that he/she/it buys

que nous achetions

that we buy

que vous achetiez

that you buy (formal/plural)

qu’ils/elles achètent

that they buy

  • Il faut que nous achetions plus de couverts avant d’inviter des gens – We need to buy more cutlery before we invite people over

  • Je veux qu’il achète ses propres fournitures de bureau – I want him to buy his own office supplies

  • Leur mère refuse qu’elles achètent autant de maquillage – Their mother refuses to let them buy so much makeup

Useful Phrases That Use the Acheter Conjugation

Sometimes it’s useful to have a few key phrases stored in your mind’s language bank. When talking about money and purchases, these terms might help you to understand what is being said, and you can use them to show off your skills beyond the basic conjugations.

  • Acheter en gros – To buy in bulk

Buying things in large quantities means paying more money outright, but helps you to save money in the long run. Stores buy from suppliers in bulk, but you could also use this to talk about stocking up on goods at home.

  • Acheter à crédit – To buy on credit

This could come in handy when making larger purchases, for example, a car or other expensive item. If you can’t afford to pay outright, then you can always acheter à crédit.

  • Acheter comptant / acheter au comptant – To buy with cash or pay outright

The opposite to buying on credit is buying for cash, or buying something outright. This is the case for all purchases that don’t require a loan, but it is mainly used when talking about large purchases such as real estate and cars, to show that you have the money ready and don’t require a mortgage or any other financial assistance.

  • Acheter en liquide – To pay in cash

Unlike “acheter comptant”, it isn’t used to express that you have the resources to pay for something, instead it is more literal. “Acheter en liquide” is used when paying for something with cash rather than with a credit card or other payment method. Liquide is a synonym of espèces, meaning bills and coins.

  • Acheter en solde – To buy at sale price

Whether you love rummaging through the racks searching for a bargain, or the idea of visiting a packed store during sales periods is your worst nightmare, one thing we can all agree on is that sales equal savings! If you want to buy things at reduced prices in Francophone countries, then you need to acheter en solde, or go shopping during “les soldes”, the twice-yearly French sales.

Acheter Expressions

Some expressions are the same in English and in French and can be translated literally, such as “to buy someone’s silence” and “to buy time”. However, there are a few additional expressions that use the acheter conjugation which French learners of all levels could find interesting.

1. Mieux vaut acheter qu’emprunter – Better to buy than borrow

French proverb, often used to talk about buying rather than renting accomodation.

Literal translation: It’d be better to buy than to borrow

  • L’appartement va coûter cher au début, mais mieux vaut acheter qu’emprunter – The apartment will be expensive at first, but it’s better to buy than borrow

2. S’acheter une conduite – To turn over a new leaf

Literal translation: To buy oneself a conduct/behavior

  • Je suis plus responsable maintenant, je me suis acheter une conduite – I’m more responsible now, I’ve turned over a new leaf

3. Acheter à prix d’or – To pay a fortune for

Literal translation: To buy at the price of gold

  • Je ne comprendrai jamais les gens qui achètent des vêtements simples à prix d’or – I’ll never understand people who pay a fortune for basic clothes

Payer vs. Acheter

As a general rule, payer means “to pay” rather than “to buy”. That said, “buy” is synonymous with “pay for” which can lead to some confusion. In French, if somebody says they will pay you something, it means they will buy it for you. Unless it’s your employer speaking, you can assume that the person is not offering to pay you money, but instead pay for something.

  • J’ai oublié mon porte-monnaie dans la voiture, tu peux me payer mon café ? – I left my wallet in the car, can you buy my coffee for me?

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

Learning the acheter conjugation might seem daunting at first, but don’t worry, it comes naturally with practice.

Test your skills and see what you’ve learned from this article by playing a selection of sentences with forms of the verb acheter.

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