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An In-Depth Guide to the “Devenir” Conjugation in French

The verb “devenir” is quite common in the French language. It means “to become”, but can also be translated differently in various contexts. You might think that the devenir conjugation looks familiar, and that’s probably because it contains the verb “venir” meaning “to come”. If you’re familiar with the venir conjugation then you’re already off to a great start.

Important Things to Know about the Devenir Conjugation

While “devenir” usually means “to become”, it can also be used any time we want to talk about a transition from one state to another. A few common examples include devenir grand, devenir fou, and devenir amis, which mean to grow up, to go crazy and to make friends, respectively.

It can also mean “to become of” somebody or something, in the sense “happen to”, for example:

  • Que va devenir l’école maintenant que le directeur a démissionné ? – What will become of the school now that the head teacher has resigned?
  • J’ai peur de penser à ce que deviendra l’enfant si sa mère ne revient pas – I dread to think what will become of the child if her mother doesn’t come back

Take note of where the vowels are when reading and writing “devenir”. A very similarly spelled word which it mustn’t be confused with is “deviner” which means “to guess”.

The devenir conjugation is one that requires the auxiliary “être” rather than “avoir”. You will see this in compound tenses such as the passé composé and pluperfect tenses. The mnemonic device “Dr. Mrs. Vandertramp” can help you to learn the other verbs that use “être” as a helping verb.

Devenir Conjugation Present Tense (le présent)

You can use the French present tense to talk about regular occurrences, habits, facts and things that are happening right at this very moment. If you’re familiar with the verb “venir” then simply add the prefix de- to all the venir conjugations.

Je deviens

I become

Tu deviens

You become

Il/elle/on devient

He/she/it becomes

Nous devenons

We become

Vous devenez

You become (formal/plural)

Ils/elles deviennent

They become

  • Grâce à vous, je deviens une meilleure version de moi-même – Thanks to you, I’m becoming a better version of myself
  • Nous devenons de plus en plus fatigués avec l’âge – We become more and more tired with age
  • Ils deviennent agressifs lorsqu’ils vivent en captivité – They become aggressive when they live in captivity

Devenir Conjugation Imperfect Tense (l’imparfait)

The imperfect tense indicates that you used to do something regularly in the past, or that you were carrying out an action for an extended period of time.

Je devenais

I used to become/was becoming

Tu devenais

You used to become/were becoming

Il/elle/on devenait

He/she/it used to become/was becoming

Nous devenions

We used to become/were becoming

Vous deveniez

You used to become/were becoming (formal/plural)

Ils/elles devenaient

They used to become/were becoming

  • Tu devenais obsédé par l’affaire non élucidée – You were becoming obsessed with the unsolved case
  • Il devenait facilement fatiguée à cause de sa maladie – He used to get tired easily due to his illness
  • Vous deveniez fou en étant enfermé chez vous pendant le confinement – You were going crazy being locked in your house during the lockdown.

Devenir Conjugation Passé Composé

To talk about actions that have finished in the past, we use the French passé composé. This tense usually has the auxiliary “avoir” followed by a verb’s past participle. Some verbs, however, are paired with the verb “être”. Devenir is one of those verbs, and its past participle is “devenu”.

A complex part of the French language that many students struggle to grasp is verb agreement. This is where we add an “e” to the past participle of a verb when the subject of the sentence is feminine, an “s” when the subject is plural and “es” when the subject is both feminine and plural. With the auxiliary “être”, the verb must always agree with the subject.

Je suis devenu·e

I became

Tu es devenu·e

You became

Il/elle/on est devenu·e

He/she/it became

Nous sommes devenu·e·s

We became

Vous êtes devenu·e·s

You became (formal/plural)

Ils/elles sont devenu·e·s

They became

  • Quand j’étais blessé, je suis devenu un fardeau pour toute l’équipe – When I was injured I became a burden for the whole team
  • Elle est devenue fatigué de leurs jeux puérils – She became tired of their childish games
  • Nous sommes devenus des infirmiers pour aider ceux qui en avaient besoin – We became nurses to help those in need

Devenir Conjugation Future Tense (le futur simple)

For hypothetical scenarios and things that are likely to happen in the distant future, we must use le futur simple. For the devenir verb conjugation, the future stem is deviendr- to which we add the usual future endings.

Je deviendrai

I will become

Tu deviendras

You will become

Il/elle/on deviendra

He/she/it will become

Nous deviendrons

We will become

Vous deviendrez

You will become (formal/plural)

Ils/elles deviendront

They will become

  • Quand je serai grand, je deviendrai un super-héros – When I grow up, I will become a superhero
  • Il deviendra ce qu’il aspire à être – He will become whatever he aspires to be
  • Ils deviendront célèbres pour leur travail humanitaire – They will become famous for their humanitarian work

Devenir Conjugation Near Future (le futur proche)

When we use the verb “aller” along with an infinitive verb, this forms the near future tense. We can use le futur proche for things that are about to take place, as well as things we intend to do.

Je vais devenir

I am going to become

Tu vas devenir

You are going to become

Il/elle/on va devenir

He/she/it is going to become

Nous allons devenir

We are going to become

Vous allez devenir

You are going to become (formal/plural)

Ils/elles vont devenir

They are going to become

  • Comment vas-tu devenir le meilleur joueur ? – How are you going to become the best player?
  • Elle est à la faculté de droit car elle va devenir avocate – She’s at law school as she’s going to become a lawyer
  • Vous allez devenir amis avec vos nouveaux camarades de classe – You’re going to make friends with your new classmates

Devenir Conjugation Pluperfect Tense (le plus-que-parfait)

We can only use the pluperfect tense to talk about something that took place before another action or moment in the past. To form this tense, we must conjugate the verb être in the imperfect before using the past participle of the verb devenir, not forgetting the all-important verb agreement.

J’étais devenu·e

I had become

Tu étais devenu·e

You had become

Il/elle/on était devenu·e

He/she/it had become

Nous étions devenu·e·s

We had become

Vous étiez devenu·e·s

You had become (formal/plural)

Ils/elles étaient devenu·e·s

They had become

  • Quand elle a été réunie avec sa mère, la fille était déjà devenue une femme – When she was reunited with her mother, the girl had already become a woman
  • Nous étions devenus amis avant que je ne découvre qui il était vraiment – We had become friends prior to me finding out who really he was
  • Ils étaient devenus pauvres bien avant que la bourse ne s’effondre – They had become poor long before the stock market crashed

Devenir in the Conditional Mood (le conditionnel présent)

You may recognize the conditional verb endings as they are identical to the imperfect endings. The difference is that we must use the future stem which ends with an “r”, in this case that’s deviendr-. The conditional mood is self-explanatory: we use it to talk about something that would happen under particular conditions.

Je deviendrais

I would become

Tu deviendrais

You would become

Il/elle/on deviendrait

He/she/it would become

Nous deviendrions

We would become

Vous deviendriez

You would become (formal/plural)

Ils/elles deviendraient

They would become

  • S’il continuait à écouter de la musique aussi forte, il deviendrait sourd – If he continued listening to such loud music, he would go deaf
  • Si je n’avais pas besoin de travailler, je deviendrais bénévole auprès des enfants – If I didn’t need to work, I would become a volunteer with children
  • Que deviendrions-nous si nous perdions nos emplois ? – What would become of us if we lost our jobs?

Devenir Conjugation Subjunctive Mood (le Subjonctif Présent)

If the introductory verb expresses one of the following things, we must follow it with the subjunctive mood: Doubt and uncertainty, wishes and wants, obligations and orders, emotions and opinions, possibility and necessity. Don’t worry if the subjunctive seems difficult right now, it’s important to know what it is and start to familiarize yourself with it, but you can learn it in more depth later on as you progress.

que je devienne

that I become

que tu deviennes

that you become

qu’il/elle/on devienne

that he/she/it becomes

que nous devenions

that we become

que vous deveniez

that you become (formal/plural)

qu’ils/elles deviennent

that they become

  • Elle veut que tu deviennes enseignant – She wants you to become a teacher
  • Il faut que vous deveniez plus sérieux si vous voulez rejoindre l’armée – You must become more serious if you want to join the army
  • Ils sont contents qu’ils deviennent plus forts chaque jour – They are happy that they’re becoming stronger every day

Expressions that Use the Devenir Conjugation

The French language has a lot of idioms that use the devenir verb conjugation. Here are a few common expressions that use “devenir” in French, but don’t include “become” in their English equivalents.

1. Devenir chèvre – To get cross

Literal translation: To become goat

  • Si tu continues à faire des bêtises, tes parents vont devenir chèvre – If you keep being naughty, your parents will get cross

2. Devenir dur de la feuille – To go deaf

Literal translation: To become hard of the leaf

  • Il m’a fait répéter 4 fois, je pense qu’il devient dur de la feuille – He made me repeat it 4 times, I think he’s going deaf

3. Devenir marteau – To go crazy

Literal translation: To become hammer

  • Si je dois écouter cette chanson encore une fois, je vais devenir marteau – If I have to listen to that song one more time I’m going to go crazy

4. Devenir trop grand pour faire quelque chose – To grow out of something

Literal translation: To become too big to do something

  • Elle est devenue trop grande pour jouer avec des poupées, elle préfère faire des puzzles maintenant – She’s grown out of playing with dolls, she’d rather do jigsaws now

5. En devenirUp-and-coming / in the making

Literal translation: By to become

  • Vous devriez investir dans cette chanteuse en devenir, c’est une vedette en devenir ! – You should invest in this up-and-coming singer, she’s a star in the making!

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

Learning the devenir 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 devenir.

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