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Put On Your Thinking Cap: A Guide to the French “Mettre” Conjugation

Mettre may look like a simple verb with an “re” ending, but it’s actually a tricky irregular verb. Knowing the mettre conjugation enables you to use other verbs that end in this word such as admettre, promettre and permettre. There are almost twenty different ways in which this verb can be used, but some are more frequently used than others. We’re going to focus on the key uses and the essential tenses of this vital verb.

When to Use the Mettre Conjugation

1. To deliberately put something somewhere

  • Je mets mon livre sur la table – I put my book on the table

2. To spill something on a surface or fabric

  • Tu mets des miettes de partout – You’re getting crumbs everywhere

3. To attach or secure something to something else

  • Mets ta ceinture – Put your seatbelt on

4. To put on or wear an item of clothing, object or product

  • Il met des gants en hiver – He wears gloves in winter

5. To seat somebody/something in a certain place

  • Il m’a mis entre mes parents – He put me between my parents

6. To enlist or enroll someone in something

  • Elle met sa fille en école de musique – She’s sending her daughter to music school

7. To put money somewhere, to save or spend

  • Je mets mon argent dans un livret d’épargne – I put my money in a savings account

8. To say how long something takes

  • Je mets 30 minutes pour aller au travail – It takes me 30 minutes to get to work

9. To turn on an electrical device (shortening of “mettre en marche”)

  • Tu mets la télé tous les jours – You turn on the TV every day

Mettre Conjugation in the Present Tense (le présent)

Je mets

I put

Tu mets

You put

Il/elle met

He/she/it puts

Nous mettons

We put

Vous mettez

You put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles mettent

They put

  • Mets une bûche dans la cheminée, il commence à faire froid – Put a log in the fireplace, it’s getting cold
  • Nous mettons notre épargne en Bourse – We put our savings into the stock market
  • Ils ne mettent jamais le bon uniforme – They never wear the right uniform

Mettre Conjugation in the Imperfect Tense (l’imparfait)

Je mettais

I used to put

Tu mettais

You used to put

Il/elle mettait

He/she/it used to put

Nous mettions

We used to put

Vous mettiez

You used to put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles mettaient

They used to put

You may now be familiar with the imperfect tense, used to talk about regular occurrences or habits that you no longer have. This tense always has the same endings, no matter whether it’s a regular or irregular verb.

  • Il mettait un short toute l’année, qu’il pleuve ou qu’il vente – He used to wear shorts all year, come rain or shine (literally: come rain or wind)
  • Vous mettiez des heures pour vous préparer, surtout pour un rancard – You used to take hours to get ready, especially for a date
  • Elles mettaient les plus jolies fleurs dans des vases – They used to put the prettiest flowers in vases

Mettre Conjugation in the Past Tense (le passé composé)

J’ai mis

I put

Tu as mis

You put

Il/elle a mis

He/she/it put

Nous avons mis

We put

Vous avez mis

You put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles ont mis

They put

The passé composé, used to talk about past tense actions that have come to an end, takes the conjugated verb “avoir” and adds the past participle of another verb, which in this case is “mis”.

  • Elle a mis des tongs pour faire une randonnée – She wore flip-flops to go on a hike
  • Nous avons mis tous les enfants sur une table ensemble pour ne pas embêter leurs parents – We put all of the children at a table together so as not to bother their parents
  • Mon père a mis mon diplôme dans un cadre sur le mur – My father put my diploma in a frame on the wall

Mettre Conjugation in the Simple Future (le futur simple)

Je mettrai

I will put

Tu mettras

You will put

Il/elle mettra

He/she/it will put

Nous mettrons

We will put

Vous mettrez

You will put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles mettront

They will put

To use the simple future tense, all verbs take the same future endings, as shown in the table above. This tense is used to talk about the distant future.

  • Je mettrai 100 euros sur le cheval avec le nom le plus rigolo – I’ll put 100 euros on the horse with the funniest name
  • Ils mettront leurs chaussures avant d’aller dehors – They will put their shoes on before going outside
  • Tu mettras six heures pour aller à Paris – It’ll take you 6 hours to get to Paris

Mettre Conjugation in the Near Future (le futur proche)

Je vais mettre

I’m going to put

Tu vas mettre

You’re going to put

Il/elle va mettre

He/she/it is going to put

Nous allons mettre

We’re going to put

Vous allez mettre

You’re going to put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles vont mettre

They’re going to put

The near future tense pairs the verb “aller” with the verb “mettre” to express plans and future arrangements.

  • Nous allons mettre notre fils dans un lycée privé – We’re going to send our son to a private high school
  • Vas-tu mettre tes bagages en soute ? – Are you going to put your luggage in the hold?
  • Elle va mettre son argent de poche dans des nouveaux matériaux de dessin – She’s going to put her allowance into new drawing materials

Mettre Conjugation in the Past Perfect (le plus-que-parfait)

J’avais mis

I had put

Tu avais mis

You had put

Il/elle avait mis

He/she/it had put

Nous avions mis

We had put

Vous aviez mis

You had put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles avaient mis

They had put

If you put something down before you left the house, or tried to be like Superman and put your underwear on after putting on your clothes, then you need to use the plus-que-parfait tense to express an action completed before another past action.

  • Vous aviez mis le gateau au four avant d’aller prendre une douche – You put the cake in the oven before going to take a shower
  • Elle avait mis 20 euros au loto quand elle a gagné 1000 – She had put 20 euros on the lottery when she won 1000
  • Si tu avais mis les clés dans ton sac tu ne les aurais pas perdues – If you had put the keys in your bag then you wouldn’t have lost them

Mettre Conjugation in the Present Conditional Tense

Je mettrais

I would put

Tu mettrais

You would put

Il/elle mettrait

He/she/it would put

Nous mettrions

We would put

Vous mettriez

You would put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles mettraient

They would put

  • Je ne mettrais jamais une robe multicolore – I would never wear a multicolored dress
  • Elle mettrait toutes ses affaires à la poubelle si c’était son choix – She would put all of his things in the trash if it was her choice
  • Nous mettrions la télévision si elle fonctionnait – We would put the TV on if it worked

Mettre in the Past Conditional

J’aurais mis

I would have put

Tu aurais mis

You would have put

Il/elle aurait mis

He/she/it would have put

Nous aurions mis

We would have put

Vous auriez mis

You would have put (formal/plural)

Ils/elles auraient mis

They would have put

The past conditional is ideal for expressing regret and things you would have done if you had the chance or the possibility. It’s often paired with a verb in another past tense.

  • Si tu avais vu que ta sœur était là, tu aurais mis la table pour 5 – If you had seen that your sister was here, you would have set the table for 5 (literally: put the table)
  • J’aurais mis plus d’argent de côté si j’avais su que c’était aussi cher – I’d have put more money aside if I’d have known it was so expensive
  • S’ils pouvaient garder leurs enfants à la maison ils ne les auraient pas mis à la crèche – If they were able to to take care of their children at home, they wouldn’t have put them in day care

Mettre in the Imperative (l’imperatif)

The imperative is used to give orders, but can also be used for hints and suggestions too. Subject pronouns are not used with the imperative so you must directly use the verb conjugated in the second person singular and first and second person plural (mets, mettons, mettez).

  • Mets la radio, le discours va commencer – Put the radio on, the speech is about to start
  • Mettez vos chaussures, c’est l’heure de partir – Put your shoes on, it’s time to leave
  • Mettons de la musique – Let’s put some music on


There are literally hundreds of different expressions using the verb “mettre”. Some of them keep the literal meaning of “put”, while others are figurative and shouldn’t be translated literally. Here are 10 of the best, or most unusual, expressions that use the mettre conjugation.

1. Mettre toutes ses forces – To give it your all

Literal translation: To put all of one’s strength

  • Il a mis toutes ses forces mais il n’a pas gagné la médaille d’or – He gave it his all but he didn’t win the gold medal

2. Mettre à jour – To update

Literal translation: To put to day

  • Je vais mettre le logiciel à jour pour voir les nouveaux changements – I’m going to update the software to see the new changes

3. Mettre en valeur – To highlight, accentuate, bring out features

Literal translation: To put in value

  • Son maquillage mets en valeur ses yeux bleus – Her makeup brings out her blue eyes

4. Mettre quelque chose au frais – To store in a cool place, refrigerate

Literal translation: To put something in the cool

  • Il faut mettre la sauce au frais avant de la servir – You must refrigerate the sauce before serving it

5. Mettre quelqu’un au frais – Slang for “imprison someone”

Literal translation: To put someone in the cool

  • Ils veulent tous me mettre au frais mais je n’ai rien fait – They all want to lock me up but I didn’t do anything

6. Mettre les choses à plat – To get things straight / Straighten things out

Literal translation: To put things flat

  • Nous devons mettre les choses à plat entre nous avant de rencontrer le client – We must get things straight between us before we meet the client

7. En mettre partout – To get it everywhere / to make a mess

Literal translation: To put it everywhere

  • Si tu peins avec tes mains tu vas en mettre partout ! – If you paint with your hands, you’re going to get it everywhere!

8. Mettre à la disposition – Provide or make something available (to someone)

Literal translation: To put at your disposal

  • Je mets des fournitures scolaires à la disposition de mes élèves – I provide school supplies for my students

9. Mettre à la porte / mettre à la rue – Throw somebody out, kick somebody out or fire somebody

Literal translation: Put at the door, put in the street

  • Elle a mis son mari à la porte après 20 ans de mariage – She kicked her husband out after 20 years of marriage

10. Mettre l’accent sur – Emphasize

Literal translation: Put the accent on

  • L’école mets l’accent sur l’importance des langues etrangères – The school emphasizes the importance of foreign languages

The mettre conjugation is one that will help you more than you realize. The verb mettre appears at the end of a plethora of other verbs such as admettre (to admit), promettre (to promise), permettre (to allow), commettre (to commit), emettre (to emit), transmettre (to transmit) among many more.

These verbs all follow the same rules that we have learned in this article. This means that once you’ve learned the verb endings and conjugations for the verb “mettre”, you will be able to confidently use many other verbs too.

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