Finir means “to finish” or “to end” in French. This makes it a useful and common verb, with some useful and common derivatives as well.
Let’s take a look at finir – it’s bound to end well!
Finir is a regular -ir verb and is conjugated with avoir in compound tenses.
Here’s how to conjugate finir in its most commonly used tenses:
|Present simple||Passé Composé||Passé Imparfait|
|je finis||j’ai fini||je finissais|
|tu finis||tu as fini||tu finissais|
|il/elle/on finit||il/elle/on a fini||il/elle/on finissait|
|nous finissons||nous avons fini||nous finissions|
|vous finissez||vous avez fini||vous finissiez|
|ils/elles finissent||ils/elles ont fini||ils/elles finissaient|
|je finirai||je finirais||que je finisse|
|tu finiras||tu finirais||que tu finisses|
|il/elle/on finira||il/elle/on finirait||qu’ il/elle/on finisse|
|nous finirons||nous finirions||que nous finissions|
|vous finirez||vous finiriez||que vous finissiez|
|ils/elles finiront||ils/elles finiraient||qu’ils/elles finissent|
What does finir mean?
Finir means “to finish” or “to end”. Like its English equivalents, finir has several shades of meaning. Fortunately, they’re more or less the same ones that you find with “finish” or “end.”
For example, you can finish doing something; something (a meeting, a movie, etc.) can finish; you can finish eating or drinking something; you can end up somewhere or doing something.
With that in mind, here are some examples of how you might commonly see finir used:
Paul a fini de tondre le gazon, maintenant il a envie de se reposer un peu. (Paul finished mowing the lawn, now he wants to rest a little.)
Le concert finira vers 15h. (The concert will finish/end around 3pm).
J’ai fini le livre. C’était vraiment bien écrit. (I finished the book. It was really well-written.)
Il a commencé par de petites bêtises, mais il a fini en prison. (He started with harmless mischievous acts, but he ended up in prison.)
Here’s something I say to my son just about every evening: Finis tes devoirs ! (Finish your homework!)
As you can see from the first example, when you’re using another verb with finir to explain that someone has finished doing something, you keep this second verb in its infinitive form and put the preposition de in front of it.
For instance: Nous avons fini de faire nos courses, maintenant nous allons déjeuner. (We’ve finished running our errands, now we’re going to eat lunch.)
Note that sometimes finir de + verb infinitive can be more precisely translated as “done”. For example:
Elle a fini de pleurer. Maintenant, elle va prendre sa revanche ! (She’s done crying. Now she’ll get her revenge !)
Two common derivatives of finir
There are a number of derivatives of the verb finir. Here are the two most common.
(la) fin – end or ending
Fin is one of those French words that many people are familiar with, even if they don’t speak French. That’s because some French films end with a “Fin” title card, the same as some English films use “The End”. Putting Fin at the end of a movie has become so popular that it’s even used by non-Francophone filmmakers at times, either seriously or to give a teasing sense of prestige to something funny. Unlike “The End,” in this context, Fin is written without an article.
La fin in general can also mean the end or ending of anything. For instance:
Ils sont tristes parce que c’est la fin des vacances. (They’re sad because it’s the end of vacation.)
J’aime cette histoire, mais c’est triste à la fin. (I like this story, but it’s got a sad ending.)
Ça semblait être une journée sans fin. (The day felt like it would never end.)
Be careful not to confuse this meaning of fin with another: thin. Luckily, the fact that one is a noun and the other is an adjective, as well as context, makes this confusion very unlikely!
fini(e) – finished, over
As in English, this can be used to talk about anything from an event, to a meal, to a relationship.
C’est fini entre nous. (It’s over between us.)
Le spectacle est fini, la prochaine séance aura lieu demain à midi. (The play is over, the next showing is at noon tomorrow.)
Sometimes, fini can be used on its own, at the start of a sentence or statement. You’ll often come upon this in commercials, especially oral, non-print ones. For instance:
Fini vos troubles de sommeil, grâce à notre machine à bruit blanc ! OR Grâce à notre machine à bruit blanc, fini vos troubles de sommeil ! (Your insomnia is over, thanks to our white noise machine! OR Thanks to our white noise machine, your insomnia is over!)
Fini can also mean ‘finished’ in the sense of polished or finalized.
For instance, Son travail est bien fini. (Her work is well finished/well done/polished.)
You can have a look at this webpage for some additional, less common meanings of fini.
Phrases and expressions with finir
There are a few common phrases and expressions with finir in French. Here are the ones you’ll come across most often .
Tout est bien qui finit bien. – All’s well that ends well. Yes, the French know Shakespeare (although this phrase was around before the Bard.)
finir par – to end up/to finally. Example: Nous étions si fatigués que nous avons fini par dormir sur place. (We were so tired that we ended up staying and sleeping there.)
Ça va mal finir. – This/That won’t end well. Ex: Tu as laissé ton chiot jouer avec ta collection de chaussures de marque ? Ça va mal finir. (You let your puppy play with your designer shoe collection? This won’t end well.)
finir en beauté – to end something gracefully/to end on a high note. Ex: J’aurais aimé que la série <<Buffy contre les vampires>> continue, mais au moins elle a fini en beauté. (I would have liked for the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer to continue, but at least it ended on a high note.)
à n’en plus finir – never-ending/endless. Ex : Dans son rêve, une cascade de chocolat coulait à n’en plus finir. (In his dream, a chocolate waterfall flowed endlessly.)
en fin de compte – when all’s said and done/at the end of the day. Ex: En fin de compte, il est assez facile d’utiliser le verbe finir. (When all’s said and done, it’s pretty easy to use the verb finir.)
I hope this article has helped you get to know the verb finir. Et maintenant, c’est fini! (And now, it’s finished!)