In most cases, the verb venir means “to come”. But as we’ll discover, a tiny preposition can change everything.
Come along as we take a look at how to conjugate venir, as well as its sometimes surprising meanings.
How to conjugate venir in its most commonly used tenses
Note that since venir is conjugated with être in compound tenses, you’ll have to make sure the participle agrees with the subject.
Less common conjugations of venir
These verb tenses aren’t as common in everyday spoken or written French, but they are useful to know – and in many cases, to use:
|tu étais venu(e)|
|il/elle/on était venu(e)|
|nous étions venu(e)s|
|vous étiez venu(e)(s)|
|ils/elles étaient venu(e)s|
|Passé simple||Passé antérieur|
|je vins||je fus venu(e)|
|tu vins||tu fus venu(e)|
|il/elle/on vint||il/elle/on fut venu(e)|
|nous vînmes||nous fûmes venu(e)s|
|vous vîntes||vous fûtes venu(e)(s)|
|ils/elles vinrent||ils/elles furent venu(e)s|
|Conditionnnel du passé|
|je serais venu(e)|
|tu serais venu(e)|
|il/elle/on serait venu(e)|
|nous serions venu(e)s|
|vous series venu(e)(s)|
|ils/elles seraient venu(e)s|
|Passé du subjonctif||Imparfait du subjonctif||Plus-que-parfait du subjonctif|
|je sois venu(e)||je vinsse||je fusse venu(e)|
|tu sois venu(e)||tu vinsses||tu fusses venu(e)|
|il/elle/on soit venu(e)||il/elle/on vînt||il/elle/on fût venu(e)|
|nous soyons venu(e)s||nous ayons vinssions||nous fussions venu(e)s|
|vous soyez venu(e)(s)||vous ayez vinssiez||vous fussiez venu(e)(s)|
|ils/elles soient venu(e)s||ils/elles vinssent||ils/elles fussent venu(e)s|
Other French verbs that are conjugated like venir
Venir is an irregular -ir verb. The good news is that it comes with friends.
As this article points out, if you know how to conjugate venir, you can conjugate just about any French verb that ends with venir, too!
At first, that may seem extremely specific, but there’s actually a good number of French verbs that end in “venir”.
When conjugating them, the only difference you might come across (besides their prefixes, of course) is that some are conjugated with être, just like venir, while others are conjugated with avoir.
As a general rule, you can tell which verb is used based on whether or not the action directly affects the subject. For instance, parvenir (to succeed in doing/manage to do something) or survenir (to happen) cause a change in the subject of the sentence. But a verb like prévenir (to warn/notify in advance) is more focused on the change that would happen to the object.
If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry – you can just memorize the few venir verbs that are conjugated with avoir instead of être.
Here’s the list of French verbs ending in “venir”:
advenir: to happen.
circonvenir: to circumvent, get around. (Conjugated with avoir.)
contrevenir: to contravene.
convenir: to be convenient/suitable. Example: Demain soir à 20h, ça vous convient ? (Is tomorrow evening at 8pm convenient?/Would tomorrow evening at 8pm work for you?)
devenir: to become. Example : Tout d’un coup, le prince est devenu une bête. (All of a sudden, the prince became a beast.)
intervenir: to intervene.
parvenir: to succeed in doing/manage to do something. Example: Elle pensait ne jamais arriver à lire un livre en français, mais elle y est parvenue ! (She thought she would never be able to read a book in French, but she succeeded!)
prévenir: to warn. (Conjugated with avoir). Example: Claude vient d’apprendre que sa copine le trompe avec son cousin. Et pourtant, je l’avais prévenu! (Claude just found out that his girlfriend is cheating on him with his cousin. I warned him, though!)
provenir: to come from, be due to.
revenir: to come back/to return.
subvenir: to provide for/financially support. (Conjugated with avoir.)
You’ll usually see subvenir followed by à or aux and besoins (needs). For instance: Avant de devenir parents, ils voulaient être surs de pouvoir subvenir aux besoins d’un enfant. (Before becoming parents, they wanted to be sure that they could provide for a child.) Or Je peux subvenir à mes propres besoins. (I can provide for myself/financially support myself).
survenir: to occur, take place. You’ll sometimes see this French internet error message: Une erreur est survenue. (An error has occurred.)
se souvenir (de): to remember
What does venir mean?
Aside from a few rare uses, venir means “to come”.
(An R-Rated aside: If we’re talking about “to come” in a sexual context, that’s usually used with the verb jouir. If you want to learn more about how a French person might talk about this while it’s happening, this WordReference thread provides some really insightful answers.)
Since venir usually means “to come”, it stands to reason that you can just tack on a preposition to indicate an origin, destination, etc. Most of the time, that’s true. But two prepositions can change the meaning of venir in a significant way.
These two prepositions are de and à.
Sometimes venir de or venir à mean exactly what you’d expect. It’s all depends on whether or not they’re followed by a verb.
As you may already know from your French classes or lessons, venir de means “to come from” -for instance, Je viens de Paris. (I come from Paris./I’m from Paris.) or Il vient d’un milieu ouvrier. (He comes from a working class background.).
But if you see venir de followed by a verb, then it means “have just” (or “just” for US English speakers).
For example: Je viens de nettoyer la cuisine. (I’ve just cleaned the kitchen/I just cleaned the kitchen.)
Note that the verb is always in the infinitive.
You can also use venir de + infinitive verb with other tenses. For example:
Elle venait de mettre la tarte près de la fenêtre lorsqu’un renard l’a volée ! (She had just put the pie near the window when a fox stole it!)
Normalement nous aurons tout juste fini à la plage quand vous arriverez. (We should just be finishing up at the beach when you arrive.)
Note that you can add words to venir de for emphasis. For instance, Je venais tout juste de mettre mon pantalon quand quelqu’un a sonné à la porte. (I had just (barely) finished putting on my pants when the doorbell rang.)
Venir à can mean, simply, “to come to”. For instance, J’espère que tu viendras au cinéma avec nous demain soir. (I hope you’ll come to the movies with us tomorrow night.)
But if it’s followed by a verb (in the infinitive), it can mean “to come to” in a different way -basically, to get to a certain point (in other words, “eventually”).
For instance, Si les écoles venaient à refermer, il y aurait peut-être des émeutes. (If the schools did happen to close again, there might be riots.)
Unlike venir de + infinitive verb, venir à + infinitive verb is used more rarely, and there are many other ways to express this idea. So if you find the structure weird, don’t worry too much about using it – but be aware of it in case you come across it somewhere.
On the other hand, venir de + an infinitive verb is used fairly often.
Common phrases and expressions with venir
In addition to venir de and venir à, there are several other common venir phrases and expressions you’ll come across. These include:
y venir – to be getting to that. Ex: Tu voudrais savoir utiliser ta baguette magique, et bien, on y vient ! (You’d like to know how to use your magic wand? Well, we’re getting to that!)
à venir – coming/coming soon.
faire venir – to make someone or something come to you/to fetch/to get.
en venir aux mains – to come to blows. Ex: Les supporters des deux équipes en sont venus aux mains. (The fans of the two teams came to blows.)
venir à bout de – to come to the end of a challenge/to overcome.
venir à l’esprit (de) – to come to mind. Ex: J’essaie de penser à un seul instance quand il a été gentil avec moi, mais rien ne me vient à l’esprit. (I’m trying to think of a single time when he was nice to me, but nothing comes to mind.).
venir à la rescousse (de) – to come to the rescue (of).
venir au monde – to come into the world/to be born. Note that this can be a euphemistic way to express the birth of a living thing, but it can also be used to talk about the birth of an idea, invention, etc.
venir chercher – to come pick up someone. Ex: Augustin, ta mère est venue te chercher ! (Augustin, your mother’s come to pick you up!).
voir venir – to see something coming.
ne rien voir venir – to not see something coming. Ex: Pauvre Louise ! Son mari l’a quittée. Elle n’a rien vu venir. (Poor Louise! Her husband left her. She didn’t see it coming.)
venir nombreux – come one, come all/come in large numbers. You’ll often see this in the imperative form, as in invitation to a big event, like a concert, circus, etc.: Venez nombreux !
L’appétit vient en mangeant – the more you do, the more you want to do. (Literally: Appetite comes with eating.)
Le meilleur reste à venir – The best is yet to come.
le va-et-vient – comings and goings/rush/hustle-bustle. Ex: J’aime le va-et-vient d’une ville. (I like the hustle-bustle of a city.)
Bienvenue – Welcome.
Now that you know all about venir, you may have realized that its participle, venu, is part of a French word you probably already knew. Just a quick note about agreement, because I know it confuses me – and apparently, it’s also confusing to some Francophones: When used as a general greeting, Bienvenue takes on an “e” and isn’t pluralized, regardless of who you’re talking to.
But if you’re using it as an adjective or noun, you need to agree it with the subject. For example, Soyez les bienvenus/des vacances bienvenues (a welcome vacation).
If you’ve come to a conclusion about venir, I hope it’s that it’s a pretty easy verb to use, despite a few surprises. But if you feel like you’re still not totally comfortable with using or conjugating it, don’t worry. With practice, ça va venir (it will come to you).