Conjugation of the French Verb “Tenir”

The French language boasts a wide array of verbs, each with its own unique conjugation pattern. One such verb is “tenir,” which means “to hold” or “to keep.” In this article, we will delve into the conjugation of the verb “tenir” in various tenses and moods, shedding light on how to use it correctly in different contexts.


Present Tense (Présent)

In the present tense, “tenir” conjugates as follows:

– Je tiens (I hold)
– Tu tiens (You hold)
– Il/elle/on tient (He/she/one holds)
– Nous tenons (We hold)
– Vous tenez (You hold)
– Ils/elles tiennent (They hold)


Past Tenses


1. Imperfect Tense (Imparfait)

In the imperfect tense, “tenir” is conjugated as:

– Je tenais (I was holding)
– Tu tenais (You were holding)
– Il/elle/on tenait (He/she/one was holding)
– Nous tenions (We were holding)
– Vous teniez (You were holding)
– Ils/elles tenaient (They were holding)


2. Simple Past (Passé Simple)

The simple past tense of “tenir” is less commonly used in contemporary French but is still found in literature. Its conjugation is as follows:

– Je tins (I held)
– Tu tins (You held)
– Il/elle/on tint (He/she/one held)
– Nous tînmes (We held)
– Vous tîntes (You held)
– Ils/elles tinrent (They held)


3. Past Perfect (Plus-que-parfait)

To express actions that occurred before another past action, you can use the past perfect tense of “tenir.” It is formed as follows:

– J’avais tenu (I had held)
– Tu avais tenu (You had held)
– Il/elle/on avait tenu (He/she/one had held)
– Nous avions tenu (We had held)
– Vous aviez tenu (You had held)
– Ils/elles avaient tenu (They had held)


Future Tenses


1. Near Future (Futur Proche)

The near future tense is used to indicate actions that will happen soon. To conjugate “tenir” in this tense, use the verb “aller” (to go) as an auxiliary verb:

– Je vais tenir (I am going to hold)
– Tu vas tenir (You are going to hold)
– Il/elle/on va tenir (He/she/one is going to hold)
– Nous allons tenir (We are going to hold)
– Vous allez tenir (You are going to hold)
– Ils/elles vont tenir (They are going to hold)


2. Simple Future (Futur Simple)

In the simple future tense, “tenir” is conjugated as follows:

– Je tiendrai (I will hold)
– Tu tiendras (You will hold)
– Il/elle/on tiendra (He/she/one will hold)
– Nous tiendrons (We will hold)
– Vous tiendrez (You will hold)
– Ils/elles tiendront (They will hold)


Conditional Mood (Conditionnel)

The conditional mood is used to express hypothetical situations or polite requests. To conjugate “tenir” in the conditional mood, use the following forms:

– Je tiendrais (I would hold)
– Tu tiendrais (You would hold)
– Il/elle/on tiendrait (He/she/one would hold)
– Nous tiendrions (We would hold)
– Vous tiendriez (You would hold)
– Ils/elles tiendraient (They would hold)


10 example sentences with the word “tenir”

Here are 10 example sentences with the word “tenir” in different grammatical tenses:

  1. Je tiens un livre. (I am holding a book.) – Present Tense
  2. Tu tenais la porte ouverte. (You were holding the door open.) – Imperfect Tense
  3. Il tiendra sa promesse. (He will keep his promise.) – Simple Future
  4. Nous tenons fermement nos convictions. (We hold our beliefs firmly.) – Present Tense
  5. Vous avez tenu votre engagement. (You kept your commitment.) – Past Perfect
  6. Elles tiendraient le record si elles s’entraînaient davantage. (They would hold the record if they trained more.) – Conditional Mood
  7. J’ai tenu ce secret pendant des années. (I kept this secret for years.) – Past Perfect
  8. Nous tiendrons une réunion demain. (We will hold a meeting tomorrow.) – Simple Future
  9. Elle tenait un bouquet de fleurs. (She was holding a bouquet of flowers.) – Imperfect Tense
  10. Ils tiennent toujours leurs promesses. (They always keep their promises.) – Present Tense



Understanding the conjugation of the verb “tenir” is essential for effective communication in French. By mastering its various forms in different tenses and moods, you can confidently use this versatile verb to express a wide range of actions and ideas in the French language. Whether you’re holding something physically or figuratively, “tenir” will serve you well in your French language journey.