Skip to content

The 3 Forms of Penser – So many ways “To Think”

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to the weekend!

This week I want to talk about the French verb penser and the 3 ways in which it can be used. To the untrained eye they can be appear quite similar but it’s important to choose the right one to get across what you’re trying to communicate.

Let’s get into it!

Penser + infinitive

For example: “Je pense aller au ciné ce soir” or “Il pense apprendre l’espagnol en 2017”.

This form means to “think about doing something”. In the examples above: “I’m thinking about going to the the cinema tonight” and “He’s thinking about learning Spanish in 2017”.

It’s really easy to remember and it’s not the same as in English so I like to use it. When I do I feel closer to being a native!

Note: If you’re using it with aller as in the first example and the destination has already been mentioned then you need the pronoun y. Example: “Est-ce que tu pars en vacances en France l’an prochain ? Je pense y aller aussi.”

Penser + à + noun

For example: “Je pense à toi” or “Elle pense à la dernière fois”.

This form means to “think of/about someone/something”. In the examples above: “I’m thinking of you” (as in “you’re in my thoughts”) and “She’s thinking about the last time”.

Note: As I detailed in my 3rd Language Challenge, since penser à introduces a noun, that noun is replaced by the y pronoun when talking about something that is understood by everyone involved. Y can not replace a person. Use the example in the first form when thinking of a person.

Penser + de + noun

For example: “Qu’est-ce que tu penses des feux d’artifices ?” or “Tu sais ce que je pense de la politique.”.

This form means to “think about/have an opinion about something/someone”. In the examples above: “What do you think about the fireworks?” and “You know what I think of politics”.

You don’t begin giving your opinion about something/someone with “Je pense de”. The noun has usually already been mentioned so it gets replaced by the en pronoun. Using the first example sentence, a response would be: “J’en pense qu’ils sont très beaux”. We can do the same with the second example to replace la politique: “Tu sais ce que j’en pense.”.

It’s a little strange that this form is penser de but you wouldn’t give your opinion by conjugating penser with de but just like it English the French give their opinion by saying “Je pense que + noun”. In English we say “I think that it’s…”. So, not that different!


I hope this has helped some of you! Let me know if it has or hasn’t in the comments below!

See you next week.

Published inFrenchFrench FridayLanguage Learning