You may already know the French verb Venir, which means “to come”. But, have you encountered its trickier neighbour, “Venir de”? We’ll explore its different meanings in today’s lesson, and I’ll show you how to use it in everyday French conversation.
In the comments for a previous lesson, a long-time viewer asked me to talk about “Venir de”. This construction (with the irregular verb Venir) has two different meanings – both of which are very effective in helping you improve your oral comprehension.
Once you learn how to use this verb, it will come up very often in everyday conversation. And you’ll free yourself from the tyranny of the French passé composé.
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1. Venir de = coming from
- Venir = “to come”
- Venir de (+ location) = “to come from” [that location]
You can use it to describe where you’re from, or where you’ve just been. The meaning of “location” here is quite large.
- Je viens des États-Unis. = I come from the US. → You probably know that sentence already, with your own country!
- Je viens de Grenoble. = I come from Grenoble.
- Je viens de la cuisine. = I come from the kitchen.
- Je viens de chez le coiffeur. = I come from the hairdresser.
- Je viens de loin. = I come from far away. → “On revient de loin” (= to come back from far behind) also means “making a spectacular recovery.”
(As you can see, in the present, “I come / I’m coming” is “Je viens.” Venir is irregular, as we’ll explore below.)
2. Venir de = Just did something
“Venir de” also means something else entirely:
“Je viens de [+ verbe]” = “I’ve just [done something].”
You can use it to talk about the immediate past in French. It’s like a whole new tense – and much easier than the other past tenses in French.
- Je viens de voir ton message ! = I’ve just seen your message!
- Je viens de me faire couper les cheveux. = I’ve just had my hair cut.
- Mais tu viens de manger ! = But you just ate!
- Tu viens de rater tes parents, ils viennent de passer à la télé ! = You just missed your parents, they were on TV a minute ago!
Did you notice? Venir is an irregular verb.
3. Conjugation of Venir in the present (and the imperative)
The conjugation for the three singular subjects all sound the same, when spoken (the final “s” and “t” are silent.)
You can often find this verb in the imperative too:
- Viens ! (for “tu”)
- Venons ! (for “nous” – rarely used)
- Venez ! (for “vous”)
** Le truc en plus **
Ils viennent sounds like:
– Vienne, the capital of Austria
– La Vienne, a river and a department in France
– The subjunctive of Venir also sounds like [vienne] for “ils” and the singular subjects.
“Je viens de par là !” → “I come from that way.”
“Tu viens de prendre une douche !” → “You’ve just taken a shower!”
“I come from the bakery.” → Je viens de la boulangerie.
“I just bought some bread.” → Je viens d’acheter du pain.
Learn more about venir, its close (but not quite 100% synonym) friend arriver (= to arrive), and more French grammar tricks with:
- Arriver vs Venir : French Verb Usage & Differences
- How to use “S’en aller” – “Je m’en vais” etc.
- “Je vais” – Le Futur Proche
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