I’m going to die in 2028

Montaigne2291wl
Michel de Montaigne, 16th-century French philosopher and essayist. We call him Eyquem around the office. Picture source: http://hua.umf.maine.edu/Reading_Revolutions/MontaigneT.html.

I’m going to die in 2028.  I calculated this by starting with my year of birth, adding the median of my father’s and paternal grandfather’s ages at the time of their first heart attacks, subtracting a bit for my smoking as a teenaged problem child, adding a bit for my maternal grandfather’s long life despite his smoking (a friend of my mother’s once described my grandfather’s apartment to me as “nothing but books and cigarette smoke”), subtracting a bit for the deleterious effects of years of high cortisol production due to years of incredible stress (I have my own problem child), and adding a bit for the salutary effects of ten years of intensive study of the incredibly physically demanding sport of judo.  2028 works out great for me–I can retire and spend a couple years sitting around reading, and then croak right about the time that my paltry retirement savings run out.

The verb mourir, “to die,” turns out to be quite irregular in French, and since we’ve been working our way through irregular verbs, il serait séant q’on l’étudiât.  (That’s a little French morphosyntax joke.  A double joke, actually, since séant means both the very literary “fitting, seemly” and “backside, behind”–roughly fesses, if you’re French.)  As far as I can tell, some verbs have similar conjugations, but no other French verb is conjugated quite the same as mourir.  Let’s tour the various and sundry tenses and aspects.

Present indicative

Mourir has a vowel change in the present tense that is almost all its own–the only similar verb that I can think of is émouvoir. But, émouvoir is quite different even in this tense, as the third person plural form (ils/elles) has the root-final consonant of the other plurals, rather than the (lack of a) root-final consonant in the singulars, which is how mourir works.

je meurs nous mourons
tu meurs vous
on meurt ils/elles mourez

 Imperfect indicative

As far as I know, even irregular verbs are all regular in the imparfait, or imperfect indicative.

je mourais nous mourions
tu mourais vous mouriez
on mourait ils/elles mouraient

Passé simple (past historic)

Mourir is irregular in its own special way in the passé simple.  It takes the same endings as a set of irregular verbs that have past participles that end with u, but its past participle does not end with u.  (It’s mort(e).)  (See Laura Lawless’s page on the passé simple on About.com for the full set.)

je mourus nous mourûmes
tu mourus vous mourûtes
on mourut ils/elles moururent

Passé composé (compound past)

Of course, mourir has to be different and make the compound past with être, rather than as most verbs do, with avoir:

je suis mort nous sommes morts
t’es mort vous êtes morts
on est mort ils sont morts

Futur simple (future indicative)

This is one of those double-rr-in-the-future-tense verbs that we ran into in a recent post on irregular future-tense verbs.

je mourrai nous mourrons
tu mourras vous mourrez
on mourra ils/elles mourront

Present subjunctive

Mourir has the same unusual root vowel change in the present subjunctive as it has in the present indicative.

je meure nous mourions
tu meures vous mouriez
on meure ils/elles meurent

Imparfait du subjonctif (imperfect subjunctive)

Mourir is irregular in the imperfect subjunctive in the same way that it’s irregular in the passé simple, which is to say that it has a u in the stem

je mourusse nous mourussions
tu mourusses vous mourussiez
on mourût ils/elles mourussent

Participles

There are only three French verbs that have irregular present participles, and amazingly, mourir isn’t one of them.  The past participle is irregular, though–it doesn’t end with the i that a regular -ir verb would end with, but rather with a t(e) (depending on whether we’re talking about something grammatically male or grammatically female):

present: mourant paste: mort

Imperatives

Weird stem vowel change, once again:

mourons!
meurs! mourez!

I believe it was the famous French philosopher and essayist Montaigne who said that “to learn to philosophize is to learn how to die.” (An interesting contrast with my peeps at the café philo who felt that the point of philosophy is to learn how to live.)  Any way you slice it, if you’re going to die (and at some point you are), now you know how to talk about it in French.

6 thoughts on “I’m going to die in 2028”

  1. Sh.. man ! If you want to show off your subjuncive imperfect please do conjugate it rightly ! The pronoun “on” is always conjugated like il/elle . Therefore, “il serait séant qu’on l’étudiât” .
    And séant is a highly literary form to say backside .

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s