Exploring 'Courir': How to Discuss Running in French

May 15th, 2023 - Vera

Running is a universal experience, and every language has its way of expressing it. In French, the verb ‘courir’ is used to denote this activity. However, like many French verbs, ‘courir’ offers more than meets the eye, extending beyond its primary meaning to depict a range of related actions and concepts. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of ‘courir’, its conjugation, usage, and role in common expressions, equipping you with the tools to discuss running and more in French.

Understanding ‘Courir’

The verb ‘courir’ translates to ‘to run’ in English. It belongs to the third group of French verbs, meaning it’s irregular and does not follow a fixed conjugation pattern. Here’s how ‘courir’ is conjugated in the present tense:

The past participle of ‘courir’ is ‘couru’, used with the auxiliary verb ‘avoir’ to form compound tenses like the passé composé. For example, ‘j’ai couru’ means ‘I have run’ or ‘I ran’.

Basic Usage of ‘Courir’

The most direct application of ‘courir’ is to express the act of running:

‘Courir’ can also denote running in a metaphorical sense, such as running a business:

‘Courir’ in Different Tenses

The irregular nature of ‘courir’ means its conjugation in different tenses is not always predictable. Here are the conjugations for the most commonly used tenses:

Advanced Uses of ‘Courir’

‘Courir’ isn’t confined to the literal and metaphorical act of running. It also extends to other related actions and concepts:

  1. Pursuing or chasing: ‘Courir après’ can mean ‘to chase after’ or ‘to pursue’. For instance, ‘Il court après son rêve’ means ‘He is chasing his dream’.

  2. Risking or courting: ‘Courir le risque de’ translates to ‘to run the risk of’. For example, ‘Nous courons le risque de perdre tout notre argent’ means ‘We run the risk of losing all our money’.

  3. Hastening or rushing: ‘Courir’ can also mean ‘to rush’ or ‘to hurry’. For example, ‘Je dois courir pour attraper le bus’ translates to ‘I have to rush to catch the bus.’

Common Expressions with ‘Courir’

In addition to its various meanings, ‘courir’ is also used in several idiomatic expressions:

Mastering ‘Courir’

To fully grasp ‘courir’ and its nuances, consider these strategies:

  1. Regular Practice: Consistent practice is crucial to mastering any verb, especially irregular ones like ‘courir’. Aim to use ‘courir’ in sentences daily, focusing on different tenses and contexts.

  2. Contextual Usage: Make an effort to use ‘courir’ in as many real-life situations as possible. The more you use ‘courir’ in context, the more natural it will become.

  3. Learn Expressions: Familiarize yourself with common expressions that use ‘courir’. These phrases will not only enhance your French vocabulary but also provide a deeper understanding of how ‘courir’ is used in everyday conversation.

  4. Engage with French Media: Engaging with French media, such as books, movies, and music, can offer valuable exposure to ‘courir’ and other verbs. This exposure will enhance your understanding of ‘courir’ in various situations and improve your overall language proficiency.


The verb ‘courir’ is a versatile tool in the French language, expressing not only the act of running but also an array of related actions and concepts. Despite its irregular nature, understanding ‘courir’ will enrich your French vocabulary and enable you to convey a wide range of ideas.

Remember that language learning is not just about memorizing words and their meanings—it’s about understanding the cultural and contextual nuances that bring the language to life. So, as you continue your journey of learning French, embrace the richness and complexity of the language. Whether you’re discussing your morning run, a business venture, or a global adventure, ‘courir’ will serve as a valuable tool in your French language toolkit.

Bonne chance avec votre apprentissage du français! (Good luck with your French learning!)

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