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What’s the difference between pleurer and pleuvoir?

The French verbs pleurer and pleuvoir seem similar, but actually have very different meanings! Read on to learn the difference between the two, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.


Dehors, il pleut depuis 3 jours.

Quentin ne peut pas aller jouer dans le jardin. Ça lui donne envie de pleurer.


Pleurer means to cry; from sadness or from happiness.

Hier, j’ai regardé un film si triste que je n’ai pas arrêté de pleurer.Yesterday, I watched a film that was so sad I couldn’t stop crying.

The verb pleurer can be conjugated in every tense for all persons.


Pleuvoir means to rain.

Prends ton parapluie, il va pleuvoir.Take your umbrella, it’s going to rain.

This verb is impersonal. This means that it can only be conjugated in the 3rd person singular (il pleut, il a plu, il pleuvait, il pleuvra…).

We can also use pleuvoir in a figurative sense to mean rain down. In this context, we can also conjugate pleuvoir in the 3rd person plural.

« Les biens et les honneurs pleuvaient sur sa personne. » La Fontaine“Wealth and glory rained down on him.” La Fontaine

To see the conjugations of pleurer and pleuvoir, go to our French Verb Conjugator. To learn about some other confusing verbs, check out our pages on écouter/entendre and visiter/rendre visite.