Penser (à) vs. Penser (que)
Penser is a French verb that belongs to the 1st group (ER-verbs). Its literal meaning in English is to think. Penser is very much used in daily conversations, but it can sometimes lead to some confusion for non-native French speakers.
|je pense||nous pensons|
|tu penses||vous pensez|
|il/elle/on pense||ils/elles pensent|
One common mistake, for example, is to misspell it. Penser with an ‘e’ means to think. Panser with an ‘a’ means to dress (a wound).
Penser and Panser are both pronounced the same way, and that’s why you should make sure to know their respective spellings.
In this quick tutorial, I would like to explain two important uses of penser: “penser à” and “penser que”. In case you’re wondering, ‘à” in “penser à” is a preposition and here, it means “about”. “Que” in “penser que” is a relative pronoun and it means “that”. Generally, “penser que” will be followed by another clause (see example further below).
- Penser à…to think about: A few examples where you can see “penser à” at work:
- Je pense à toi. I think about you.
- Nous pensons à ce problème tout le temps. We think about this problem all the time.
- Anne est en voyage, mais elle pense aux enfants. Anne is on a trip, but she is thinking about the children.
(Please note that à will become aux when the noun that follows it is masculine AND plural (enfants))
- Penser que…to think that: A few examples where you can see “penser que” at work:
- Je pense que vous avez raison. I think that you are right.
- Nous pensons que ce problème est difficile. We think that this problem is difficult.
- Anne pense que ses voisins sont sympas. Anne thinks that her neighbors are nice.