French 101

Receive aemail containing the next unit.

French Grammar (Advanced)

Understanding French Tenses: Past, Present, and Future

Mastering the tenses in French is a crucial step towards fluency. This unit will guide you through the intricacies of the present, past, and future tenses in French, including their regular and irregular forms.

Present Tense

The present tense in French, like in English, is used to express current actions or states of being.

  • Regular Verbs: These verbs follow a specific conjugation pattern. For example, for verbs ending in -er (like "parler" - to speak), the endings are as follows: je parle, tu parles, il/elle/on parle, nous parlons, vous parlez, ils/elles parlent.

  • Irregular Verbs: These verbs do not follow a specific pattern and need to be memorized. Some common irregular verbs include "être" (to be), "avoir" (to have), and "aller" (to go).

Past Tense

French has two main past tenses: the passé composé and the imparfait.

  • Passé Composé: This tense is used to express actions that happened at a specific time in the past or actions that were completed. It is formed with the present tense of "avoir" or "être" (auxiliary verb) and the past participle of the main verb.

  • Imparfait: This tense is used to express ongoing or repeated actions in the past. It is formed by taking the nous form of the present tense, dropping the -ons ending, and adding the imparfait endings.

Future Tense

French has two main ways to express future actions: the simple future and the near future.

  • Simple Future: This tense is used to express actions that will happen in the future. It is formed by adding the future endings to the infinitive of the verb.

  • Near Future: This tense is used to express actions that are going to happen in the near future. It is formed with the present tense of "aller" followed by the infinitive of the main verb.

Compound Tenses

Compound tenses are used to express more complex temporal relationships.

  • Plus-que-parfait: This tense is used to express an action that had occurred before another action in the past. It is formed with the imparfait of "avoir" or "être" and the past participle of the main verb.

  • Future Perfect: This tense is used to express an action that will have occurred by some time in the future. It is formed with the future tense of "avoir" or "être" and the past participle of the main verb.

  • Past Conditional: This tense is used to express an action that would have occurred but didn't. It is formed with the conditional of "avoir" or "être" and the past participle of the main verb.

By understanding and practicing these tenses, you will be able to express a wide range of actions and states of being in French. Remember, practice makes perfect!