French Tenses Ab Initio

  • Created by: izzygmcc
  • Created on: 06-04-18 16:38

French Tenses Ab Initio


  • The present tense has three different sets of endings for ER, IR and RE verbs. ER- e, es, e, ons, ez, ent. RE- s, s, -, ons, ez, ent. IR- is, is, it, issons, issez, issent.
  • The Past Perfect tense is one of the two past tenses used within French. The conjugations of AVOIR or ETRE are used; ai, as, a, avons, avez, ont. suis, es, est, sommes, etes, sont. The verbs used with ETRE are Mourir, Rester, Sortir, Venir, Aller, Naitre, Descendre, Entrer, Rentrer, Tomber, Retourner, Arriver, Montre, Partir. If ETRE is used the past participle must agree with the subject so fem. ending is -e, Masc. Plu. ending is -s and Fem. Plu. ending is -es. ETRE is also used with reflexive verbs. To form the past participle -ER-É, RE-U and IR- I
  • The Imperfect tense is the other of the two past tenses which is used within French. The conjugation is formed by taking the NOUS form of the present tense, removing the ending and adding, ais, ais, ait, ions, iez, aient. There is only one irregular in the formation of this tense and it is ETRE- ét.
  • There are also two ways of forming the future tense within French, the immediate future can be used. The conjugation of aller is needed plus the infinitive of the verb. vais, vas, va, allons, allez, vont.
  • The other future tense is known as the simple future tense. This is formed by using the infinitive of the tense (with the RE verbs remove the -E). This is followed by adding the endings; ai, as, a, ons, ez, ont.
  • Another tense that may be used is the conditional tense. This is formed by taking the infinitive of the tense (RE verbs, remove the -E). This is followed by the same endings as the imperfect tense; ais, ais, ait, ions, iez, aient.


  • This allows one to speak within the present and say what is currently occurring, the most basic of tenses and the tense which is used most often. There are many irregulars that are formed within this tense. The most often used ones are usually considered to be; ALLER, ETRE, AVOIR and FAIRE
  • The Past Perfect tense allows past actions which occurred to be talked about and these actions are completed or one off actions. This translates into the -ed form of a verb in English. Past participles within this tense can be irregular.
  • The Imperfect past tense is used to talk continuous and habitual actions which occurred in the past and are now no longer occurring. This translates normally as one used to However, there are cases when that is not the direct translation into English.
  • The immediate future tense is used to talk about immediate actions within the future and translates into English as one is something. It is the easier tense to form but can also be considered as quite simple.
  • The simple future tense is also used to talk about events that will occur and translates into English as one will... This that an action will occur in the future.
  • The conditional tense is used within French to suggest probabilities of what will occur within the future but are not definite. This translates into English as one would... The irregulars within this tense are the same as within the future tense so there is no difference between the stem of the future tense and the stem of the conditional tense.

Overall summary

There are many irregular French verbs which do not have rules and must simply be learnt. Another important grammar point for English speakers is that there is no gerund tense in French (ing) and this should be avoided when making translations into French.


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