Tenses

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Tenses

Verbs in French can be regular or irregular.

Regular verbs: come from one of three categories.

 

For example
...er danser, jouer, regarder
...irfinir, choisir
...rerépondre, attendre

 

All the verbs from one particular category follow the same pattern when forming tenses.

Irregular verbs: normally end in er, iror re but they change in different ways. There are no real shortcuts to learning irregular verbs. They just have to be learned off by heart.

Verbs change according to the tense and the person (for example je, tu, il etc.)

The tenses you definitely need for A Level are:

  1. Present
  2. Perfect
  3. Imperfect
  4. Plurperfect
  5. Future
  6. Conditional
  7. Subjunctive (mood)
  8. Passive (voice)
  9. Past Historic

You just need to recognise this, not use it yourself - see 'Advanced Grammar'.

For Example:

Je joue means either:

 

i) I playii) I am playingiii) I do play

 

Remember: meaning ii) above - everybody forgets this one.

If you have to ask somebody 'are you going... ?', you should just use the normal present tense = 'tu vas...?'

This is how you conjugate (form) the present tense: The verb ending is different for er, ir and re verbs and changes depending on the person (je, tu, il... etc).

The regular present tense is formed as follows: Start by removing the last two letters of the infintive (jouer / visiter/descendre etc.) and then adding the ending.

Tenses

Remember: these endings apply to all regular verbs.

Irregular verbs do not follow any set pattern - there are no shortcuts here, you just have to learn them.

Don't forget: Joe Bloggs is the same as he (il), so it follows that they have the same ending as il.

For example:

'Il déteste la géographie', the verb has the same ending when saying 'Joe Bloggs déteste la géographie'.

Other examples include:

  • Britney Spears = elle ; The Corrs = elles; George et moi = nous / on
  • The Royal Family/the police/the government etc. = it (NOT they) so il / elle
  • La famille royale a.../la police est... etc.

Try this exercise: Drag the correct verb onto the correct sentence:

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For example:

Je jouerai meaning I will play

The verb ending is the same in the future tense for er, ir and re verbs but changes depending on the person (je, tu, il... etc).

The endings are all derived from the present tense of 'avoir'.

The regular future tense is formed as follows:

Start with the infinitive up to and including the last 'r' (jouer/visiter/descendre etc.) and then adding the ending.

Have a go at this exercise: Type in the word you would expect, then press mark my answer:

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Try this exercise: Drag the correct form of the verb onto the line of the correct sentence. Remember to look at the ending.

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Simple future

Often when they are talking the French use a simple form of the future ALLER + infinitive e.g. Demain je vais acheter des vêtements.

For example:

Je jouerais meaning: I would play

The verb ending is the same in the conditional tense for er, ir and re verbs but changes depending on the person (je, tu, il... etc).The endings are all the same as the imperfect tense endings but go after thelast 'r' instead.

The regular conditional tense is formed as follows: Start with the infinitive to and including the last 'r' (jouer/visiter/descendre etc.) just like the future tense and then add the ending.

Try this exercise: Type in the word you expect, then click on mark my answer:

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Remember, these endings apply to all regular verbs and are the same for er/ ir and re verbs.

Irregular verbs usually change their stem (the bit before the 'r' but the endings are the same as the endings above).

For example:

 

I would be = je serais
I would go = j'irais

 

Stems of irregular verbs are the same in the future and the conditional; it's the ending that's different.

For example:

 

I will be = je serai
I would be = je serais

 

Drag the correct form of the verb onto the line of the correct sentence: Remember to look at the ending.

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