Community Web Version Now Available
Alexander Russkikh
Past tense in French Bonjour! Is it true that in spoken french you use j'ai .... to say something in past time and don't use other tenses? And what past tenses do you use very seldom? Merci!
Jun 22, 2015 5:50 AM
4
0
Answers · 4
Yes, this is true. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that the French 'passé composé' ( Il a donné) is the equivalent of the English present perfect ( He has given), and that the French 'passé simple' (Il donna) is the equivalent of the English past simple (He gave). The forms and even the names of these tenses would make you think that they are equivalents, but this is far from the case. The passé composé is the form most used in spoken French, and in informal and neutral written French, to refer to past events. In most cases, it corresponds to both the present perfect and the past simple in English. So, the French phrase 'J'ai vu' would - in most cases - translate both 'I've seen' AND 'I saw'. The passé simple, 'Je vis', is a formal construction only used in literary texts. It is never used in speech.
June 22, 2015
It is true, but not totally. I can't explain you here the use of the different tenses in French.It would be too long. I'll just give you a few examples I went to Paris last week --> Je suis allée... A month ago I bought a new car ---> j'ai acheté = something ponctual in the past There is a tendency to replace the "passé simple" (ponctual facts) by the "passé composé" >< When I was a child I used to drink milk every morning --> j'étais/ buvais I hope I helped you Martine
June 22, 2015
Alexander Russkikh
Language Skills
Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Learning Language
Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish