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French Past

Past tenses refer to past time. French past verb forms include le Passé Composé, l'Imparfait, and le Passé Simple.

For example:

  • Describing ongoing past events with no start or end time references (l'Imparfait):
    • Fabrice lisait et Véronique somnolait à côté de lui.
      Fabrice was reading and Véronique dozed next to him.

  • Referring to habitual actions in the past (l'Imparfait):
    • Ils s'arrêtaient toujours au bar pour boire un verre de vin. 
      They always stopped at the bar to drink a glass of wine. 

  • Referring to completed events or actions in the past (le Passé Composé or le Passé Simple):
    • Ils ont vendu leur maison et ils sont partis aux États-Unis.
    • Ils vendirent leur maison et ils partirent aux États-Unis. (In written French.)
      They sold their house and went to the United States.

(In English, there are other past tenses, such as the Simple PastPast Progressive, and Past Perfect.)

Related lesson: Tense