Could someone tell me in simple terms how to form the french past tense? Been trying for weeks, can't get the hang of it!
The perfect tense in french is used for an action that happened in the past at a specific time.
To form the french perfect tense there are 3 steps:
1. Take the person:
2. Match it with the correct part of the verb 'AVOIR' for most verbs in the perfect. There are a few exceptions which i will explain in a minute.
Je --> J'ai...
Tu --> Tu as...
Il/elle --> Il/elle a...
Nous --> Nous avons...
Vous --> Vous avez...
Ils/elles --> Ils/elles ont...
3. Now you need the verb that you were doing in the past tense.
For verbs ending in -ER (jouer)
You just take off the -R and put an acute accent on the e - for example
J'ai joué au football
I played football
For verbs ending in -IR (finir)
You just take off the -R - for example
J'ai fini mes devoirs
I finished my homework
For verbs ending in -RE (vendre)
You change the -RE for 'u' - for example
J'ai vendu mon livre
I sold my book
However as i said there are a few exceptions where you have to match the person up with the correct part of 'ETRE' instead of 'AVOIR'
Je --> Je suis
Tu --> Tu es
Il/elle --> Il/elle est
Nous --> Nous sommes
Vous --> Vous êtes
Ils/elles --> Ils/elles sont
The verbs that take 'ETRE' are as follows:
Monter --> monté (went up)
Retourner --> retourné (returned)
Sortir --> sorti (went out)
Venir --> venu (came)
Arriver --> arrivé (arrived)
Naître --> né (was born)
Descendre --> descendu (went down)
Entrer --> entré (entered)
Rester --> resté (stayed)
Tomber --> tombé (fell)
Rentrer --> rentré (went back in)
Aller --> allé (went)
Mourir --> mort (died)
Partir --> parti (left)
The first letters of these verbs spell out 'MRS VAN DER TRAMP' which is how i remember which verbs take etre in the perfect tense.
A lot of people struggle with learning this but it is essential if you want to know french. I hope i have been of help to you
To go along with what green bean 98 said above, it's best to create "anchors" to help you remember. An achor is something that helps your remember. In this case you could use colours... write/highlight everything your write in the PAST tense in blue, everything in the PRESENT tense in yellow and everything in the FUTURE tense in orange.
This way you associate a colour with the tense. It may sound silly but it works! Lots of teachers use it.
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