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Indicative in French

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The indicative (French: l'indicatif) is a personal mood and you use it to talk about life in general. It has 8 tenses. 

  • le présent 
  • l'imparfait
  • le passé simple
  • le futur simple
  • le passé composé 
  • le plus-que-parfait
  • le passé antérieur 
  • le futur antérieur

Indicative in French

​The present tense

The present (French: le présent) is used to express what is happening at the moment we talk

Its endings are various depending of the group verbs: 

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)

Note that the 3rd group verbs have three different endings. 

3rd group verbsgeneralprendre (to take)pouvoir (can)

enlightenedAll infinitive verbs ending in -dre conjugate like "prendre" except 'joindre' (to join)

enlightened'Valoir' (to worth) and 'vouloir' (want) also conjugate like "pouvoir"

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The imperfect 

The imperfect (French: l'imparfait) expresses an action or fact that already happened at the moment we talk but is still progressing

The endings of the imperfect are the same for all group verbs

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)3rd group verb: mettre (to put)

The literary past tense

The literary past tense (French: le passé simple) expresses a completed action in the past

The endings are various depending on the group verbs.

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)

Note that for the 3rd group verbs, there are 3 different endings

3rd group verbsprendre (to take)venir (to come)croire (to believe)

The future simple

The future simple (French: le futur simple) is used when you want to talk about a fact or an action in the near future. It didn't happen yet at the moment of speaking

The endings of the future simple are the same for all group verbs:

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)3rd group verb: mettre (to put)

enlightenedThe future of the verb 'aller' is: irai, iras, ira, irons, irez, iront

The past completed 

The past completed (French: le passé composé) is a used when you want to talk in the past about a fact or an action that already happened at the moment of speaking

It is formed with an auxiliary avoir or être conjugated in the present tense and the past participle.

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group: grandir (to grow)3rd group verb: partir (to leave)
je/j'ai aiméai grandisuis parti(e)
tuas aiméas grandies parti(e)
il/elle/ona aiméa grandiest parti(e)
nousavons aiméavons grandisommes partis(e)
vousavez aiméavez grandiêtes partis(e)
ils/ellesont aiméont grandisont partis(e)

The pluperfect

The pluperfect (French: le plus-que-parfait) is used to accentuate on the anteriority of a fact or an action related to a past action. In this case, you can either use it with the past completed or the literary past tense. 

It is formed with an auxiliary avoir or être conjugated in the imperfect tense and the past participle. 

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)3rd group verb: partir (to leave)
j'avais aiméavais grandiétais parti(e)
tuavais aiméavais grandiétais parti(e)
il/elle/onavait aiméavait grandiétait parti(e)
nousavions aiméavions grandiétions partis(e)
vousaviez aiméaviez grandiétiez partis(e)
ils/ellesavaient aiméavaient grandiétaient partis(e)

The past anterior

The past anterior (French: le passé antérieur) is always used with the past simple to accentuate the anteriority of a completed action

It is formed with the auxiliary avoir or être conjugated in the past simple and the past participle.

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)3rd group verb: partir (to leave)
j'eu aiméeu grandifus parti(e)
tueus aiméeus grandifus parti(e)
il/elle/oneut aiméeut grandifut parti(e)
nouseûmes aiméeûmes grandifûmes partis(e)
vouseûtes aiméeûtes grandifûtes partis(e)
ils/elleseurent aimé eurent grandifurent partis(e)

The future perfect 

The future perfect (French: le futur antérieur) has two uses: it can be used all alone in this case, it expresses a fact or an action which will be completed at the moment. It can be used along with the future simple, in this case, it expresses an action that will happen after a second action

It is formed with the auxiliary avoir or être conjugated in the future simple and the past participle.

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)3rd group verb: partir (to leave)
j'aurai aiméaurai grandiserai parti(e)
tuauras aiméauras grandiseras parti(e)
il/elle/onaura aiméaura grandisera parti(e)
nousaurons aiméaurons grandiserons partis(e)
vousaurez aiméaurez grandiserez partis(e)
ils/ellesauront aiméauront grandiseront partis(e)

The near future

Even if the near future (French: le futur proche) is not considered as a tense, the French grammar use it to talk about an action that will take place very soon

It is formed with the verb aller conjugated in the present tense and the infinitive of the verb.

Pronouns1st group verb: aimer (to like)2nd group verb: grandir (to grow)3rd group verb: partir (to leave)
jevais aimervais grandirvais partir
tuvas aimervas grandirvas partir
il/elle/onva aimerva grandirva partir
nousallons aimerallons grandirallons partir
vousallez aimerallez grandirallez partir
ils/ellesvont aimervont grandirvont partir

enlightenedVerbs that uses the auxiliary être agrees in gender and number

enlightenedLearn more about the past participle by clicking the link. 

enlightenedLearn about the conjugation of avoir and être to form the compound times. 

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Next lessons

1 Present tense in French Get an overview about the present tense in French and study this topic online.
2 Past tenses in French Get an overview about the past tense in French and study this topic online.
3 Future tenses in French Get an overview about the future tenses in French and study this topic online.