The Futur Simple

The future simple is one of the most simple and useful tenses for french speakers. It allows you to say what will happen in the future. It is formed by the stem of the future tense (the verb with an r at the end, for -re verbs, cut off the e, for -er verbs, leave it), and the endings for avoir in the present tense (ai, as, a, ons, ez, ont). For some verbs, it is not so easy and they change their stem in the future. Below is a table with some of these verbs, and the stems they use.

Verb Stem Verb Stem
aller ir– avoir aur–
devenir deviendr– être ser–
faire fer– pouvoir pourr–
vouloir vourdr– venir vienr–
voir verr– envoyer enverr–
courir courr– mourir mourr–
recevoir recevr– devoir devr–

The Conditionnel

The conditionnel is french tense used in hypothetical questions and statements, it is also very commonly used to be polite (conditionnel de politesse) when making suggestions or requests. Reference to the English is helpful in this case as the use of the conditional is generally the same in both languages. The formation of this tense is very easy, just take the future stem of the verb (look at table above) and the imparfait endings (see table below). To the left are several practice problems you can use to practice your implementation of the conditionnel.

noun conjugation noun conjugation
je –ais nous –ions
tu –ais vous –iez
il/elle/on –ait ils/elles –aient

Fill in the blank of these sentences with the correct form of the verb in parenthesis. Some sentences may require inversion. Answers can be found after the questions in white text. Simply highlight the whole webpage (cmd + a) and you will see the answers.

Si vous étiez arrivé à l'heure, vous (avoir) trouvé de la place.

(Savoir) où se trouve la pâtisserie "Chez Sarah".

(Avoir) le temps de me voir demain après-midi?

(Pouvoir) m'aider à porter mes paquets?

Si j'étais temoin d'un meutre, je le (dire) à la police.

1. auriez   2. Sauriez-vous   3. Auriez-vous   4. dirais

Copyright 1998 Samuel Schiminovich and Anne Boyman.

The Plus-Que Parfait.

The plus-que parfait allows you to say that one action in the past preceeded another action in the past. For example, if I went to the store after I finished my homework, I would say: I went to the store when I had finished my homework. In french, the two clauses of that sentence would have two different tenses. The first action would be put in the plus-que parfait, which is the passé composé with the helping verb in the imparfait form of the helping verb. The second action would be in the passé composé. Often times, the hardest part of this tense is knowing which action came first. If the sentence begins with quand, the first action happened first, and thus would be in the plus-que parfait, if they second part of this sentence begins with a pronoun, it is the second action. This trick is not foolproof, and should only be used to check your work. Below is a table showing the imparfait conjugations of avoir and être.

avoir être
j'avais nous avions j'étais nous étions
tu avais vous aviez tu étais vous étiez
il/elle/on avait ils/elles avaient il/elle/on était ils/elles étaient