6 English Verb Tenses with their FRENCH equivalent: Which tense corresponds to which?


  1. The SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE in English corresponds to the SIMPLE PRESENT in French. This is a tense used to state facts or habits.
  • I have a cat. (English)
  • J’ai un chat. (French)


2. The SIMPLE PAST in English corresponds to the PASSE COMPOSE in French (but note that it is constructed like the present perfect in English!) The action is definitively in the past.

  • I ran to school.
  • J’ai couru a l’école. ( Note that “I have run to school” would be the literal translation in English and this is present perfect in English using “to have” and the past participle.)


3. The PRESENT PERFECT in English corresponds to the IMPARFAIT in French. This action started in the past but continues more than likely in the present or has a connection to the present conversation.

  • I have eaten.
  • Je mangeais.


4. The SIMPLE PAST corresponds to the PASSE SIMPLE (as well as the passé composé) in French but  the passé simple in French only when writing formally about history or literature, etc,  and English does not have any tense to distinguish between formal past events and informal past events. So, in English, when talking about an action in the past you will use either the simple past, the past continuous or (one of the past perfect tenses) depending on what you mean.


5. The SIMPLE FUTURE in English corresponds to the FUTUR SIMPLE in French.

  • I will go there. (English)
  • J’y irai.
  • Je vais y aller.


6. The PAST PERFECT  in English corresponds to the PLUS QUE PARFAIT.

  • I had made it for my brother.
  • J’avais le fait pour mon frère.




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