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Home > French > Grammar > Past tenses


Past tenses


Past tenses

In this bite, we are going to look at two tenses, the perfect and the imperfect. Before we start, there are some things you should be sure of.

Five steps to mastering your tenses!

  • Know where your verbs are.
  • Know what tense you are using.
  • When using the past, know whether you should use perfect or imperfect.
  • Remember, different person, different ending.
  • Use your dictionary all the time, to check you are right.

Perfect or imperfect?

A teenage boy putting up his hand to answer a question in a French lesson.

These two past tenses are used for different purposes in French: let's look at when you would use one or the other!

  • You would use the perfect to talk or write about something which took place once in the past: 'I went to France last year'.
  • You would use the imperfect to talk or write about something which took place regularly: 'I used to visit my granny every Saturday'.
  • You would also use the imperfect to talk about something which went on for a time: 'I was listening to my new CD'.


Two boys in conversation.

Class Clips

Video clip showing how to express a past tense opinion


Woman chatting on Ma France.

Ma France

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