zeldathemes
Real insight on French culture from a French native point of view.
Mostly run by Em, 26, living in Paris.
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Liberté, Egalité, Croque au Comté

When to use Participe Présent

Basically when you can replace it with an -ing verb if you had to translate it. I know teachers hate when you translate into your own language, but that what worked for me. Try to quickly translate your sentence into your mother tongue to get the meaning of it, it will give you clues about the temporality of the sentence and it will be easier for you to sort it out.

Participe présent doesn’t agree and it’s meant to describe an action (if it describes a subject > it’s an adjective then and it agrees.)

  • “L’orthographe changeant d’une région à l’autre.” : “The spelling changing from an area to another.”
  • “Les oiseaux tombant des arbres” : “Birds falling from trees”
  • “Elle raconte son histoire, parlant plus qu’elle ne devrait” : “She tells her story,speaking more than she should”

Not to mistake with adjectives : 

Les dirigeants dirigent des sociétés : Managers manage companies. = verbal adjective, describes a subject aka “the managers” = agrees in number & gender

> Mr & Mme Bertrand, dirigeant plus de 15 sociétés ensemble, sont en couple depuis 10 ans : Mr and Mrs Bertrand, managing more than 15 companies together, are in a relationship for 10 years. = participe présent, describes an action aka managing = invariable.

Hi, I`m learning french and I have a big doubt about present cointinous time in sentences like "I`m cooking" I just don`t find ther ight translation. I used the google translator and it translates everytime to a present of indicative (I cook). Plus, when I use it for the sentences "I am learning" or " She is lerning" it translates them as "Je suis d`apprentissage" and "Elle est l`apprentissage". Can you explain this to me, please?

Anonymous

(In general, don’t use Google translator, it will irrevocably lead to making mistakes. This kind of tool is only useful to check pronunciation. It can never be efficient for whole sentences because it analyzes each word independently instead of all the words combined and we’ll all agree that a sentence can only mean something if you analyze its meaning in its wholeness…)

You have two options to translate the verb+ing form: 

- Présent de l’indicatif (I just posted a master post about it, please check it): this is what we most frequently use. We understand very well thanks to the context that the action is being made so we don’t particularly need more “details”. 

- the “être en train de+ infinitive” form: This locution really insists on the action in the making. We tend to use it to make 100% clear that something is happening. For example: 

“Où est ta soeur ?”
“Elle médite dans sa chambre.” 
“Tu dis n’importe quoi, depuis quand ta soeur médite ?”
“Je ne sais pas mais le fait est qu’elle est en train de méditer dans sa chambre, en position du lotus et tout !”

“Where’s your sister?”
She’s meditating in her room.”
“what are you saying, since when she meditates?”
“I don’t know but the fact is that she is meditating in her room, doing the lotus position and stuff!”

Tense : Présent (de l’indicatif)

The French present tense, called le présent or le présent de l’indicatif, is quite similar in usage to the English present tense. In French, the present tense is used to express all of the following:

I. Current actions and situations

   Je suis fatigué.
   I am tired.

   Nous allons au marché.
   We are going to the market.

II. Habitual actions

   Il va à l’école tous les jours.
   He goes to school every day.

   Je visite des musées le samedi.
   I visit museums on Saturdays.

III. Absolute and general truths

   La terre est ronde.
   The earth is round.

   L’éducation est importante.
   Education is important.

IV. Actions which will occur immediately

   J’arrive !
   I’ll be right there!

   Il part tout de suite.
   He is leaving right away.

V. Conditions, such as in si clauses

   Si je peux, j’irai avec toi.
   If I can, I will go with you.

   Si vous voulez.
   If you like.


Note: The present tense is not used after certain constructions that indicate an action that will occur in the future, such as après que (after) and aussitôt que (as soon as). Instead, the future is used in French.


The French present tense has three different English equivalents, because the English helping verbs “to be” and “to do” are not translated into French. For example, je mange can mean all of the following:

  • I eat.
  • I am eating.
  • I do eat.

If you want to emphasize the fact that something is happening right now, you can use the conjugated verb être + en train de + infinitive. So to say “I am eating (right now),” you would literally say “I am in the process of eating”: Je suis en train de manger.

Tense : Conditionnel.

awesomefrench:

The French conditional mood is very similar to the English conditional mood. It describes events that are not guaranteed to occur; often they are dependent on certain conditions. While the French conditional mood has a full set of conjugations, the English equivalent is just the modal verb “would” + main verb.

The French conditional is mainly used in if … then, to express what would happen if a condition were met*

   Il mangerait s’il avait faim.
   He would eat if he were hungry.

   Si nous étudiions, nous serions plus intelligents.
   If we studied, (then) we would be smarter.

*Note that the conditional is in the result (then) part of the clause, not the clause that follows si (if).


The verb vouloir is used in the conditional to express a polite request:

   Je voudrais une pomme.
   I would like an apple.

   Je voudrais aller avec vous.
   I would like to go with you.

However, you can’t say “si vous voudriez” to mean “if you would like,” because the French conditional can never be used after si.


The verb aimer is used to express a polite desire, sometimes one that cannot be fulfilled:

   J’aimerais bien le voir !
   I would really like to see it!

   J’aimerais y aller, mais je dois travailler 
   I would like to go, but I have to work.

awesomefrench:

It’s way too complicated for me to post it all, check this very good lesson online. 

Bonjour Em! Could you please conjugate some simple verb in the passive voice, in all tenses, including the future and the conditional? (however you spell that word...) I'm having a hard time with my independent French course... :/


I won’t conjugate all tenses… 
The passive voice is made by using the verb “être” + participe passé.
The tense used in the active voice will be used to conjugated the verb “être” in the passive voice. 
For example :

Marion mange un chocolat. (tense: present)
Un chocolat est mangé par Marion. (“est” = 3rd person of être conjugated at present)

The participe passé agrees to the subject (masculine = no extra “e”, feminine = an extra “e”) > 

Marion mange une pomme. 
Une pomme est mangée par Marion.

A bunch of examples for 3rd person singular : 

Présent : mange > est mangé(e)

Futur simple : mangera > sera mangé(e)

Passé simple : mangea > fut mangé(e)

Passé composé : a mangé > a été mangé(e)         

Imparfait : mangeait > était mangé(e)

Plus-que-parfait : avait mangé > avait été mangé(e)

Conditionnel: mangerait > serait mangé(e) 

Conditionnel passé :
aurait mangé > aurait été mangé(e)  


/!\ Some verbs can’t be used in passive voice : conseiller , demander , dire , parler , permettre , répondre & téléphoner

Tense : Passé Composé

The passé composé is the most common French past tense, often used in conjunction with the imperfect. The passé composé can express any of the following:


I. An action completed in the past

   As-tu étudié ce weekend ?
   Did you study this weekend?

   Ils ont déjà mangé.
   They have already eaten.

II. An action repeated a number of times in the past

   Oui, j’ai mangé cinq fois hier.
   Yes, I did eat five times yesterday.

   Nous avons visité Paris plusieurs fois.
   We’ve visited Paris several times.

III. A series of actions completed in the past

   Quand je suis arrivé, j’ai vu les fleurs.
   When I arrived, I saw the flowers.

   Samedi, il a vu sa mère, a parlé au médicin et a trouvé un chat.
   Saturday he saw his mother, talked to the doctor, and found a cat.

Related lesson: Repeating auxiliary verbs


The passé composé has three possible English equivalents. For example, j’ai dansé can mean

  1. I danced   (simple past)
  2. I have danced   (present perfect)
  3. I did dance   (past emphatic)

What does Le Conjugueur do? 

conjugate all verbs from an infinitive
Find the infinive form from a already conjugated verb
Check how to write properly a verb

 

Tense : Impératif.

The imperative, called l’impératif in French, is a verb mood which is used to 

  • give an order
  • express a desire
  • make a request
  • offer advice
  • recommend something

Unlike all other French verb tenses and moods, the subject pronoun is not used with the imperative:

   Fermez la porte.
   Close the door.

   Mangeons maintenant.
   Let’s eat now.

   Ayez la bonté de m’attendre.
   Please wait for me.

   Veuillez m’excuser.
   Please excuse me.

The above are called “affirmative commands,” because they are telling someone to do something. “Negative commands,” which tell someone not to do something, are made by placing ne in front of the verb and the appropriate negative adverb after the verb:

   Ne parle pas !
   Don’t speak!

   N’oublions pas les livres.
   Let’s not forget the books.

   N’ayez jamais peur.
   Never be afraid.

Tense : Conditionnel.

The French conditional mood is very similar to the English conditional mood. It describes events that are not guaranteed to occur; often they are dependent on certain conditions. While the French conditional mood has a full set of conjugations, the English equivalent is just the modal verb “would” + main verb.

The French conditional is mainly used in if … then, to express what would happen if a condition were met*

   Il mangerait s’il avait faim.
   He would eat if he were hungry.

   Si nous étudiions, nous serions plus intelligents.
   If we studied, (then) we would be smarter.

*Note that the conditional is in the result (then) part of the clause, not the clause that follows si (if).


The verb vouloir is used in the conditional to express a polite request:

   Je voudrais une pomme.
   I would like an apple.

   Je voudrais aller avec vous.
   I would like to go with you.

However, you can’t say "si vous voudriez" to mean “if you would like,” because the French conditional can never be used after si.


The verb aimer is used to express a polite desire, sometimes one that cannot be fulfilled:

   J’aimerais bien le voir !
   I would really like to see it!

   J’aimerais y aller, mais je dois travailler 
   I would like to go, but I have to work.

It’s way too complicated for me to post it all, check this very good lesson online. 

Tense : Plus-que-parfait.

The French past perfect, or pluperfect, is used to indicate an action in the past that occurred before another action in the past. The latter can be either mentioned in the same sentence or implied.

   Il n’avait pas mangé (avant de faire ses devoirs).
   He hadn’t eaten (before doing his homework).

   J’ai fait du shopping ce matin ; j’avais déjà fait la lessive.
   I went shopping this morning; I had already done the laundry.

   J’étais déjà sorti (quand tu as téléphoné).
   I had already left (when you called).

   Nous voulions te parler parce que nous ne t’avions pas vu hier.
   We wanted to talk to you because we didn’t see you yesterday.


The pluperfect is also used in si clauses to express a hypothetical situation in the past contrary to what actually happened:

   Si tu m’avais demandé, j’aurais répondu.
   If you had asked me, I would have answered.

   Nous y serions allés si nous avions su.
   We would have gone if we had known.

Tense : Passé Antérieur.

The French past anterior is the literary equivalent of the past perfect. It is used in literature and historical accounts to indicate an action in the past that occurred before another action in the past. Because it is a literary tense, you don’t need to practice conjugating it, but it is important for you to be able to recognize it.

The French past anterior is usually introduced by one of these conjunctionsaprès que,aussitôt quedès quelorsque, or quand.

   Quand nous eûmes fini, nous mangeâmes.
   When we had finished, we ate.

   Dès qu’elle fut arrivée, le téléphone sonna.
   As soon as she arrived, the phone rang.

   Je partis après que vous fûtes tombé.
   I left after you fell.

(Note that the verb tense in the other clause is thepassé simple.)

Since the past anterior is a literary tense, it is usually replaced by another tense/mood in everyday speech - either the pluperfect (for habitual actions), the past infinitive, or the perfect participle.

Tense : Passé Simple

The passé simple, translated in English as either “simple past” or “preterite,” is the literary equivalent of the passé composé, which means that it is used only in formal writing (e.g., historical and literary writing) and very formal speech. In such writing and speech, the passé simple is used alongside the imperfect, just as in everyday speech/writing, the passé composéand imperfect are used together.

You will probably never need to actually use the passé simple, but it is important to recognize it, especially if you read in French a lot (fiction or non-fiction). Fortunately, the passé simple is very easy to recognize - my high school French teacher told me that if a verb looked weird, it was probably in the passé simple, and 9 times out of 10, she was right. :-)

Follow the link to learn how to conjugate the passé simple.

Tense : Futur Antérieur.

The French future perfect is most commonly used like the English future perfect: to describe an action that will have happened or will be finished by a specific point in the future.

   J’aurai mangé à midi.
   I will have eaten at noon.

   Quand tu arriveras, il l’aura déjà fait.
   When you arrive, he will already have done it.

   Elle lui aura parlé demain.
   She will have talked to him (by) tomorrow.

   Dans un mois, nous serons partis.
   In a month, we will have left.


There are three uses of the French future perfect that don’t correspond to the English future perfect:

1. In subordinate clauses that begin with theconjunctions aussitôt quedès quelorsquequand,une fois que, and après que, the future perfect is used to express a future action which will be completed before the action in the main clause. In English, a present tense or past tense would be used here.

   Quand je serai descendu, tu pourras me le montrer.
   When I have come down, you can show it to me.

   Nous le ferons aussitôt qu’elle sera arrivée.
   We’ll do it as soon as she arrives / has arrived.

2. The future perfect can make simple assumptions regarding past events, where the English modal verb “must” would be used in conjunction with the past perfect:

   Pierre n’est pas ici ; il aura oublié.
   Pierre isn’t here; he must have forgotten.

   Luc est heureux ; il aura gagné.
   Luc is happy; he must have won.

3. In historical narratives, the events of a person’s life can be described with the future perfect even though those events have long since passed. In English, these might be translated by a past tense or conditional:

   Napoléon aura pris une décision importante.
   Napoleon made / would make an important decision.

   George Sand aura écrit le roman La Mare au Diable en quatre jours.
   George Sand wrote / would go on to write the novel La Mare au Diable in four days.