Passé simple – Literary Past

Le passé simple

Et c'est ainsi que je fis la connaissance du petit prince.

 When to use the passé simple? -- Quand se servir du passé simple ?

The passé simple is used exactly the same way as the passé composé is. The difference is in the style: passé composé is spoken French, passé simple is a literary tense.

Regular -er verbs – Les verbes réguliers en -er 

Regular –ER verbs (ending en –ER) have the following endings added to the stem of the given verb:

je/j’[1] (I) –ai                        

tu (you sing.) –as                        

elle (she) –a                        

il (he) –a                        

on[2] (we inf.) –a

nous (we form.) –âmes

vous (you pl.) –âtes

ils (they m.) –èrent

elles (they f.) –èrent

In context

Français English
Tu regardas la télé. You watched TV.
Nous dansâmes samedi. We danced on Saturday.
Ils parlèrent français. They spoke French.


Practice – Easier

Print this page and write out the JE form for these 10 verbs in the passé simple.

1. nous aimâmes

2. nous regardâmes

3. nous mangeâmes

4. nous écoutâmes

5. nous jouâmes

Answers – Solution

1. j'aimai

2. je regardai

3. je mangeai

4. j'écoutai

5. je jouai

And that's le passé simple in a nutshell. Of course, there is a lot more to know about it. Why should French be that simple, right? If you're curious about all the rules, get into the Premium area right here.

[1]When the following verb starts with a vowel or with a mute H, JE becomes J’.

[2] When the following verb starts with a vowel or with a mute H, a /n/ sound is heard between on and the verb, a /z/ sound is heard between nous, vous, ils and elles and the verb. It’s called a liaison.

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Bonne journée française !


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