How many tenses does French have?
French has 10 indicative tenses, but not all of them are used in everyday language:
Le passé simple (the past historic) and le passé antérieur (the anterior past) are only used in literature, while le présent (the present), le passé composé (the simple past), l’imparfait (the imperfect), le passé récent (the recent past), le plus-que-parfait (the past perfect), le futur proche (the near future), le futur simple (the future simple) and le futur antérieur (the future perfect) are used in day-to-day contexts.
Learn how to conjugate verbs in the indicative tenses in French with Lingolia, just click on a tense below to get started.
To learn how to conjugate verbs in other moods in French such as the conditional, the imperative and the subjunctive, go to the section on verbs.
The overview of French tenses lists all the different French verb tenses together with their conjugations for -er/-ir/-re verbs. You can also find tips on how to use each of the tenses correctly.
- tu aimes
- tu as/avais aimé
- tu aimais
- tu aimas
- tu aimeras
The présent corresponds to the present tense in English. We mostly use this tense to speak about regular and one-time actions that take place in the present as well as scheduled future events.
- je finis
- je vends
The passé composé corresponds to the simple past tense in English. We use it to talk about completed actions in the past, and to emphasise the results or outcome of a past action.
- j’ai aimé/fini/vendu
- je suis parti
The imparfait corresponds to the English past progressive tense and phrases like used to. It can talk about an action or situation that was in progress at a certain point in the past, as well as expressing a regular and repeated past action.
- je finissais
- je vendais
The imparfait and the passé composé both refer to the past, but cannot be used interchangeably.
- Pendant que je parlais avec un agriculteur, j’ai reçu un appel.
We use the passé récent to speak about an action that was completed shortly before the moment of speaking. It corresponds to the English structure have just + past participle.
- Je viens de terminer un livre génial.I have just finished an amazing book.
Je venais de sortir quand il s’est mis à pleuvoir.I had just gone out when it started to rain.
The passé simple is the literary equivalent of the passé composé. It expresses one-time, completed actions in the past.
- je finis
- je vendis
The plus-que-parfait corresponds to the past perfect tense in English. We use it to express actions that took place before a certain point in the past.
- j’avais aimé/fini/vendu
- j’étais parti
The futur proche is used for actions in the near future. It corresponds to the English structure going to + infinitive. This tense emphasises that there is already an intention behind the action and that it will shortly take place.
- je vais aimer/finir/vendre
The futur simple corresponds to the will-future tense in English. We mainly use this tense to talk about future plans or to make predictions.
- je finirai
- je vendrai
The futur antérieur corresponds to the future perfect tense in English. It indicates that an action will have been completed by a certain point in the future. It also makes suppositions about possible past events.
- j’aurai aimé/fini/vendu
- je serai parti
Get to know the irregular verbs with our list of the most common irregular verbs in French. The verbs are presented together with their conjugations in all tenses.