Passé simple Conjugations

French simple past conjugations

Le passé simple
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Passé simple conjugations are easy to recognize because, quite frankly, most of them look very strange.

Passé simple of -er verbs

All -er verbs use their infinitives minus -er for their passé simple conjugations, including regular -er verbs, stem-changing verbs, and the irregular verb aller. Because most of the passé simple endings start with "a," spelling change verbs require their spelling change in all but the third person plural.

Par exemple…

endings donner > donn- lever > lev- aller > all- effacer > effac- bouger > boug-
je/j’ -ai donnai levai allai effaçai bougeai
tu -as donnas levas allas effaças bougeas
il -a donna leva alla effaça bougea
nous -âmes donnâmes levâmes allâmes effaçâmes bougeâmes
vous -âtes donnâtes levâtes allâtes effaçâtes bougeâtes
ils -èrent donnèrent levèrent allèrent effacèrent bougèrent

Passé simple of -ir and -re verbs

Regular and many irregular -ir and -re verbs also use the infinitive minus infinitive ending as their passé simple stems, with a different set of passé simple endings.

Par exemple…

endings choisir > chois- partir > part- offrir > offr- vendre > vend- battre > batt-
je -is choisis partis offris vendis battis
tu -is choisis partis offris vendis battis
il -it choisit partit offrit vendit battit
nous -îmes choisîmes partîmes offrîmes vendîmes battîmes
vous -îtes choisîtes partîtes offrîtes vendîtes battîtes
ils -irent choisirent partirent offrirent vendirent battirent

Irregular verbs with regular endings

A dozen irregular verbs have irregular passé simple stems to which the regular -ir/-re endings are attached.

s’asseoir s’ass-
conduire conduis-  
dire d-
écrire écriv-
faire f-
joindre joign-
mettre m-
naître naqu-
peindre peign-
prendre pr-
rire r-
voir v-

Par exemple…

endings dire > d- naître > naqu- prendre > pr-
je -is dis naquis pris
tu -is dis naquis pris
il -it dit naquit prit
nous -îmes dîmes naquîmes prîmes
vous -îtes dîtes naquîtes prîtes
ils -irent dirent naquirent prirent

"Past participle with -u" verbs

Most irregular verbs whose past participle ends in -u use that as their passé simple stems.

avoir eu-
boire bu-
connaître connu-
courir couru-
croire cru-
devoir du-
falloir fallu-
lire lu-
pleuvoir plu-
pouvoir pu-
recevoir reçu-
savoir su-
valoir valu-
vivre vécu-
vouloir voulu

These verbs require a third set of passé simple endings.

Par exemple…

endings avoir > eu- devoir > du- vivre > vécu-
je -s eus dus vécus
tu -s eus dus vécus
il -t eut dut vécut
nous -^mes eûmes dûmes vécûmes
vous -^tes eûtes dûtes vécûtes
ils -rent eurent durent vécurent

Completely irregular verbs

Four verbs have irregular stems and take the irregular endings.

endings être > fu- mourir > mouru- tenir > tin- venir > vin-
je -s fus mourus tins vins
tu -s fus mourus tins vins
il -t fut mourut tint vint
nous -^mes fûmes mourûmes tînmes vînmes
vous -^tes fûtes mourûtes tîntes vîntes
ils -rent furent moururent tinrent vinrent

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French passé simple conjugations

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