Passé simple Conjugations

Le passé simple
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French simple past conjugations

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 donnailevaiallaieffaçaibougeai
tu-asdonnaslevasallaseffaçasbougeas
il-adonnalevaallaeffaçabougea
nous -âmesdonnâmeslevâmesallâmeseffaçâmesbougeâmes
vous-âtesdonnâteslevâtesallâteseffaçâtesbougeâtes
ils-èrentdonnèrentlevèrentallèrenteffacèrentbougèrent

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…

endingschoisir > chois-partir > part-offrir > offr-vendre > vend-battre > batt-
je-ischoisispartisoffrisvendisbattis
tu-ischoisispartisoffrisvendisbattis
il-itchoisitpartitoffritvenditbattit
nous -îmeschoisîmespartîmesoffrîmesvendîmesbattîmes
vous-îteschoisîtespartîtesoffrîtesvendîtesbattîtes
ils-irentchoisirentpartirentoffrirentvendirentbattirent

Irregular verbs with regular endings

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

s’asseoirs’ass-
conduireconduis-  
dired-
écrireécriv-
fairef-
joindrejoign-
mettrem-
naîtrenaqu-
peindrepeign-
prendrepr-
rirer-
voirv-

Par exemple…

endingsdire > d-naître > naqu-prendre > pr-
je-isdisnaquispris
tu-isdisnaquispris
il-itditnaquitprit
nous -îmesdîmesnaquîmesprîmes
vous-îtesdîtesnaquîtesprîtes
ils-irentdirentnaquirentprirent

"Past participle with -u" verbs

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

avoireu-
boirebu-
connaîtreconnu-
courircouru-
croirecru-
devoirdu-
falloirfallu-
lirelu-
pleuvoirplu-
pouvoirpu-
recevoirreçu-
savoirsu-
valoirvalu-
vivrevécu-
vouloirvoulu

These verbs require a third set of passé simple endings.

Par exemple…

endingsavoir > eu-devoir > du-vivre > vécu-
je-seusdusvécus
tu-seusdusvécus
il-teutdutvécut
nous -^meseûmesdûmesvécûmes
vous-^teseûtesdûtesvécûtes
ils-renteurentdurentvécurent

Completely irregular verbs

Four verbs have irregular stems and take the irregular endings.

endingsêtre > fu-mourir > mouru-tenir > tin-venir > vin-
je-sfusmourustinsvins
tu-sfusmourustinsvins
il-tfutmouruttintvint
nous -^mesfûmesmourûmestînmesvînmes
vous-^tesfûtesmourûtestîntesvîntes
ils-rentfurentmoururenttinrentvinrent

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French passé simple
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