Aller – Near Future

French near futureYou can explain what will happen in the near future with the construction aller + infinitive; for example, L'avion va atterrir ici - "The plane is going to land here."

   

Auxiliary Verbs – Avoir vs Être

French auxiliary verbsAuxiliary verbs are also known as helping verbs, because they help form compound conjugations. The key thing to remember about compound conjugations is that it's the auxiliary verb which conjugates for the required tense or mood; the main verb is always a past participle.

   

Avoiding the Subjunctive

Avoiding the French subjunctiveAlthough the subjunctive is commonly used in French, there are numerous ways to avoid it, with varying meaning changes. (This doesn't mean you don't need to know how to use the subjunctive, just that there are times when an alternative is acceptable.)

   

Compound Modal Verbs

Translating modal verbs into FrenchCompound modal verbs express perfect (in the grammatical sense of "completed") actions. These English constructions consist of a modal verb + have + past participle, while the French equivalent is usually a verb in a perfect tense or mood plus an infinitive.

   

Conditional Mood

French conditionalIn English, we use the modal "would" plus a verb to talk about actions that may or may not take place, usually depending on whether a certain condition is met. The French equivalent to this construction is a conditional mood with a full set of conjugations for every verb. The uses of these two constructions are very similar.

   

Conditional Perfect

French conditional perfectTo talk about something that would, could, or should have happened—but didn't—you need the conditional perfect, also known as the past conditional.

   

Conditional Perfect, Second Form

Second form of the French conditional perfectThe second form of the conditional perfect suffers from something of an identity crisis: it looks like the pluperfect subjunctive but has the value of the conditional perfect. The second form of the past conditional is used mostly in si clauses and is a literary tense, so is found only in very formal written French.

   

Future Perfect

French future perfectWouldn't it be nice if you could plan a perfect future? Too bad that's not what the future perfect tense does. The grammatical term "perfect" means "completed," so the future perfect is used to talk about something that will have happened or will have been completed at some point in the future.

   

Future Tense

French future tenseIn English, we use the modal "will" plus a verb to talk about actions that will take place in the future, but in French there's a future tense with a full set of conjugations for every verb. The uses of these two constructions are very similar.

   

Historical Tenses

French historical tensesWhen writing about history, the tenses used in French and English aren't always the same. French prefers to use the present or even the future, while English tends to favor the past tense.