About Tenses in French

So, what is a "verb" and how does it work?

A verb is a part of speech that denotes an action. It answers the question "what to do?" in an indefinite form (the infinitive). The verb has the function of one of the main members of a sentence - the predicate.

How many tenses does a French verb have?

In French there are tenses that are used only in conversational speech, and those which are used only in writing. For those who learn or have already learned English, we have great news - in French, there are less tenses than in English!

So, what kind of tenses do the French use when they talk?

  1. Présent / Present
  2. Futur Immédiat / Near Future
  3. Futur Simple / Future Simple
  4. Futur Antérieur / Complex Future
  5. Futur Immédiat dans le Passé / Near Future in the Past
  6. Passé composé / Complex Past
  7. Imparfait / Present Perfect
  8. Passé Immédiat/ Past Simple
  9. Plus-que-parfait / Past Perfect

Here are the tenses for writing form:

  1. Passé Simple / Past Simple
  2. Passé Antérieur / Complex past
  3. Passé Surcomposé / Past Perfect

There are two more tenses in French - Futur simple dans le Passé / Future in the past, Futur antérieur dans le Passé / Complex future in the past. These tenses have the form of a conditional mood - Conditionnel présent and Conditionnel passé 1re forme. But, not to cook your brain, we will consider these forms in some of the next articles.

And voilà! Table of French tenses for your better understanding:





Future in the past


Passé composé


Passé immédiat





Futur simple

Futur immédiat

Futur antérieur

Futur simple dans

le Passé

Futur antérieur

dans le Passé

Futur immédiat

dans le Passé


Passé simple

Passé antérieur







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