If you’re a beginner to low-intermediate level learner, you can get along for a good while speaking basic French using the present tense, le passé composé, and the futur proche (aller + infinitive).
I think it’s a really good idea to focus on mastering those three tenses and to get to where you feel comfortable using them before venturing out into the great big world of French verb forms. This will give you the opportunity you need to learn other important grammatical aspects of the language and to actually use them!
The present, basic past, and near future tenses will serve the purpose of getting your point across, and your main objective of communicating in French will be achieved.
Once you’ve reached this point, you will naturally want to communicate on a higher level so that you can say what you really mean. Expressing the time frame in which an action is taking (or took) place becomes more and more important as your level increases.
In French, there are many different tenses and verb forms. Learning to conjugate verbs can be challenging, but it’s very manageable. You just learn the rules and practice until you remember everything.
Knowing when to use all of the different tenses is the tricky part, and I’m here to help! Let’s work on this together. We’ll begin by doing a 17 minute exercise. Just click on the button below to watch the video. When you’re ready, you can take my free “Name That Tense” quiz.
I created this exercise and a comprehensive set of practice cards with video instruction to help you master the tenses and feel confident about speaking French. If you took the quiz and found it to be a bit challenging, try out my review activity!
This is a big review that includes 200 cards. In the first set of 100 cards, you’ll look at sentences written in French and name the tense that’s being used. In the second set, you’ll look at sentences written in English and translate them to French using the correct tense.
To make sure you get the most out of these practice cards, I’ve included two hours of video instruction in which we study each and every card together. This way, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to use each tense and how to apply it in a sentence.
Here are the 11 tenses and verb forms included in the practice cards:
le futur simple
le passé composé
le conditionnel passé
le futur antérieur
le subjonctif passé
le passé récent
Use these practice cards when you have studied and learned how to form the different tenses, but sometimes get confused knowing when to use them.
I use the same comprehensive approach to explaining French grammar that you’re used to seeing in all of my YouTube videos. I explain everything in English during the two hours of video instruction included in this exercise.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but exercises and review activities like “Name That Tense” will certainly help you move toward being able to switch between tenses with confidence.