French Past Imperative - Impératif passé

Introduction to the French past imperative

Finishing a report
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The French past imperative is very rare because its usage is restricted to a single situation: it gives a command for something that must be done before a certain time.

   Aie écrit ce rapport demain.
   Have this report written by tomorrow.

If you obey the instructions in the above example, when tomorrow comes the report will already be written, so the writing of it will be in the past, ergo, the past imperative.

If you use the regular imperative, Écris ce rapport demain, the report won't yet be written when tomorrow rolls around: in accordance with the command, you will be writing it tomorrow. On the other hand, the careful use of a preposition can make all the difference - you could just say Écris ce rapport avant demain and avoid the past imperative altogether - probably another reason that it is so rare.

   Soyez partis à midi.
   Leave / Be gone by noon.

   Ayons fini les devoirs à 7h00.
   Let's have our homework done by 7:00.

The past imperative is kind of similar in nuance to the past infinitive, except that it indicates a command rather than a statement of fact.

Because the past imperative is so rare, there's really no need to learn how to use it, but you should be able to recognize it.

How to Conjugate the Past Imperative

The past imperative is a compound conjugation, which means it has two parts:

  1. imperative of the auxiliary verb (either avoir or être)
  2. past participle of the main verb

Note: Like all French compound conjugations, the past imperative may be subject to grammatical agreement:

  • When the auxiliary verb is être, the past participle must agree with the subject
  • When the auxiliary verb is avoir, the past participle may have to agree with its direct object

    As with the present imperative, the past imperative has conjugations for only three grammatical persons: tunous, and vous.

    Pronoun  parlerchoisiravoirêtre
    (tu)aie parléaie choisiaie euaie été
    (nous)ayons parléayons choisiayons euayons été
    (vous)ayez parléayez choisiayez euayez été
     
     sortirdescendreallervenir
    (tu)sois sorti(e)sois descendu(e)sois allé(e)sois venu(e)
    (nous)soyons sorti(e)ssoyons descendu(e)ssoyons allé(e)ssoyons venu(e)s
    (vous)soyez sorti(e)(s)  soyez descendu(e)(s)  soyez allé(e)(s)  soyez venu(e)(s)
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    Lawless, Laura K. "French Past Imperative - Impératif passé." ThoughtCo, Apr. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/french-past-imperative-1368897. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, April 6). French Past Imperative - Impératif passé. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-past-imperative-1368897 Lawless, Laura K. "French Past Imperative - Impératif passé." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-past-imperative-1368897 (accessed January 22, 2018).