The French Recent Past: French Grammar and Pronunciation Glossary

Did you just finish your work? Yes, it's done now. (Passé Récent)

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The French recent past is a verb construction that's used to express something that just happened. In French it is the  passé récent. Avoid the temptation to omit the accents; without them, the phrase won't read.

Remembrance of Things Past

Like the futur proche, or near future, in French, the recent past tense, or passé récent, expresses the fluidity of time. There is the composed past, or passé composé, a specific action that was begun and completed in the past (Je suis allé en France > I went to France) and the less precise imperfect, or l'imparfait, which describes repeated actions, an ongoing action or a state of being in the past with no specified conclusion (J'allais en France > I was going to France).

 Then, there is the passé récent, which is something specific that just happened, something that happened even closer to your present than the passe composé (Je viens de manger > I just ate).   

Forming the Recent Past

Create a verb in the recent past, or passé récent, by combining the present tense of venir ("to come") with the preposition de and the action verb's infinitive, a single word that is the basic, unconjugated form of the verb. 

This makes the passé récent one of the easiest tenses to construct in the French language, and, as such, difficult to get wrong. 

That said, it does require the user to correctly spell the present tense of venir.

The Present Tense of 'Venir'

  • je viens
  • tu viens
  • il vient
  • nous venons
  • vous venez
  • ils viennent

 Combine the present tense of 'venir' with 'de' and an infinitive

   Je viens de voir Luc.
   I just saw Luc.

   Il vient d'arriver.
He just arrived.

   Nous venons de préparer le repas.
We just prepared the meal.

Additional Resources 

French past tenses
Verb timeline
Present tense