Languages › French The French Past Tense, or Passé Simple Share Flipboard Email Print ThoughtCo / Claire Cohen French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers By ThoughtCo Updated February 21, 2020 The passé simple, translated in English as either "simple past" or "preterite," is the literary equivalent of the passé composé, which means that it is used only in formal writing (like historical and literary writing) and very formal speech. In such writing and speech, the passé simple is used alongside the imperfect, just as in everyday speech/writing, the passé composé and imperfect are used together. You will probably never need to actually use the passé simple, but it is important to recognize it, especially if you read in French a lot (fiction or nonfiction). Fortunately, the passé simple is very easy to recognize. If a verb looks "weird" to you, chances are it's the passé simple. How to Conjugate the Passé Simple The"passé simple of regular verbs is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and adding the passé simple endings. Notes: -ER verbs take the first set of endings-IR and -RE take the second set of endingsSpelling change verbs, like manger and lancer, have their spelling change in most forms of the passé simple.Irregular verbs at the bottom have irregular stems in the passé simple, but take the same endings as regular -IR/-RE verbs. ER endings parler: parl- manger: mang- lancer: lanc- je -ai parlai mangeai lançai tu -as parlas mangeas lanças il -a parla mangea lança nous -âmes parlâmes mangeâmes lançâmes vous -âtes parlâtes mangeâtes lançâtes ils -èrent parlèrent mangèrent lancèrent IR/RE endings finir: fin- rendre: rend- voir: v- je -is finis rendis vis tu -is finis rendis vis il -it finit rendit vit nous -îmes finîmes rendîmes vîmes vous -îtes finîtes rendîtes vîtes ils -irent finirent rendirent virent Irregular verbs s'asseoir s'ass- mettre m- conduire conduis- naître naqu- dire d- peindre peign- écrire écriv- prendre pr- faire f- rire r- joindre joign- voir v- Conjugate Irregular Verbs in the Passé Simple Most irregular verbs with a past participle that ends in -u use that past participle as the passé simple stem. These verbs and their stems are: avoir: eu-boire: bu-connaître: connu-courir: couru-croire: cru-devoir: du-falloir: fallu-lire: lu-pleuvoir: plu-pouvoir: pu-recevoir: reçu-savoir: su-valoir: valu-vivre: vécu-vouloir: voulu- Three verbs have irregular stems, but take the same endings as the above verbs: être: fu-mourir: mouru-venir: vin- The passé simple endings for irregular verbs are as follows: je: -stu: -sil: -tnous: -^mesvous: -^tesils: -rent Here are a few irregular French verbs conjugated into the passé simple: avoir: eu- j'eustu eusil eutnous eûmesvous eûtesils eurent être: f- je fustu fusil futnous fûmesvous fûtesils furent mourir: mouru- je mourustu mourusil mourutnous mourûmesvous mourûtesils moururent venir: vin- je vinstu vinsil vintnous vînmesvous vîntesils vinrent Learn How to Conjugation "Plaire" (to Please) in French Learn How to Say "Singing" and "Sang" in French Learn How to Conjugate "Se Taire" (to Be Quiet) in French How Do You Conjugate "Fuir" (to Flee) in French? "Snuff Out" the French Conjugations of "Éteindre" Learn How to Say "I Broke" in French Using "Rompre" How Do I Conjugate the French Imperfect Tense? "Throw" the Conjugations of "Lancer" Into Your French Vocabulary "Acquérir" is a Bit of a Challenge to Conjugate How to Conjugate the French Verb 'Participer' ('to Participate') Don't "Conclude" Your French Studies Without Conjugating "Conclure" The Different Past Tenses in French How to "Missed" in French Using "Manquer" How Do You Conjugate "Laver" in French Conjugating "Lever" (Lift, Raise) How Do You Conjugate the French Verb 'Continuer' (to Continue)?