Memorizing French Tenses – Review and Self-Test

If given a matrix to complete, of all eight tenses, could you recall and use the memory keys to fill in the matrix?

Tense

Translation Je Tu

Il/Elle

Past Conditional
Pluperfect
Passé Composé
Imperfect
Present
Future
Conditional
Future Perfect

Tense

Translation Nous Vous

Ils/Elles

Past Conditional
Pluperfect
Passé Composé
Imperfect
Present
Future
Conditional
Future Perfect

For learning present tense, you should simply practice a lot. This site allows you to do just that:

http://www.listeningpractice.org/conjugator.php

Note: Answers to test follow….scroll down to see how you did (but don’t cheat)

This was my personal attempt. I focused on some standard memorization (present tense) but also worked on  knowing my mnemonic phrases and the way each mnemonic phrase visually keys everything I need to recall the conjugations. BTW, I threw in a few extra tenses:

Future (futur simple) – The future will be infinity and bey-on-d!

future-option

Past Future/Future Perfect (futur anterieur) – The past and future will have a perfect EZ aura. Que sera, sera.

past-future1

Pluperfect/Past Perfect (plus-que-parfait) – Ava had flown Avions to the EU, and the ETA was pluperfect, EZ and convenient.

past-perfect

Past Simple (passé  simple) – Simple paid past-times, test a rented SST

past-simple

Imperfect (imparfait) – She was eating a parfait, it is imperfect, how I-ronic.

imperfect1

Present Perfect (passé composé) – A composer says, “I have spoken!”, to his Avon selling son.

present-perfect

Past Conditional/Conditional Perfect (conditionnel parfait) – Laura is conditionally perfect in the past.

conditional-perfect1

Present Conditional (conditionnel present) – Ain’t present conditions Infinite and EZ!

conditional-present1

A lot can be learned by doing this exercise. You may have noticed that past tenses and perfect tenses, contain a past participle. Imperfect does not, and neither do future tenses. Why would they? It’s past participle. You may argue that future perfect shouldn’t, but there is an element of the past in this tense, so it makes sense to me.

Tense

Translation Je Tu

Il/Elle

Past Conditional would have spoken j’aurais parlé tu aurais parlé il aurait parlé
Pluperfect had spoken j’avais parlé tu avais parlé il avait parlé
Passé Composé have spoken j’ais parlé tu as parlé il a parlé
Imperfect was speaking, spoke je parlais tu parlais il parlait
Present speak je parle tu parles il parle
Future will speak je parlerai tu parleras il parlera
Conditional would speak je parlerais tu parlerais il parlerait
Future Perfect will have spoken j’aurai parlé tu auras parlé il aura parlé

Tense

Translation Nous Vous

Ils/Elles

Past Conditional would have spoken nous aurions parlé vous auriez parlé ils auraient parlé
Pluperfect had spoken nous avions parlé vous aviez parlé ils avaient parlé
Passé Composé have spoken nous avons parlé vous avez parlé ils ont parlé
Imperfect was speaking, spoke nous parlions vous parliez ils parlaient
Present speak nous parlons vous parlez ils parlent
Future will speak nous parlerons vous parlerez ils parleront
Conditional would speak nous parlerions vous parleriez ils parleraient
Future Perfect will have spoken nous aurons parlé vous aurez parlé ils auront parlé

I hope these mnemonics have helped or inspired you to create your own. If I was allowed to bring one piece of paper into a real French test, I would have these visual mnemonics on one side, and the overview…

frenchtenses171 (2)

french-tense-timeline

on the other side. Another way viewing these visual mnemonics, next to an actual conjugation page, would look like this:

Tense Matching

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