MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

813 views

When should I use the passé simple?

The passé simple, or the 'past historic', is a very irregular past tense that is rarely used in spoken French. It indicates a highly literary style, and is therefore only heard in formal speeches, such as those delivered by the President. 

Generally, the passé simple is used exclusively in writing, and specifically in literary writings. French children quickly grow accustomed to it because it is used in storybooks and the like, but they rarely use it themselves. Newspapers used to use the passé simple to recount events, but in recent years the passé composé, or 'perfect tense', has become an increasingly popular option.

In terms of meaning, the passé simple is almost identical to the passé composé. It refers to a completed, non-habitual action performed in the past, and is often used to convey a sequence of finite events. In theory, actions recounted in the passé composé continue to an exert an influence on the present, whereas actions in the passé simple do not; however, in general, the author of a text will either choose between the literary passé simple and the more informal passé composé for stylistic reasons, and then use this tense throughout. 

Rachael S. GCSE History tutor, GCSE Religious Studies tutor, GCSE Eng...

2 years ago

Answered by Rachael, an A Level French tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

105 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Daisy K.

Degree: BMBS Medicine (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:French, Biology

French
Biology

“A friendly and approachable bilingual Medical student who hopes to demonstrate that hard work and motivation can make your dreams a reality.”

£24 /hr

Elise H.

Degree: History (Bachelors) - Newcastle University

Subjects offered:French, Spanish+ 1 more

French
Spanish
History

“Second-year History student at Newcastle University. I teach mainly History, French and Spanish.”

£24 /hr

Tori M.

Degree: French and Spanish (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:French, Spanish+ 2 more

French
Spanish
Maths
Extended Project Qualification

“Enthusiastic and open-minded approach to learning. Extensive tutoring experience.”

About the author

Rachael S.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: French and Spanish (Bachelors) - Cambridge University

Subjects offered:French, Spanish+ 6 more

French
Spanish
Religious Studies
History
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature
-Personal Statements-

“Second year languages student at the University of Cambridge, offering high quality tuition in a wide range of subject areas!”

You may also like...

Other A Level French questions

"I don't understand how to use the French subjunctive. Could you explain it for me?"

How to stop making mood mistake after "que" in frenchstop making mood mistake after "que" in french

How and when do I use the French past historic?

When do I use the subjunctive?

View A Level French tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok