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Degree: Modern Languages (French and German) (Bachelors) - Oxford Alumni University
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|English Literature||GCSE||£18 /hr|
|.MLAT (Modern Languages)||Uni Admissions Test||£25 /hr|
|French Literature||Masters Degree||Pending|
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In French there are three different ways of expressing things which have taken place in the past. It's different to how we do it in English so it can be tricky and confusing to start with. Here I'm just explaining how to use the three forms of the past tense, not how to form them; that's another question entirely!
The first method is what is called the perfect tense or the 'passé composé' in French. This is used to express single actions or events in the past which are now complete. For example:
I went to France - Je suis allé(e) en France
You did this once and now you've finished making the journey to France.
I finished my homework - J'ai fini mes devoirs
You had some homework which you did and now it's finished so it's complete, and you're talking about a single occassion on which you did your homework.
The second method, the impefect tense, or the 'imparfait' in French is used to express repeated actions in the past (this includes the use of 'used to' in English, i.e. 'I used to go to school'; you can't translate this directly into French and must use the imperfect) or to describe things. For example:
We went to France every year - Nous allions en France tous les ans
You went to France every year so you went more than once; therefore it's a repeated action so requires the impefect.
I saw him everyday - Je le voyais tous les jours
You saw him every day so more than once; it therefore requires the imperfect.
When she was young - Quand elle était jeune
My mother was happy - Ma mère était heureuse
These are descriptions so require the imperfect.
You don't really need to worry about the third method that much. The past historic, the 'passé simple' in French, is used in most literary and a few very formal texts. It's not used in modern spoken French so you only need to be able to recognise it in writing; understanding it is very helpful though if you're studying literature as part of your A Level course. Just to show you what some of it looks like, here are a few examples:
The king who lived twice. - Le roi qui vécut deux fois.
They returned home yesterday. - Ils rentrèrent à la maison hier.
It takes time to get it right so keep practising and reading in French!see more
This varies from person to person so it's important to try out lots of different methods and to see what works for you.
German has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter, so when you write down your vocabulary it can be helpful to colour code it by writing the masculine words in blue, the feminine in red, and the neuter in green. Write the plural forms of nouns next to them in a different colour; it's important to learn these too and the use of different colours can help you to remember the genders more easily.
Some people use online vocabulary learning programmes such as Memrise or Anki to test themselves. Others cover up the German and attempt to write it down or say it until they have learnt it. I always find it helpful to learn things in context; I make sentences using the words I have to learn and this helps them stick in my brain. Every time you see or hear a new German word, write it down. This will help you to build up your vocabulary, learn new expressions, and to see how German is actually written and spoken.
Remember that it takes time to learn vocabulary so don't worry if you don't immediately learn a hundred new words. Keep coming back to the ones you've already learnt too to make sure that they stay in your brain.see more