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How many Tenses are there in French?

How many tenses are there in French? This is something I am finding it surprisingly difficult to work out.

Also is there somewhere I can see these tenses side by side so that I can compare and learn them? I find that some of the verb endings are so similar I am getting confused!

December 16, 2013




Bear in mind not all of them are actually used every day. I tried to put them in order of importance for you to learn.

Used very often in everyday speech: Indicatif présent, indicatif passé composé, indicatif imparfait, indicatif futur simple; impératif présent; conditionnel présent; subjonctif présent (yes... I know... but to be fair, if you use indicatif instead of subjonctif, we'll still understand you.)

Used often in written texts, sometimes in speech: indicatif passé simple (written form mostly), indicatif plus-que-parfait, indicatif futur antérieur, indicatif passé antérieur (rather found in literature); conditionnel passé 1ère forme; subjonctif passé, subjonctif imparfait (albeit scarcer)

Never used (or really, really scarcely): conditionnel passé 2ème forme; subjonctif plus-que-parfait; impératif passé.

Hope this helps.


yes that helps HUGELY! Thank you! :)


That helps soooooooooo much!!! thx!! here you go you can have a good few lingot.


When would you use the scarcely used verb tenses? Could you just not learn them?


well you can learn them once you have finished learning and consolidating all the other aspects of the language including the first two titles of tenses mentioned by 0liwia and the adjectives, nouns, whatsoever. But it's really up to you

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