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French verb tenses

I am having an awful time sorting out and remembering all the verb tenses in French. I have been practicing over an hour a day for eight months, keep my tree gold, did the French to English course and keep that tree gold as well and ran through both courses on the app as well as the web version. I just can’t seem to keep it all straight in my head when it comes to the verb tenses. Does anyone know of any other really good sources where I can learn this?

January 11, 2018



You have worked very hard, and made tremendous progress in a short time, bravo!

I think you are right that it isn't easy to learn the verb tenses with Duo alone. It isn't set up to practice writing a verb in all of the tenses, but rather to translate sentences.

This isn't going to sound very fun, I'm afraid, but to help make the verb tenses stick in your mind, I recommend a notebook and pen to practice writing them down. Pick one tense, such as imparfait, and practice conjugating the verbs from each of the three groups, -er, -ir, and irregular. Spend a week or two on just one tense and carve out 10-15 minutes a day conjugating that tense. Studies have shown that the act of physically writing notes is better for memory retrieval than just typing them on a computer.

Even native French speakers have to practice writing the tenses in school to learn them "par cœur," it isn't intuitive. Once you feel comfortable with a tense, pick another one. Soon you will have a feel for the patterns and it will get easier and easier.

Secondly, I recommend investing in a good grammar book. This is one, Easy French Step by Step is good one to start with since the chapters are broken up into a logical sequence and there are a lot of practice opportunities.

Best of luck!


I was going to suggest exactly that, there is no other way around it I'm afraid.


In addition to everything CommeuneTexane wrote, which is really the best way, it helps to understand how french verbs are grouped. Regular verbs are grouped into three caregories, verbs ending with er, ir, and re. I would suggest memorizing one or two verbs from each category in all it’s forms for each tense. Once you know how to congugate one or two verbs from each category you will able to apply the formula to most other verbs you meet. (Accept irregular verbs) You will see the patterns. Irregular verbs unfortunately must be memorized. While I agree pen and paper is the best method, or que cards, there are some good sights online where you can look up conjugation tables and also train specific verbs and tenses. Just google french conjugations training. If you do purchase any book I suggest you buy a Becherelle, it is a verb conjugation dictionary with tables for all verbs sorted by ending, and irregular verbs. It is a very useful resourse. You can find similar resources online, but having a bescheral really let’s you see how the verbs are grouped. Lastly, after all this hard work, read in french, the more you read, the more you will internalise. Bonne chance!

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