Marie Curie

Ready for two minutes of women's history? Listen to French kids talking about renowned scientist Marie Curie in this cute video. Below, you'll find the transcript in our bilingual reader: click any French phrase for the English translation and related grammar lessons.

Note: The tenses in this French article and its English translation don't match! In French, we use the present and future tenses to describe historical stories like this to evoke a sense of immediacy, whereas in English, we commonly use the past tense - learn more about historical French tenses.

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Q&A relating to this exercise 1 question, 1 answer

LorieC1Kwiziq community member

Present versus future tense

I'm noticing that most verb tenses in this passage are in the present tense. I'm wondering if there's a general rule about when to use the present versus the future tense in this kind of historical account. I see one sentence that says "Plus tard, elle aura son diplome en sciences physiques..." Given that the sentence starts with "plus tard," it makes sense to me that the following verb is in the future tense, but later in the passage I'm seeing "Plus tard, en 1911, Marie recoit le Prix Nobel..." In this case "plus tard" is followed by the present tense. I'm wondering if the choice of tense is stylistic or if there is a subtle difference in meaning or how does one decide which tense is appropriate? Thanks in advance for your help!

Asked 11 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

It is stylistic. Using the present tense, you take the reader to that time, thereby decreasing the perceived distance between the event and the reader. With future tense you remain in the present and point at something that's happening later, in the future. The perceived temporal distance is larger.

Present versus future tense

I'm noticing that most verb tenses in this passage are in the present tense. I'm wondering if there's a general rule about when to use the present versus the future tense in this kind of historical account. I see one sentence that says "Plus tard, elle aura son diplome en sciences physiques..." Given that the sentence starts with "plus tard," it makes sense to me that the following verb is in the future tense, but later in the passage I'm seeing "Plus tard, en 1911, Marie recoit le Prix Nobel..." In this case "plus tard" is followed by the present tense. I'm wondering if the choice of tense is stylistic or if there is a subtle difference in meaning or how does one decide which tense is appropriate? Thanks in advance for your help!

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