I've noticed a few examples of this in previous reading exercises where the present tense is used to describe the past. Ex "En France c'est Napoléon..." rather than, "En France, c'etait Napoléon...", even in the translation when you click on it translates that phrase in the present as 'In France it was Napoleon'. I can see that the following phrase uses the passé composé so I'm just not quite clear why those two phrases don't have to agree in their tenses?
Reading B1, Listening or Seeing B1
Thank you for your question! It is what we call ‘Le Présent historique’ or ‘historical present’. In French, when narrating historical events or facts, you commonly use ‘Le Présent historique’ whilst in English grammar you would tend to stick to the past tense. It makes the related events more lively.
En 1936, Léon Blum devient Président = in 1936 Léon Blum became President
La foule enragée envahit la Bastille = the furious crowd stormed La Bastille
Napoléon signe la loi sur le Code du Travail = Napoléon signed the decree on the Labour Code
I hope this is helpful.
But I don't think this article is written in the historical present. As Imogen says, the following phrase uses the passé composé.
I think this is specific to "c'est". In English we say "it was X who did something", but in French it's "c'est X". It's more logical than English, perhaps, since it's still true now that X did that.
I think Alan is correct. This is similar to French "Je suis né .. " or "Napoleon est né.. .", not «J'étais né . .» or «Napoleon était né . .». Another example «C'est moi qui ai fait les courses ce matin» whereas in English we would most likely say "It was me who did the shopping this morning".
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