Freeform Writing Exercise B1
- Le Passé Composé is used to express an action that happened in the past and has finished in the present. It is used mainly like that (equivalent to the English simple past).
Hier j’ai mangé des légumes = Yesterday I ate vegetables
Ce matin je me suis lavé la figure = This morning I washed my face
- It can also be used to express a fact that has been true in the past and will always be true into the future. In this instance it is the equivalent to the English present perfect.
J’ai toujours voulu apprendre le français = I have always wanted to learn French
Je me suis toujours entouré(e) de gens merveilleux = I have always been surrounded by wonderful people
Je me suis toujours intéressé(e) aux oiseaux = I have always been interested in birds
I hope this is helpful.
Bonne journée !
To give an example:
J'ai toujours voulu apprendre le français. -- I've always wanted to learn French.Je voulais apprendre le français quand j'étais jeun. -- I wanted to learn French when I was young.
The first sentence talks about something that started in the past and is still true in the present. The second one talks about a state (not a single event) that is over in the past and doesn't extend to the present.
This common and correct usage of passé composé is hard to glean from virtually all the articles I have read on French past tense. Even in the linked article, it is not really clearly explained, other than by looking closely at the list of words mostly triggering imparfait or passé composé : you will see < toujours > sits in both groups, with the distinction of either being completed ( imparfait ), or still true at present ( passé composé ).
And yes, at first, I thought this was contrary to everything else I understood about the 2 tenses ! However, sometimes (often) grammar is not to be understood, just known.
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