Created using FigmaCreated using Figma

Conjugate être in Le Passé Simple

Look at être in le Passé Simple:

A ce moment, je fus si stupéfait que je partis sur le champ!
At that moment, I was so stunned that I left immediately!

Quand tu quittas le poste de police, tu fus enfin soulagé.
When you left the police station, you were finally relieved.

Soudain, le monstre fut sur lui.
Suddenly, the monster was upon him.

Après des jours et des jours de voyage, nous fûmes heureux de voir notre village.
After days and days of travel, we were happy to see our village.

Quand vous apprîtes la nouvelle, vous ne fûtes pas surpris.
When you heard the news, you were not surprised.

Ils furent escortés jusqu'au roi par sa garde personnelle. 
They were escorted to the king by his personal guard.


To conjugate être in le Passé Simple, here is what to do:

'f-' + endings: -us, -us, -ut, -ûmes, -ûtes, -urent


ATTENTION: It's easy to confuse je fus (être) with je fis (faire)!

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Micro kwiz: Conjugate être in Le Passé Simple
Loading your Kwiz



Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016

2 replies

Passé simple vs. Imparfait

"During that time, I was very busy." is translated using le Passé simple. However, would not l'Imparfait be more appropriate here, given that it is a statement about a longer period of time? -- Chris.


Kwiziq language super star

4 November 2016


Bonjour Chris !

I understand your point, and it makes perfect sense, but the use of Le Passé Simple here is still a correct option. It's all a question of point of view and the difficulty of the "être" cases.
- If you said "Durant cette période, j'étais très occupé.", you are in effect considering that period in its duration, insisting on the length of time during which you 'were in the process of' being busy.
- But if you said "Durant cette période, je fus très occupé." or indeed "Durant cette période, j'ai été très occupé." (as Le Passé Composé and Le Passé Simple have similar nuances), you are talking about an event (you being busy over that period) as one over and done, taking its place in a succession of other past events now ended.
In short, both L'Imparfait or Le Passé Simple, even Le Passé Composé, could be acceptable in this sentence, depending on the focus you're choosing.

I hope that this explanation makes the distinction a bit clearer :)
Merci et à bientôt !


Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016


Thanks for the detailed explanation. I do understand that the proper translation depends on emphasis and context. It just didn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling having just learned that l'Imparfait is used for long durations. Thanks again, -- Chris.
Let me take a look at that...