When learning French, recognising Le Passé Simple (Indicatif) is very important as it is used in literature and other French writings.
Learn to recognise -er verbs and aller Le Passé Simple (Indicatif) in French
Look at these examples:
Un jour, j'arrivai dans un petit village.One day, I arrived in a tiny village.
Quand tu rencontras Sarah, elle avait dix-huit ans.When you met Sarah, she was eighteen.
Alors, le chevalier libéra la princesse.Then, the knight freed the princess.
On se reposa ensuite pendant quelques heures.We then relaxed for a few hours.
Ce jour-là, nous allâmes tous au château.That day, we all went to the castle.
Vous et vos amis dansâtes toute la nuit.You and your friends danced all night.
Les compagnons s'arrêtèrent pour la nuit.The companions stopped for the night.
To conjugate -er verbs in le Passé Simple, here is what to do:
Stem of the verb (without -ER) + endings: -ai, -as, -a, -âmes, -âtes, -èrent
You can notice that the endings of the je/tu/il/elle/on forms (-ai, -as, -a) are the same as the Futur endings.
The difference between the two tenses is that in le Futur, you keep the infinitive as the stem
(e.g. je parler-ai), or use an irregular stem for aller (j'ir-ai), whereas in le Passé Simple, you remove the -ER from the stem (e.g. je parl-ai).
Pronunciation: The tricky part here is that the je form (j'arrivai) has the same pronunciation as the Imperfect form (j'arrivais). However, le Passé Simple being an almost exclusively written form, this shouldn't be an obstacle to conversation!
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