Recognising 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)!

 

See the matching lesson: Recognising faire in Le Passé Simple

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

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


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


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


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.


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


Q&A Forum 6 questions, 10 answers

JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

passé simple

when do we use the passé simple and not the imparfait ?

thank you.

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Jennifer,

The passé simple describes a completed past event and is only used nowadays in written French, it is the equivalent of the spoken passé composé.

Here are examples using both tenses in written form -

Marie ouvrit le frigo pour voir ce qu'il y avait dedans = Marie opened the fridge to see what was in it 

She opened the fridge ( completed event) there was ... (description or a state of being) 

Jacques ferma la porte pendant qu'il parlait = Jack closed the door whilst he was speaking 

Jacques closed the door ( completed event), he was speaking ( action in duration)

Hope this helps!

SaidC1Kwiziq community member

Hi Jennifer,

"Imparfait" is used to indicate actions that were in progress in the past no matter if the action is at its beginning or progression.

"Passé simple" is used to indicate a completed action in the past, which does not have present results.

Sometimes, "Imparfait" can do the job of "Passé simple" if we are talking about historical events as documentary presenters often do.

I.E., American shuttle landed on the moon.

La sonde américaine atterrissait sur la lune. (Imparfait)

La sonde américaine atterrit sur la lune. (Passé simple)

Note that we will never use "passé simple" to talk about action in progress in past.

passé simple

when do we use the passé simple and not the imparfait ?

thank you.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AlisonB2Kwiziq community member

Is this lesson exactly the same as the one in B2?

Asked 8 months ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Alison !

The lessons entitled "Recognising Le Passé Simple" such as this one are indeed at B2 level. They only test recognising the forms of specific verbs in that literary tense, whereas the more advanced C1 lessons teach how to conjugate in Le Passé Simple.

I hope that's helpful!

Bonne journée !

AlisonB2Kwiziq community member

Thank you

Is this lesson exactly the same as the one in B2?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Passé simple and passé composé mixed in literature?

 I am reading "Le Petit Prince" and noticed that sometimes, passé composé is used in the description (NOT the dialogue)  instead of passé simple. In simple sentences like "J'ai ainsi vécu seul" and "J'ai vu un petit bonhomme tout à fait extraordinaire". 

There are instances where you can (or *have to*???) use passé composé in literature? I can't find any pattern so can someone explain this to me?  

Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Michelle,

This is well spotted and I hope you are enjoying ‘Le Petit Prince’ which, I think is a delight...

In literature the rules are different and authors use different methods to stand out from the rest, the use of tenses in the narrative being one of them.

This is what I have retained from my literary studies at Warwick University (a few decades ago) :

Up to the 19th century, I believe that the passé simple would have been used to describe events and Flaubert was the  first  author to try and break the mould. Modern authors can even use narratives in the present tense which can sound very strange but all done for effect...

Going back to the Petit Prince, I remember the line “ S’il te plaît , monsieur , dessine-moi un mouton “ which is incorrect as you wouldn’t use the ‘tu’ form with ‘monsieur’ ..that’s probably why it stuck in my mind and all done for effect...

Hope this helps!

MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Ah, a literature thing.  I'm just glad to hear that there are no rules for me to remember here, just books to enjoy.

Now that I think of it, music does it too. Like the famous famous Champs Elysées song--> "N'importe qui et ce fut toi, je t'ai dit n'importe quoi". Though I never really wondered about this until I started reading "Le Petit Prince". 

This is the first time I am reading this book in any language (though I always heard of it) and yes, so far, it is a delightful, creative little story.

That line seemed a bit like a "kid mistake" to me. I live in a formal and non formal you culture and sometimes little kids, when excited and speaking quickly, will slip up and say things like "You know?" (in the informal, tu equivalent) to say, a teacher. Though he is likely not that young of a child (if he is a child at all). But it does all play into this strange little creature just not knowing how to interact with people and the world because he lived alone on his planet all that time. 

Passé simple and passé composé mixed in literature?

 I am reading "Le Petit Prince" and noticed that sometimes, passé composé is used in the description (NOT the dialogue)  instead of passé simple. In simple sentences like "J'ai ainsi vécu seul" and "J'ai vu un petit bonhomme tout à fait extraordinaire". 

There are instances where you can (or *have to*???) use passé composé in literature? I can't find any pattern so can someone explain this to me?  

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

MintooC1Kwiziq community member

Could you please elaborate on the difference between the usage of Le Passé Composé and Passé Simple

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Mintoo,

this question has been elaborated on many times already. There are great examples and discussions on this topic on the internet, if you google the question. I suspect these are more helpful than my reposting what has already been said several times. 

Try these for a start:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passé_simple

https://french.stackexchange.com/questions/9/différence-entre-le-passé-simple-et-le-passé-composé

 

-- Chris. 

Could you please elaborate on the difference between the usage of Le Passé Composé and Passé Simple

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

RayanB2Kwiziq community member

Why not use the limparfait?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Rayan, 

the imparfait and the passé simple serve two different purposes. The former is used in situations where you either describe an ongoing, repeated action or a kind of setting in which the focus of the narrative takes place. 

The latter, however, describes an action in the past which is completely contained in the past and is used to relate an action or the main thread of a narrative. Usually you'd be considering passé composé in this context, but in a higher register of the language (usually written or literary French) the passé simple is used. 

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

Why not use the limparfait?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

LolaA1Kwiziq community member

comment est-ce qu'on utilise le passe' simple?

Asked 4 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Lola, On l'utilise exactement comme le passé composé, sauf que le passé simple se trouve seulement à l'écrit, comme dans la littérature et le journalisme. Voyez https://www.french-test.com/my-languages/french/glossary/49
LolaA1Kwiziq community member
Merci beaucoup, maintenant je comprend le diffe'rence entre les deux

comment est-ce qu'on utilise le passe' simple?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Clever stuff underway!