Lesson Transcript

Hey, guys! This is Pierre from France. Today’s lesson, we will target the present tense. So you know in French, you’ve got a lot of tense and the most basic one is the présent “present”. Although, the name is quite explicit and quite similar to the English word and the English tense, we need to explain to you some subtleties, some nuances that are happening with the usage of the present tense. So first, we will target the usage, then I will show how to form it and then we will do some exercise, to be sure that you understood everything.
So let’s get started with the usage. So here, you can see five different usages. So the first one is current actions. So, like in English, when you want to explain an action that is being done, you use present.
So here, first example - Je mange du pain. Here, the verb is in red, mange, je mange du pain. In English, you can translate that by… you can use, “I am eating bread / I eat bread” Je mange du pain. So here, one way to translate that is to use the present in English as well, but also, you can use the progressive one, I am eating, I am eating bread. So, this is current actions. In English, you can use present or progressive present, but in French, it’s generally just present.
Here, you’ve got another example - Il a faim. “He is hungry.” Il a faim. The verb here, avoir, a, present. So, basically here, you’re expressing a feeling. So, for a feeling, you usually just use the present, so that’s current actions or current feelings.
So here, what you’re doing, “I’m eating bread” je mange du pain, you use present or Il a faim “I am hungry”, this is my feeling, this is the current action, the action of feeling something. So, this is present. So I think this is quite similar to the English one. So, this is something really simple for you to understand. Remember, that in many different situations, you translate progressive present with a simple present in French. So this was the first one for current actions.
Then, you’ve got another one which is when an action has started before, but still underway. So basically here - Je fais du tennis depuis 10 ans. “I have been playing tennis for 10 years.” So here, the tense that you use in English is not present. This is to be doing something. You use, to be doing something, “I have been playing tennis for 10 years.” Je fais du tennis depuis 10 ans. Here, this is présent. Présent, je fais. So like, you’re not doing actually tennis, like you’re not currently playing tennis, but for 10 years, you’ve been regularly doing some tennis, so you use and you’re still doing it, so you use, présent “present”, je fais. So this is an action that started, but still underway. So here, you started before, but you’re still doing it. So, this is something that can be translated. Present is a way to translate to be doing something in French.
Then, you’ve got true facts.
Il s'appelle Pierre. So, this is my name, Pierre - Il s'appelle Pierre. “My name is Pierre / His name is Pierre.” here, his name is Pierre. This is true - Il s'appelle Pierre. This is a fact that is true, so we use present here.
But here is like something that is, like general like a general truth - La Terre tourne autour du soleil. “The Earth revolves around the sun.” So, this is true and you need to use present to express that. And in English as well, you use present. So, this is similar for facts, true facts, you use present like in English.
Then, the next one is habits. When you want to express a habit that you have, you need to use the present in French. For example, if you are a vegetarian and you want to say that you only eat vegetables, you can say - Je ne mange que des legumes. “I only eat vegetables.”, legumes “vegetables”, “I only eat vegetables.” So here, that’s a habit that you have, like when you eat, it’s always vegetables. So here, you use present - Je ne mange que des legumes.
Another example is - Chaque lundi, je vais au cinema. “Every Monday, you go to cinema.” You go to the theater. So here - chaque lundi, je vais au cinema, this is a habit that you have, so you need to use present. This is an action that you do regularly. Here, every Monday. Chaque lundi, je vais au cinema. “Every Monday, I go to the theater.” So, this is a habit.
And the last one is actions about to happen. If you want to say that you will arrive at 2pm, in English, you use “will arrive”, but you can also say “I arrived at 2pm”. In French, this is more common to use just present. So, if you want to say that you want to underpin that the action is really about to happen like it means you will really arrive soon, you can just drop the future and use the present - J'arrive vers 14h “I will arrive at 2pm” or literally “I arrived at 2pm”. You can also use the future here, but when you use the present, it means like it’s really about to happen, so that’s something that is almost done.
Another example here is - Je regarde un dernier episode puis je dors. So here, you’ve got two verbs that are in present, Je regarde un dernier episode puis je dors. So, “I watch one last episode and then I go to sleep.” So here, it’s present, but you’d still haven’t watched your episode yet - Je regarde un dernier episode “I’m about to watch one more episode” and then I will go to bed. But here, because you want to… you’re about to start, but you still haven’t started yet, you use present - Je regarde un dernier episode puis je dors. Here again, when you say you use the present, it means okay, I’m soon going to go to bed, just one last episode. So, this is like really about to happen as well. So for the two verbs, you use present.
So you’ve got five different kind of usages; current actions, actions that has started, but are still underway, true facts, habits, and actions about to happen. This is likely different from English, so be sure to understand the difference. Basically, when you use, “I had been playing / I had been doing something”, usually in French, it’s translated with present. And when you say, “I am doing something”, I am eating, for example, in most of the cases, you will translate in French with something in present, a verb in present, “I am eating” je mange, but it’s not always the case, but that’s like kind of a tendency. So, you’ve got this pattern and this pattern that are sometimes translated into English. So in most cases, you will use English present and French present in the same situations. But sometimes, you’ve got some differences, as you can see here, to be doing something, here, it’s present, or to have been doing something, here, again, it’s present. And sometimes, the will, like for the future is dropped. So “I will arrive”, just j'arrive. So, be careful with that and remember all those usages.
Now, let’s move on, on how to form that. The first thing that you need to know when you learn the difference between all the forms in French is the groups. So you know that there are four different groups; the first group, the second group, the third group and then the auxiliaries. So, I’m going to explain it once again.
The first group is all the verbs ending with -ER. So here, you’ve got an example, “to walk” marche. It’s a verb from the first group, words ending with -ER.
Then you’ve got the second group with verbs ending with -IR, but it’s not all the verbs ending with -IR, some of them are in the third group, so be careful, but most of them are in the second group.
And then you’ve got the irregular verbs that are all the other verbs and they are like really tricky because you need to learn by heart how to change their form. So that’s kind of a pain, but you really need to know that because it’s usually made of really common verbs like pouvoir “to be able to” or vouloir “to want”, you need to learn those. So, this is something that you need to be careful; first group, second group, third group. And sometimes, verb ending with -IR are also in the third group. And then, you’ve got the two auxiliaries. The two auxiliaries in French are avoir and être “to have” and “to be”.
So here is the conjugation, the different forms for all of the verbs, all of the categories and for the present only. So here, what is good with the first two categories, the first two groups, is it’s regular, you’ve got no exceptions. So, here is the verb marcher “to walk”; je - marche, E at the end; tu - marches, ES at the end; ils/elles - marche, E at the end; nous - marchons, ONS at the end; vous - marchez, EZ; and then ils/elles - marchent, ENT. So what you need to do is just get rid of the ending, the -ER, and you add always the same ending. So this is really simple. Be sure to learn all those endings and you will be able to do the changement for the form for all the verbs of this group.
And then, this is similar in the second group, except, the ending is a bit different. So here, if we take this verb, finir “to finish”, you’ve got finis, finis, finit with a T, finissons, finissez, finissent. So here, be sure to check the S, the S and the T and then those differences. And if you know the verb, you know it’s a second group, you just get rid of the -IR and you add the correct ending depending on the subject. So, that’s how you do that. And then, be careful once again, some verbs ending with -IR are from irregular verbs group, so be careful, you need to know that.
And, I’m not going to explain all the irregularities because otherwise, it would be too long, but here are the two auxiliaries and you really need to know them. So here, it’s for the present, j’ai, here because it’s starting with a vowel, you get rid of the E. Then tu as, il/elle a, nous avons, vous avez, ils/elles ont.
And then for the verb “to be” suis; je suis, tu es, il/elle est, nous sommes, vous êtes and ils/elles sont. So this is what you need to remember for the present and then learn the irregular verbs. So this is really simple, like this is the easiest tense in French and this is the most common one. So, basically, we’re all lucky for that. So, just remember all those endings.
And now, let’s do some practice because it’s always good after a lesson to practice. So, here are three different sentences with a gap here and I want you to complete with the verbs in blue here.
So here, you’ve got tu and then the verb pleurer, it means “to cry”, and then pour un rien. So, can you try by yourself to complete? I’m going to show you the answer after showing you all the examples.
So here, il… something, the verb guérir “to cure / to heal”, plus vite que ce que je pensais. Il… plus vite que ce que je pensais.
And then the last one, je, the verb “to be” être, toujours le dernier.
So, if you have difficulties to understand the meaning of the sentences, I’m going to translate that into English.
Tu ... pour un rien. “You’re crying for nothing.”
Then the second is, “He is healing faster than I was expecting.”
And then the last one, “I am always the last one.”
So here, you’ve got the three verbs, try it by yourself and then, I will show you the answers.
Okay, so the answers are...pleurer, pleurer ends with -ER so it’s first group. So, the subject is tu, tu, -ES so you just get rid of -ER and you add -ES and you’ve got pleures - Tu pleures pour un rien. “You cry for nothing.”
Then, guérir, guérir, -IR. Luckily, this is a second group verb, so you just check the subject, il, il, you see here, -IT, so this is - guérit, you get rid of the -IT and you add… you get rid of the -IR and you add -IT here.
And the last one, verb, être, here, je être toujours le dernier. Je, subject, here, verb, so je suis toujours le dernier.
So, I’m going to repeat once again…
Tu pleures pour un rien. “You cry for nothing.”
Il guérit plus vite que ce que je pensais. “He is healing faster than I was expecting.”
Je suis toujours le dernier. “I’m always the last one.”
So, this was the first exercise. The second one might be a bit more difficult. I want you to translate the sentence from English to French.
So here, “She has been playing piano for 10 years.”
And the second one, maybe a bit more difficult - “Whenever I get late, I feel bad.”
So the first one, “She has been playing piano for 10 years.”, it’s using a pattern that we’ve seen before. Do you remember? Okay, so now, I’m going to show you the answers.
“She has been playing piano for 10 years.” Elle joue du piano depuis dix ans. So here, you’ve got the verb that is playing...“playing” joue, present. Joue is first-group verb, so you just take this subject. You see it’s E, so you add E at the end.
And then the last one, “Whenever I get late, I feel bad.”, the translation is - A chaque fois que je suis en retard. So here, there is a space, je m'en sens mal. So here, there are two verbs; get late and feel bad. So “get late” is être en retard, être… en retard. So it’s like to be late, the literal translation of “to be late”, suis en retard, suis en, here. And then, “I feel bad”. In French, the translation for “to feel good / to feel bad”, it’s se sentir mal. So here, you take the transformation. The subject is I, I, and then sentir, sentir is irregular so you need to know how to form it and this is this. This form is sentir.
So, this one was a bit more difficult, so be sure to check all the irregular verbs. That’s really important for you if you want to master all the common verbs in French because the most common verbs are irregular. That’s a pity, but you really need to learn that.
So, let’s sum it up. So here, we’ve seen the usage, so five different usages; when this is the current actions; when you started the action, but it’s still underway; and also when you’ve got like true facts; and habits; and then, actions that are about to happen. It still hasn’t happened yet, but it’s really close to be done like it’s about to happen.
And then, you need to remember, all those different endings so for the two groups. For the two main verbs, avoir and être and then learn the irregular verbs, that’s really important.
Well, if you remember all that, present tense is really easy for you now. So, I really hope that you like it.
That’s all for today’s lesson. See you next time guys. Bye! Au revoir!

8 Comments

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FrenchPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Ram
Friday at 05:14 AM
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Very nice lesson by Pierre.👍

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 12:16 AM
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Bonjour Anh,

Verbs ending in -re (ie. 3rd group verbs) are often irregular, which is the case of most, if not all, 3rd group verbs. For those, I would recommend looking up each verb conjugation individually to make sure that you learn the correct irregular form. There's no universal conjugation in this case, which is why the teacher didn't say anything about it.


To check how to conjugate a verb, I would recommend using "la conjugaison nouvelobs" (just type this in your search engine), they have very detailed sheets for each verb!


Hope this helps 😄


Bonne journée,

Marion

Team FrenchPod101.com

Anh Pham
Sunday at 11:27 AM
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What about verbs that end in -re?

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 09:29 PM
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Hi Alvaro,


Great to have you here!


Please stay tuned, as we'll have new lessons for you every week! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask us.


Cheers,

Cristiane

Team FrenchPod101.com

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 05:34 PM
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Hello mknmn


Thank you for the cute emoticons!

We hope you liked the lesson!

Let us know if you have any question.


Cheers,

Igor

Team FrenchPod101.com

mknmn
Wednesday at 12:02 PM
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😄

Alvaro Ramirez Aguayo
Wednesday at 04:02 AM
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You helped me to realize that to conjugate in french does not really differ from the conjugation in Italian and Spanish. You are also a great teacher, and wish to be able to speak French as well as you do. I am a student here in Los Angeles and am utilizing all the resources that i can find to better my language learning skills. So with that said, i just want to say that you have been of great help and i hope to see more of your lessons!! Merci ami! Au revoir!