Verbs – Mettre

It’s been a few months since I’ve done a verbs post. This verb mettre is quite important in French!

mettre – to put, to set, to place, to put on (clothing), to wear

mettre quelque chose (à) – to put something (at/to)

  • Où est-ce que tu as mis les clés de la voiture ? | Where did you put the car keys?
  • Attention de ne pas mettre ta main dans la machine. | Be careful not to put your hand in the machine.
  • Elle a mis sa plus belle robe. | She put on her most beautiful dress.
  • J’ai mis une bouteille de champagne au frais. | I put a bottle of champagne on ice.
  • Je crois qu’il est temps de les mettre au travail. | I think that it’s time to put them to work.
  • Avez-vous l’intention de mettre Christophe à la tête de l’entreprise ? | Do you plan to put Christophe at the head of the company?
  • Peux-tu mettre le nouveau au courant ? | Can you fill in the new person on what he has to do?

mettre à + infinitif – to put, take + infinitive

  • Il a mis des mois à répondre à notre lettre. | He took months to answer our letter.
  • J’ai mis du temps à admettre que j’avais tort. | I took my time to admit that I was wrong.
  • Mettre la viande à rôtir à petit feu. | Put the meat in the oven on low heat.

mettre quelque chose en quelque chose – to put something in something

  • Pourriez-vous mettre ce texte en espagnol ? | Could you put this text into Spanish?
  • Debussy a mis en musique des poèmes de Mallarmé. | Debussy wrote music for some of Mallarmé’s poems.

se mettre à quelque chose + infinitif – to get started on something/to start + infinitive

  • Vous avez cinq minutes pour vous mettre à la tâche. | You have five minutes to get to work.
  • Brigitte s’est mise à la guitare. | Brigitte has taken up the guitar.
  • L’oiseau s’est mise à chanter sans raison apparente. | The bird started singing for no obvious reason.
  • Quand ils se sont mis à se disputer, j’ai quitté la salle. | When they started arguing, I left the room.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !



Use of the Pluperfect and Past Anterior

Both the pluperfect and the past anterior correspond to the English pluperfect, “I had done/I had been doing”. That is to say that they refer to an action which happened at a point in the past earlier than that referred to by the previous or subsequent verb in the past historic or perfect.

  • Il s’était déjà installé quand je suis arrivé. | He had already settled in when I arrived.
  • Aussitôt qu’il fut parti, elle nous téléphona. | As soon as he had left, she telephoned us.

In some cases, English may use the preterite in place of the pluperfect, but French always uses the pluperfect/past anterior to denote the appropriate time sequence.

  • Lundi j’ai retrouvé le dossier que vous aviez préparé l’année dernière. | On Monday I came across the file which you prepared/had prepared last year.

In spoken French, only the pluperfect, not the past anterior, is used. Because the past anterior uses the past historic to form the auxiliary, it is associated with formal written French. It should be used in formal written French in place of the pluperfect if the following circumstances all apply:

  • you would otherwise use the pluperfect, referring to a single completed action in the past (not a repeated habitual action)
  • the main narrative tense of the passage is the past historic (not the perfect)
  • the clause which requires the past anterior is introduced by one of the following time conjunctions: aussitôt que/ dès que (as soon as), après que (after), à peine que (hardly), quand/lorsque (when):
    • Dès qu‘il eut annoncé sa décision de vendre la maison, des agents immobiliers s’empressèrent de le contacter.
      • As soon as he had announced his decision to sell the house, estate agents rushed to make contact with him.
    • A peine se fut-elle couchée que le bruit recommença.
      • Hardly had she gone to bed when the noise started again.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Future and Future Perfect

Going further on the topic of the future perfect.

Forms of the future and future perfect

The future tense of regular verbs is formed from the infinitive (dropping the final -e in the case of -dre conjugation) + the endings -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont.

The future perfect of all verbs is formed from the future of the auxiliary verb (avoir or être) + the past participle.

Uses of the future and future perfect tenses

The use of the future and future perfect tenses is broadly similar to the use of the future (I shall / You will do) and future perfect (I shall have done / You will have done) in English.

In addition, the future/future perfect must be used in French in a time clause which is dependent upon a main clause in the future tense. This “logical” or “disguised” future replaces the use of the present or perfect in English.

  • Quand vous viendrez à Paris, on pourra visiter le Musée d’Orsay.
    • When you come to Paris (literally: when you will come), we’ll be able to visit the Musée d’Orsay.
  • Tu pourras sortir quand tu auras fini tes devoirs.
    • You’ll be able to go out when you have finished (literally: when you will have finished) your homework.

Note that this use of the disguised or logical future does not apply after avant que and jusqu’à ce que – both of which require the subjunctive – or after si.

One particular use of the future in French is as a formal but polite alternative to the imperative. This is associated with giving a person advice or instructions.

  • Quand vous arriverez au premier carrefour, vous tournerez à gauche, et ensuite vous prendrez la deuxième rue à droite.
    • When you get to the crossroads, turn left and take the second road on the right.

The future can also be used to express a hypothesis of which you are confident. This can be used to translate the English “must be” in supposition.

  • Quelqu’un veut me parler. Ce sera mon frère.
    • Someone wants to talk to me. It must be my brother.

See you all next week!

Merci à vous !


Uses of the Imperfect

The French imperfect corresponds to the English form “was/were doing”. It is used, like the English form, to describe a continuous state in the past.

  • Le soleil brillait et la mer était très calme.
  • The sun was shining and the sea was very calm.

It is also used to record an action which “was happening” at the same time as another action, or when another action intervened.

  • Nous prenions un café alors qu’on a frappé à la port.
  • We were having a coffee when someone knocked on the door.

Since the imperfect conveys this idea of simultaneity, it is used after conjunctions such as comme, or pendant que (even where English uses the simple past).

  • Comme il fermait le robinet il remarqua une fuite d’eau.
  • As he turned off/was turning off the tap, he noticed water dripping.

A second use of the imperfect is to record repeated or habitual actions in the past. This corresponds to the English form “used to” (or “would”).

  • Quand je faisais mes études, je me couchais assez tard.
  • When I was studying, I used to/would go to bed quite late.

I hope you all have a great week!

A bientôt !


Verbs – Blesser

I haven’t done a verbs post in awhile, and this one is also a faux amis! Blesser in French does not translate to to bless, it translates to to hurt.

blesser quelqu’un à/dans quelque chose | to hurt, wound somebody in something

  • Ses remarques m’ont beaucoup blessée. | Her remarks hurt me deeply.
  • Le coup de feu l’a blessé à la jambe. | The gunshot wounded him in the leg.
  • Hélène est surtout blessée dans son amour-propre. | Helen’s pride was hurt more than anything else.
  • Il a été gravement blessé dans un accident de chasse. | He was severely injured in a hunting accident.

blesser de quelque chose | to hurt with something

  • Il a blessé son frère d’un coup de fusil. | He wounded his brother with a rifle shot.

se blesser (à quelque chose) | to hurt oneself (somewhere)

  • Ne touche pas ce couteau. Tu vas te blesser. | Don’t touch this knife. You are going to hurt yourself.
  • Éric se blesse facilement. | Eric hurts himself easily.
  • Paul s’est blessé au menton en se rasant. | Paul cut his chin while shaving.

se blesser avec quelque chose | to hurt oneself with something

  • Elle s’est blessée avec une lame e rasoir. | She hurt herself with a razor blade.

A la prochaine…


Modified Infinitive Forms in the Future Tense

Several verbs have modified infinitive forms in the future tense. These verbs have the same endings as the verbs shown in this post. The je form is given as a model for the entire conjugation except in the case of pleuvoir, which is used only in third-person form.

Verbs ending in -oir lose the oi in the future tense.

  • recevoir – je recevrai
  • décevoir – je décevrai
  • devoir – je devrai
  • pleuvoir – il pleuvra

Howeverprévoir (to foresee) and pourvoir (to supply) have the future forms je prévoirai and je pourvoirai. the future of s’asseoir is je m’assiérai.

Avoir and savoir lose the oi of the infinitive, and the final v of their stems changes to u.

  • avoir – j’aurai
  • savoir – je saurai

The future of il y a is il y aura (there will be).

Vouloir loses the oi of the infinitive, and the final l of the stem changes to d.

  • vouloir – je voudrai

Valoir (to be worth) and falloir (must) also lose the oi of the infinitive and modify the stem.

  • valoir – je vaudrai
  • falloir – il faudra

Tenir and venir change their stem vowels to ie, and the i of the infinitive changes to d.

  • tenir – je tiendrai
  • venir – je viendrai

Several verbs have rr in the future tense, sometimes with a modified stem.

  • acquérir – j’acquérrai
  • courir – je courrai
  • envoyer – j’enverrai
  • mourir – je mourrai
  • pouvoir – je pourrai
  • voir – je verrai

Three verbs have irregular stems in the future.

  • aller – j’irai
  • être – je serai
  • faire – je ferai

Most compounds of verbs that are irregular in the future show the same irregularities.

  • défaire (to undo) – je déferai
  • devenir (to become) – je deviendrai
  • revenir (to come back) – je reviendrai
  • soutenir (to support) – je soutiendrai

Have a fabulous week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Imperfect – Continuing Past Action

French uses the imperfect tense to refer to past actions that are seen as continuing at another point of time in the past. English uses a had been doing something construction for this function. The French construction consists of the following elements:

  • depuis quand + imperfect [OR]
  • depuis combien de temps + imperfect [OR]
  • ça faisait combien de temps que + imperfect (colloquial) [OR]
  • il y avait combien de temps que + imperfect (colloquial)

These patterns are used to ask a question about how long something had been going on.

  • Depuis quand est-ce que tu travaillais à Québec ? | How long had you been working in Quebec?
  • Depuis combien de temps est-ce que vous étiez à la bibliothèque quand vous avez vu votre professeur ? | How long had you been at the library when you saw your professor?
  • Ça faisait combien de temps qu’ils cherchaient un logement quand on leur a offert cet appartement ? | How long had they been looking for a place to live when they were offered that apartment?
  • Il y avait combien de temps qu’elle travaillait dans cette entreprise quand ils lui ont donné une augmentation ? | How long had she been working at that company when they gave her a raise?

  • imperfect + depuis + time expression [OR]
  • ça faisait + time expression + que + imperfect (colloquial) [OR]
  • il y avait + time expression + que + imperfect (colloquial) [OR]
  • imperfect + depuis + starting point of action

These patterns are used to tell how long something had been going on.

  • J’habitais ce quartier depuis un an. | I’d been living in that neighbourhood for a year.
  • Ça faisait un an qu’ils sortaient ensemble quand ils se sont fiancés. | They had been going out for a year when they got engaged.
  • Il y avait une heure que nous attendions l’autobus quand vous nous avez aperçus. | We had been waiting for the bus for an hour when you spotted us.
  • Je travaillais à Québec depuis septembre quand j’ai dû rentrer en Belgique. | I had been working in Quebec since September when I had to go back to Belgium.

End Point Specified for Past Action

Although the imperfect is usually used to express repeated actions in the past, when the end point of those actions is specified, the verb is in the passé composé because the speaker’s focus shifts to the completion of the actions. In the following example, no end point is specified:

  • Quand j’étais petit, j’allais au bord de la mer tous les étés. | When I was a child, I went to the seashore every summer.

Notice the change in tense when an endpoint is specifically mentioned:

  • Jusqu’à l’âge de douze ans, je suis allé au bord de la mer tous les étés. | Until the age of twelve, I went to the seashore every summer.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !