Recognising regular -ir verbs in Le Passé Simple

Look at these -ir verbs in le Passé Simple:

Cette nuit-là, je dormis paisiblement.
That night, I slept peacefully.

Quand tu partis pour la guerre, mon cœur se brisa.
When you left for war, my heart broke.

Le prince choisit Cendrillon parmi toutes les danseuses.
The prince chose Cinderella among all the dancers.

Nous sortîmes alors du placard.
We then came out of the closet. 

Vous réussîtes à vous libérer.
You managed to free yourselves.

Les enfants grandirent très vite.
The children grew up very fast.

To conjugate -ir verbs in le Passé Simple, here is what to do:

Stem of the verb (without -ir) + endings: -is, -is, -it, -îmes, -îtes, -irent

Possible confusion with -IR verbs following finir conjugation (verbes du 2e groupe)

For these verbs, the je/tu/il/elle/on forms of Passé simple are exactly the same as for Présent indicatif. 
The context will help you know which tense is intended in those cases.

Aujourd'hui, je finis le travail à 18h.
Today, I'm finishing work at 6pm.

Ce jour-là, je finis par renoncer.
On that day, I ended up giving up.

Other -IR verbs have distinct forms in both tenses.

Mon fils dort toujours profondément.
My son always sleeps deeply.

Cette nuit-là, la princesse dormit paisiblement.
That night, the princess slept peacefully.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le prince choisit Cendrillon parmi toutes les danseuses.
The prince chose Cinderella among all the dancers.


Mon fils dort toujours profondément.
My son always sleeps deeply.


Les enfants grandirent très vite.
The children grew up very fast.


Ce jour-là, je finis par renoncer.
On that day, I ended up giving up.


Vous réussîtes à vous libérer.
You managed to free yourselves.


Aujourd'hui, je finis le travail à 18h.
Today, I'm finishing work at 6pm.


Nous sortîmes alors du placard.
We then came out of the closet. 


Quand tu partis pour la guerre, mon cœur se brisa.
When you left for war, my heart broke.


Cette nuit-là, je dormis paisiblement.
That night, I slept peacefully.


Cette nuit-là, la princesse dormit paisiblement.
That night, the princess slept peacefully.


Q&A Forum 6 questions, 14 answers

Clarification of lesson

Hello! I still don’t get what this quote in the lesson  means:


“Note that for regular -IR verbs, the je/tu/il/elle/on forms of le Passé Simple are exactly the same as for le Présent. The context will help you know which tense is intended in thoses cases.”


Is the point being made that “Je dormis” both carries the meaning  “I slept” as well as “I sleep” or “I am sleeping?”

Asked 1 month ago
AlanC1Correct answer

Dormir is a bad example to choose, because it's not a regular -IR verb. The present tense of dormir is "je dors". If you had chosen finir instead, you would be correct. "Je finis"  is both the present and passé simple.

I think what makes this lesson a bit confusing is that "regular" seems to be used in two senses. In the title it means regular in the passé simple - i.e. all these verbs conjugate the same way in that one tense. But in the note that you quoted it means regular in all tenses - i.e. type 2 verbs that follow the pattern of finir.

Thanks, @Alan. My confusion is fully resolved now. Warm regards!

AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour à tous !

Indeed, as Alan expertly explained, this note actually applies only to "2nd group" verbs - i.e. ones that follow finir conjugations. Thanks to your feedback, I've now brought this much-needed clarification to the lesson :)

And to answer Rans, in the case of "3rd group" verb dormir, there is no confusion between Le Présent (je dors) and Le Passé Simple (je dormis)

Merci encore à tous et bonne journée !

Merci et bonne journée, @Aurélie!

Clarification of lesson

Hello! I still don’t get what this quote in the lesson  means:


“Note that for regular -IR verbs, the je/tu/il/elle/on forms of le Passé Simple are exactly the same as for le Présent. The context will help you know which tense is intended in thoses cases.”


Is the point being made that “Je dormis” both carries the meaning  “I slept” as well as “I sleep” or “I am sleeping?”

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I don't understand. Partis doesn't look like present of partir to me. I am confused.

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Ann,

In the present past historic, partir is conjugated thus-

Je partis, tu partis, il partit, nous partîmes, vous partîtes, ils partirent

Strange sounding but that's just how it is.

You will only encounter this tense mainly in literature, sometimes in the Press.

Hope this helps!

I don't understand. Partis doesn't look like present of partir to me. I am confused.

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Hi

I did not choose "Leila is finishing the soup very quickly" because, to me, that expression is in the Present tense.

With these two answers it seems you are teaching that Passé Simple is past tense and present tense. I am confused.

Why should I have chosen, Leila is finishing...?

Asked 6 months ago
AlanC1Correct answer

Hi Michael, I think you must have overlooked this note in the lesson:

Note that for regular -IR verbs, the je/tu/il/elle/on forms of le Passé Simple are exactly the same as for le Présent. The context will help you know which tense is intended in those cases.

I missed that note!

Thank you...I'll review the lesson again.

UberA2

Oh I made the same mistake! Worse, I actually did read it but then disregarded it in my mind. 

The good thing is that I'll learn from my mistake! (hopefully)

Great Minds Think Alike !

Hi

I did not choose "Leila is finishing the soup very quickly" because, to me, that expression is in the Present tense.

With these two answers it seems you are teaching that Passé Simple is past tense and present tense. I am confused.

Why should I have chosen, Leila is finishing...?

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KC1

Hi, I don't understand how "my neighbor manages to wake me up" can be Passe Simple.

Asked 2 years ago
GruffKwiziq language super star
Hi K, the sentence ""Mon voisin réussit à me réveiller." could be passé simple or le présent. As the lesson explains, the je/tu/il/elle/on passé simple forms are exactly the same as the Présent for regular -IR verbs. The context would normally tell you which tense was being used.
KC1
Thanks. I completely. missed that point. I had never noticed it before. It's so important, Is there any way to emphasize it? Maybe give an example?
KC1
I see that it is mentioned in a number of places. Resolved. Thanks.

Hi, I don't understand how "my neighbor manages to wake me up" can be Passe Simple.

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SueC1

a comment

I found it helpful to know the original usage of the passe simple, which was absorbed into the perfect tense when spoken . It worked alongside the imperfect where the imperfect gave a habit the passe simple was one off. I wish the passe simple would be used more!
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Sue ! Yes, Le Passé Simple used to be used (!) the same way we now use Le Passé Composé, alongside L'Imparfait. I agree that it would much simpler to learn :)

a comment

I found it helpful to know the original usage of the passe simple, which was absorbed into the perfect tense when spoken . It worked alongside the imperfect where the imperfect gave a habit the passe simple was one off. I wish the passe simple would be used more!

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Does anyone use the passé simple?

I love knowing and being able to use the more arcane aspects of grammar. I wonder, is it of any use learning this tense for dialogue, or is it solely literary in its applications?

Asked 2 years ago
CherylC1Correct answer
Bonjour David, Its use is literary. Yes, I like knowing what the passé simple of French verbs are too. As far as I understand their use in French, they're only used in written French, not conversational French. Bit like two languages. They're certainly used even in little children's fairy stories. Google E-books for children, and you'll find , which is "Little Red Riding Hood". I read it to children, and it's full of verbs in the passé simple. Cheryl

Does anyone use the passé simple?

I love knowing and being able to use the more arcane aspects of grammar. I wonder, is it of any use learning this tense for dialogue, or is it solely literary in its applications?

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