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CHAPTER 8 – Definition – Sequence of tenses – Concordance des temps

Beginner-Friendly Explanation:

In French grammar, the concept of sequence of tenses refers to the relationship between the tenses used in different parts of a sentence. It helps maintain coherence and consistency when expressing actions or events that happen at different times.

Here are some important details about the sequence of tenses:

  • Primary and Secondary Clauses: In “if clauses – sentences starting with si” – with a main clause (primary clause) in the present, imparfait or past perfect tenses, the verb in the subordinate clause (secondary clause) should be conjugated, respectively, in the future, conditional and past conditional tenses.
  • Indicative and Subjunctive Moods: In sentences expressing doubt, uncertainty, or unreality, the sequence of tenses is often seen between the indicative and subjunctive moods.
  • Direct and Indirect Speech: When reporting speech or thoughts, the tense of the verb in the reported clause changes based on the sequence of tenses.

Understanding the sequence of tenses is important for maintaining grammatical accuracy and conveying the correct time relationships in French sentences.

Advanced-Level Explanation:

In French grammar, the sequence of tenses refers to the grammatical relationship between the tenses used in different clauses or parts of a sentence. It ensures coherence and consistency when expressing actions or events that occur at different times.

Here are some important details about the sequence of tenses:

  • Primary and Secondary Clauses: In “if clauses – sentences starting with si” – with a main clause (primary clause) in the present, imparfait or past perfect tenses, the verb in the subordinate clause (secondary clause) should be conjugated, respectively, in the future, conditional and past conditional tenses.
  • Indicative and Subjunctive Moods: The sequence of tenses often comes into play when expressing doubt, uncertainty, or unreality. In such cases, the indicative and subjunctive moods are used in different clauses to maintain the correct sequence of tenses.
  • Direct and Indirect Speech: When reporting speech or thoughts, the tense of the verb in the reported clause changes according to the sequence of tenses. For example, in indirect speech, the present tense may change to the imperfect, and the future tense may change to the conditional.

Mastery of the sequence of tenses is crucial for constructing grammatically correct and coherent sentences in French, especially when expressing actions or events that span different time frames.