English Grammar

Prétérit and présent perfect

When do you use prétérit or p perfect to translate the french "passé composé"I have lost my keys
I washed the floor


  • Wonderful question!    
    Have you read the book? Did you like it?
    This example (widely used)  displays the ambiguity of the French "passé composé" used as well for a past situation (as-tu aimé?) as for a present one ( as-tu lu?)
    There is no ambiguity in English so you have to position the action on the time scale, before translating
    That's that I think! I hope our corrector-robot will agree!
    Nice English grammar!
  • Well, Jean-Luc, I think anper is right. Don't practise a word to word translation, turn the idea from French into English and then apply the grammar rules.
    About the rules governing past perfect and simple past, you might have some notes in your workbook. Click on 'My workbook', then on 'Pedagogy' and eventually on 'Grammar'.
    Wouldn't you find what you are looking for, I - or anper - or someone else would display the rules.
  • Thank you Anper and AhQ
    I begin to understand. I have not found time enough to visit grammar on my workbook but i'll do it soon.
  • I've made many exersises with "Should" and "would" but i don't stop to make mistakes,Does anyone help me to get more clear that difference?
  • Hi Elena,
    In should there is an idea of obligation, or at least a suggestion, or advice (the obligation is softened by the conditional mode.) Here is what you should do. Voilà ce que tu devrais faire
    Whereas would is only used to give the conditional sense, what you would do (ce que tu ferais)   if it was possible, not what you actually do.

    Like AhQ to Jean Luc I suggest you to take a look on the would and should sections in your worbook, which explains  this much better than I do.

    And I wanted to add something on the previous topic above, question by JLG:
    When anper says that "J'ai aimé" is past, but "J'ai lu" is present, that doesn't surprise me because I've read that several times . But still it's not natural for me to consider "j'ai lu" as a present, that's not what we have learned in French grammar. That's why we find it difficult to choose the correct tense between simple past and past  perfect.

  • Sorry Pimparella!
    I didn't say "j'ai lu"  is a present tense but the question "as-tu lu"   takes place in the present and has to be translated by  a present perfect( have you...), on the other hand,"as-tu aimé" refers inevitably to an action  in the past and must be translated by a preterit
    No ambiguity in English, but in French as we don't use the "passé simple"anymore.,there is.some and we have to make a bit of parsing before translating

    Nice day

    i didn't say "j'ai lu" mais "as-tu lu"

Please sign in to leave a comment.