2

l'apparition de cette boisson les dernières années fût un succès auprès des femmes

Or

l'apparition de cette boisson les dernières années fut un succès auprès des femmes

4

Fut is for the 3rd person singular of the passé simple.
Fût is for the 3rd person singular of the imparfait du subjonctif.

How to conjugate être.

As it stands, and without further context, the tense used in your sentence is the passé simple. It relates an event in the past, there's no doubt of it having taken place, therefore:

L'apparition de cette boisson les dernières années fut un succès auprès des femmes.

The subjunctive is used, essentially in subordinate clauses, and in specific cases, mainly to express doubt:

  • Je doute que l'apparition de cette boisson fût un succès auprès des femmes. (expression of doubt).
  • Ok I see, to be honest that's what I expected. I actually came across it in French subtitles made by a French person but they had written it with fût. I thought they must have been wrong and I see they in fact were. As I discovered in my other question here though, the passé simple is normally only seen in written form? But this was in regular speech in a youtube video... – Hasen Sep 17 '17 at 10:12
  • @Hasen Lots of French people are confused on when to write fut or when to write fût, youtube subtitles often have mistakes (when they are not simply automated) Indeed the passé simple is not often used in oral speech, but not impossible either Another possibility in your sentence would be the passé composé (a été) – None Sep 17 '17 at 17:21
  • Yeah a été would be the normal thing here since its speech. – Hasen Sep 18 '17 at 2:30
  • @Hasen Irony also often is expressed in elevated language. – Luke Sawczak Sep 18 '17 at 16:48

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