I want to learn how to conjugate the 100 most common verbs or so. As you can see, this book is listing 11 conjugations.

Do you think some of them are unnecessary to learn in the beginning? Should I skip some conjugations to start with? Are some not very important?


  • Some conditionals and some subjunctives are less and less used when speaking.
    – Frank
    May 21, 2023 at 15:34
  • I agree with @Frank, but I'll say it differently, if you're a beginner, stick to present, present perfect, imperfect, and future tense. But it all depends on what you want to do with your French. Answers to that question can only be subjective.
    – None
    May 21, 2023 at 15:59
  • There are even "fun" details, where it seems that in some cases (maybe "nous" or "vous"), we prefer to use periphrases than eg a subjunctive, while for other persons (maybe "je", "il"), we still are familiar enough with the subjunctive to use it.
    – Frank
    May 21, 2023 at 16:04
  • 1
    What exactly do you want to be able to do in French? Having conversations? Reading literature? Watching movies? May 21, 2023 at 23:41

1 Answer 1


The order I teach it in high school (Grades 9–12 / ages 14–17):

  1. Present, impératif présent

  2. Passé composé

  3. Futur proche, futur simple (because the former can be learned in 5 minutes)

That gives you the ability to talk about most actions: past, present, and future.

  1. Imparfait

Because it's just about impossible to find any good past tense texts that don't use imparfait, and it begins to get awkward at this point to ask them to write natural accounts of past events without knowing that the PC isn't good for all senses.

  1. Conditionnel

Because students are begging to know how to say "would" for hypotheticals, and because once you have futur simple + imparfait you can just glue them together to make the conditionnel.

With this, I consider their fundamental toolbox done. However, the present and passé composé in particular are returned to and deepened because they're by far the hardest and most full of irregulars.

  1. Plus-que-parfait, futur antérieur, conditionnel passé

These are all easily formed compound tenses if you've mastered the above, and they're also intuitive for English speakers, because they mirror how we form these (had done, will have done, would have done).

  1. Subjonctif présent

This isn't too hard to form, but understanding its uses is tough.

That's where I leave them at the end of Grade 12. Also, during a novel study in Grade 10 or 11, I do show them the passé simple, but I don't spend the time on how to form it, because they only ever need to recognize it (and its translation is almost always obvious in the context of literature). Maybe if I get more efficient at teaching the above list I'll start throwing in the passé simple in detail.

P.S. To correlate with the ones in your book:

Your book calls it I call it
Present Présent
Present subjunctive Subjonctif présent
Perfect Passé composé
Imperfect Imparfait
Future Futur simple
Conditional Conditionnel
Past historic Passé simple
Pluperfect Plus-que-parfait

Note that "present participle" (participe présent), "past participle" (participe passé), and "imperative" (impératif) are not tenses but building blocks of tenses / moods. So, for example, note that the past participle appears in both the perfect and the pluperfect in your book.

  • We used to have all the subjunctives down by high school, after all the other tenses :-)
    – Frank
    May 22, 2023 at 1:49
  • Aussi, pour le "subjonctif du présent", on avait l'habitude de dire subjonctif présent, pas de du.
    – Frank
    May 22, 2023 at 3:18
  • @Frank Merci, je l'enlève !
    – Luke Sawczak
    May 22, 2023 at 3:29
  • Pas forcèment? C'est peut-être correct dans d'autres endroits de la Francophonie? Québec?
    – Frank
    May 22, 2023 at 3:46
  • @Frank I think I got confused with "présent du subjonctif". Indeed, it seems that one of the few district results on Google for the reverse order is my own (mis)use :p
    – Luke Sawczak
    May 22, 2023 at 4:22

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