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How to choose the right mood and tense in French - French verbs made easy (eBook + Workbook)

This is a comprehensive yet easy-to-digest eBook about how and when to use each of the French verb tenses.
  • Are the notions of moods and tenses foreign to you? (They are essential to choose the right verb form in any given French sentence.)
  • Are you confused about the difference between passé composé and imparfait, or near future and future simple?
  • Are you so afraid of the subjunctive you're trying to avoid using it?
  • Do you need help to clarify what the conditional or the compound tenses mean and how to use them?

Then, this book is the reinforcement you need! I carefully designed this textbook and each exercise of the workbook to create the best possible resource to help you understand the use of the French moods and tenses. A dedicated team of students just like you reviewed and tested all the content to ensure that my explanations are clear and easy to follow. 


  • Understand what moods and tenses are, what they mean and how / when to use them.
  • Create good habits by asking yourself the right questions to help you find the correct tense to use in French without resorting to literal translation.
  • Feel more confident using and choosing between tenses that students commonly confuse and struggle with.
    Examples include: how to choose between passé composé and imparfait, how to use the subjunctive / the conditional, what the different types of future mean, what compound tenses are, etc.


Recommended level: intermediate/B1 and above.

This is a reference tool to help you brush-up or go in depth about the different French moods and tenses. The explanations relative to each chapter are not intended for complete beginners on the topic. You can however read the chapters adapted to your level.

As a rule of thumb, it is suitable for you if you have a general knowledge of the different tenses: you've learnt about passé composé, imparfait, future (simple and proche), recent past ("je viens de…"), the conditional ("je voudrais…") and possibly the subjunctive.

You may not be confident conjugating or using these, but you've already come across them / heard about them at some point! 😉
This is NOT a resource about how to conjugate French verbs nor how to learn the conjugations.

The textbook is also referring to key grammatical concepts (eg., "past participle"). A basic knowledge of what they mean is important, although I'll do my best to be as clear and simple as possible...to cover such a broad and complex topic!


  • A downloadable textbook (PDF, 124 pages)
    Includes explanations with many examples and practical applications.
  • A downloadable workbook (PDF, 50 pages)
    The exercises are designed to make you think and develop good habits to pick the correct mood and tense for what you want to say.


"This eBook is for the person like me - someone who has totally fallen in love with the French language and wants to be able to actually speak the French language to French people without sounding like a tourist! [...]
This is a wonderful book for students of course - but honestly - this is an incredible resource for those who are no longer in a formal program of study, but want to learn the language. [...] And I am learning a lot about the English language as well."


"I really like the tip ‘which verb, which mood/tense’. It seems so simple but it makes me look at a sentence differently and helps so much with translating into French."


"Your work is outstanding. It covers so much material and “The Jessica Way” really shines through."


"Your chapter on imperfect vs passé composé is, by far, the best that I've studied. This includes my formal French classes, the online UT (Tex) description, and more YouTube videos than I can count. After going through this lesson and the exercises, I have this down! This, in and of itself, is worth the price of the ebook!"


"You’ve succeeded in taking much of the irrational subjunctive fear away, in large part due to your very matter-of-fact and practical approach. I also liked the sequencing of exercises coming after each segment of text, so I had a chance to check my comprehension and verify my responses with the answers provided."


"It provides thorough explanations about how to choose between different tenses, and has practical examples to reinforce the text. A great asset is the in-depth discussion of the nuances of French verb usage which makes for the natural sound to the language that all students are striving for. The author has identified common usage mistakes made by English speakers and highlighted those, along with excellent strategies to avoid them."


PART 1 Key notions you need to understand in this book

CHAPTER 1: French moods and tenses: an overview

I. French tenses and moods: what are they?

II. The French personal moods

1. The indicative mood (= L’indicatif)

2. The imperative mood (= L’impératif)

3. The conditional mood (= Le conditionnel)

4. The subjunctive mood (= Le subjonctif)

5. Summary and examples

III. The French impersonal moods

CHAPTER 2: The two-question approach (Avoid translation mistakes)

I. When literal translation just won’t work

II. The key to getting verbs right in two simple questions

CHAPTER 3: English auxiliary and modal verbs: what they are and how to translate them in French

I. Auxiliaries

1. "Auxiliary": definition

2. The French auxiliary verbs

3. The English auxiliary verbs

II. English modal verbs

1. Definition

2. How to translate modals into French?

III. When the English auxiliary / modal verb seems to stand alone

PART 2 French personal moods: main tenses and uses explained

CHAPTER 4: Compound tenses

I. Corresponding tenses and formation

II. Expressing anteriority

1. Passé composé de l'indicatif

2. Plus-que-parfait de l'indicatif

3. Futur antérieur de l'indicatif

4. Passé antérieur

III. The compound tenses across the French moods

CHAPTER 5: Le présent de l'indicatif (French indicative present)

I. The different values of the French indicative present

1. To talk about something that is currently happening

2. To talk about something permanent / a general truth, and in French proverbs

3. To talk about something that is recurring / a habit

4. To tell a story, report past events. (Présent de narration)

5. To refer to the future

II. What to pay attention to with the présent de l'indicatif

CHAPTER 6: How to choose between passé composé and imparfait?

I. Common misconceptions

II. Passé composé vs imparfait: when to use them

III. When the choice between imparfait / passé composé doesn't really matter

IV. "If" clauses ("Si"…)

CHAPTER 7: The different uses of the futur simple de l'indicatif in French (indicative future simple)

III. The different values of the French indicative future simple

1. To talk about what will happen /will be: certainty, prediction, promise, guarantee

2. To talk about a more abstract future: imagining life, predicting

3. Giving orders / instructions / advice

4. A way of being polite

5. The narrative future (futur de narration / futur historique)

CHAPTER 8: The three different ways to express the future in French

I. How to express the future in French

1. The indicative future simple

2. The near future

3. The indicative present

II. Is it a mistake to use one way instead of another?

III. The future simple used in "if" clauses

CHAPTER 9: “When” structures ("Quand...")

I. English vs French structures

II. The future tense in "when” structures

CHAPTER 10: Le conditionnel (The conditional mood)

I. Reminders about the conditional verb forms

II. The different values of the French conditional mood

1. Condition, hypothesis

2. Unconfirmed information

3. Giving advice

4. Polite requests / Expression of a wish

5. Expressing regret (past conditional)

6. In reported / indirect speech

CHAPTER 11: “If” clauses ("Si...")

I. Definition and structures

1. Definition

2. Structures

3. Additional comments: What to pay attention to with French “if” clauses

II. Plus-que-parfait: additional meanings in “if” clauses

1. Expressing regret

2. Reproaching, blaming someone

3. Polite requests

CHAPTER 12: Le subjonctif (The subjunctive mood)

I. The two key principles at the core of the French subjunctive

II. Verbs and expressions triggering the subjunctive mood

1. "Verbs of the mind" vs "Verbs of the heart"

2. Main expressions triggering the subjunctive mood

3. The subjunctive in impersonal structures

III. When the subjunctive or indicative moods are both possible: differences in meaning

1. Degree of probability

2. Order of the clauses

3. When the main clause ends with an indefinite pronoun or article

IV. Other expressions followed by the subjunctive

V. Final comments about the French subjunctive

1. Reminders about “que”

2. Past and future meanings in the subjunctive mood

3. French expletive “ne” (“Ne” néplétif)

4. ...Can we avoid using the subjunctive?

CHAPTER 13: Additional verb forms to express tenses in French

I. Progressive (or continuous) form

1. Avoiding a possible ambiguity in a sentence

2. Emphasis on the unfolding of the action

II. Recent past

III. Near future

IV. Bonus tool: saying that something is about to happen

PART 3 French impersonal moods

CHAPTER 14: L'infinitif (The infinitive mood)

I. How to identify the infinitive

II. How to use the infinitive in French

1. When there is an apparent subject in the sentence

2. When there is no apparent subject in the sentence

III. The past infinitive (“infinitif passé”)

IV. Final notes/comments about the infinitive in French

CHAPTER 15: Le participe (The participle mood)

I. How to identify the participle

II. Uses of the participles

II. Verbs vs adjectives

1. How to distinguish between the verbs and the adjectives

2. Adjectives of cause and effect

3. Rules of agreement

CHAPTER 16: Le gérondif

I. How to identify the gérondif

II. How to use the French gérondif: key notions

III. Possible additional values of the French gerundive mood

1. Simultaneity + manner/way

2. Simultaneity + condition

3. Simultaneity + opposite

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  • Textbook (PDF)124 Pages
  • Workbook (PDF)50 Pages


How to choose the right mood and tense in French - French verbs made easy (eBook + Workbook)

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