French Essay On Holidays In Present Tense

A topic that frequently comes up, for example in GCSE exams, is talking about a holiday, either future or past. This means that it's useful to know:

- the past tense
- the aller + infinitive construction for talking about the future
- some French holiday vocab

Past tense

When you're talking about a sequence of things that happened in the past, you'll generally use the perfect tense. A few verbs, notably aller, actually use être instead of avoir. And various irregular verbs have irregular past participles. As mentioned in the French holiday vocab section, some important irregular forms for describing a holiday are:

je suis allé a ...
I went to...
on est allés a ...
we went to...
j'ai pris (le train etc)
I took ...
je suis arrivé à (midi)
I arrived at (midday)

Talking about future holiday plans

For talking about planned events in the future, you usually don't need the future tense. Some more common ways to express the future are:

Je vais + infinitive
I'm going to...
e.g. Je vais passer deux semaines en Espagne.
I'm going to spend two weeks in Spain.

J'espère + infinitive
I'm hoping to ...

Then you can use these with other persons (learn thepresent tense of aller to know what form to use instead of "je vais"). For example:

mon frère va venir avec moi
my brother's going to come with me

French holiday vocab

Some useful vocab for describing holidays is given in the French phrases section of the web site. This includes names of places and names of modes of transport.

For GCSE, you need to learn a few basics: e.g. "London", "Paris", "France", "Spain", "beach" how to say "we went to...", "I went with ...", one or two weather expressions etc. Most of these are covered on the holiday vocab page just mentioned. You don't need to learn the more advanced expressions like "I was eaten by mosquitoes", but if you can learn one or two of these, it'll add a bit of variety to what you're saying.

Also, learn some food vocabulary so you can talk about what you ate on holiday.

Some phrases to help you say what you thought of a holiday / activity include:

Je me suis bien amusé.
I had a great time.
Ça a été.
It was OK.
C'était génial!
It was great!
C'était pas terrible.
It wasn't great.

Hope that helps! If you think I've missed anything off, please leave a comment on this thread!

About-France.com - online French grammar

 The present tense in French

Unlike English, which has two forms of the present indicative tense, the present simple and the present progressive, French just has one, the Present Tense. French needs more than a tense change in order to distinguish between different types of present action.
Thus the hypothetical English sentence: "I drink wine, but I'm not drinking wine" , which is understandable if unlikely, would become in French: "Je bois le vin mais je ne bois pas de vin," which is confusing to say the least.


The present tense  - le temps présent

This is used for expressing all forms of action taking place in present time.

► It is the only tense for expressing present time.
► In order to distinguish between momentary and progressive aspects of a present action (as, in English, between I eat and I am eating) French uses other devices. See below.
► Being the most common tense in everyday language, the present tense is also the tense where there are most irregularities.

VerbPresent tense
êtreje suis, tu es, il est, nous sommes, vous êtes, ils sont
avoirj'ai, tu as, il a, nous avons, vous avez, ils ont
pouvoirje peux (or je puis), tu peux il peut, nous pouvons, vous pouvez, ils peuvent
devoir je dois, tu dois, il doit, nous devons, vous devez ils doivent
porter
(regular verbs in -ir)
je porte, tu portes, il porte, nous portons, vous portez, ils portent
finir
(regular verbs in -ir)
je finis, tu finis, il finit, nous finissons, vous finissez, ils finissent.
vendre
(regular verbs in -re)
je vends, tu vends, il vend, nous vendons, vous vendez ils vendent
allerje vais, tu vas, il va, nous allons, vous allez, ils vont
boireje bois, tu bois, il boit, nous buvons, vous buvez, ils boivent
savoirje sais, tu sais, il sait, nous savons, vous savez, ils savent
venirje viens, tu viens, il vient, nous venons, vous venez, ils viennent.
voirje vois, tu vois, il voit, nous voyons, vous voyez, ils voient

Note: 3rd person pronouns are: Singular:  il or elle or ce ;  Pluralils or elles

Examples:
He likes wine but doesn't drink champagne.
 - Il aime le vin mais ne boit pas de champagne.
The car is making a strange noise.
 La voiture fait un bruit étrange.
When I'm eating snails, I think of France
  Quand je mange des escargots, je pense à la France


Distinguishing the "progressive" aspect
In order to stress that an action is progressive (i.e. ongoing), not instantaneous, French uses expressions rather than a specific verb tense.

The most common way of stressing progressive aspect is to use the verb phrase "être en train de" (litterally "to be in the process of"). So to stress the progressive aspect that is conveyed through tense usage in the English expression "He's swimming against the current", a French speaker will say :
   "Il est en train de nager contre le courant".
Another alternative is to add an adverb of duration, such as "actuellement" (meaning "currently"), which will give:
   "Il nage actuellement contre le courant".

However, there is often no need to stress the progressive aspect of a statement; most often, the context will be sufficiently explicit, so the aspect of the verb does not need to be  indicated. Besides, some verbs such as vivreand savoir are by definition progressive. Even in English, we do not need to say "I am knowing".

More examples:
I live in Paris - Je vis à Paris
At present I'm living in Paris - Actuellement je vis à Paris
I'm writing a rather long paper - Je suis en train d'écrire une dissertation assez longue.
Right now I'm drinking cider - Actuellement je suis en train de boire du cidre.
It's breaking up on the rocks - Il est en train de se briser sur les rochers.
We're having dinner -  Nous sommes en train de déjeuner / Nous déjeunons en ce moment


Other uses of the present tense 

One instance in which French uses a present tense where English does not is in time clauses using "depuis" (or synonyms) in the sense of "for" or "since" in relation to present time

While English uses a present perfect:
    I've been here for two hours   / He's been driving here since breakfast
French uses "depuis" and a present tense
    Je suis ici depuis deux heures / Il conduit depuis le petit déjeuner.

(In relation to past time, structures with depuis use a variety of past tenses, depending on the context: Examples :
    Il travaillait depuis trois jours, quand il est tombé malade
    Il n'a pas vu son frère depuis 35 ans. )

More examples:
We've been here for a week - Nous sommes ici depuis une semaine.
I've lived in New York since 1980 - Je vis à New York depuis 1980.
There haven't been any mice since we bought a cat -
    Il n'y a plus de souris depuis que nous avons acheté un chat.
I haven't felt well since I ate that sausage -
   Je ne me sens pas bien depuis que j'ai mangé cette saucisse.
    (Note that it is the verb in the main clause that is in the present tense, not the verb in the subordinate clause.)


► Other tenses:  Expressing the future      Past tenses      Subjunctive tenses


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