-ER verbs in the passé simple in French

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-ER verbs in the passé simple

The passé simple is used for describing specific or completed past actions. This tense is formal and literary, and nearly exclusively used in books. In spoken French, it is more common to use the passé composé for past actions.
« Nous montâmes un escalier tournant en vis; nous passâmes un corridor, puis un autre, puis un troisième (...). J’entrai.  » "We climbed up a spiral staircase ; we went through a corridor, then another, then again a third one (…). I came in." (Le Dernier Jour d’un condamné, Victor Hugo)
In the passé simple, verbs ending in –ER (chanter to sing, terminer to finish, aller to go) are conjugated as follows: -ai, -as, -a, -âmes, -âtes, -èrent.
se lever en
Je me levai
Tu te levas
Il se leva/elle se leva
Nous nous levâmes
Vous vous levâtes
Ils se levèrent/elles se levèrent
déjeuner en
Je déjeunai
Tu déjeunas
Il déjeuna/elle déjeuna
Nous déjeunâmes
Vous déjeunâtes
Ils déjeunèrent/elles déjeunèrent
aller en
J’allai
Tu allas
Il alla/elle alla
Nous allâmes
Vous allâtes
Ils allèrent/elles allèrent
Ce jour-là, Victor se leva tôt On that day, Victor got up early.
Note: with verbs which end in –GER, an e should be added just before the verb ending. With verbs ending in -CER, the c switches to ç.
manger en
Je mangeai
Tu mangeas
Il mangea/elle mangea
Nous mangeâmes
Vous mangeâtes
Ils mangèrent/elles mangèrent
avancer en
J’avançai
Tu avanças
Il avança/elle avança
Nous avançâmes
Vous avançâtes
Ils avancèrent/elles avancèrent
Nous avançâmes jusqu’au bureau du juge. We proceeded to the judge’s office.


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