Verbs ending in -ir or -re in the passé simple in French

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Verbs ending in -ir or -re in the passé simple

Reminder: the passé simple is almost exclusively used in formal and literary French for describing specific or completed past actions.
« Nous partîmes cinq cents ; mais par un prompt renfort
Nous nous vîmes trois mille en arrivant au port.  »
We set out as five hundred, but with swift support,
We grew (literally ‘we saw ourselves’) to three thousand as we reached the port.

(Le Cid, Corneille)
In the passé simple verbs ending in -IR (finir to finish, sortir to go out, etc.) and most verbs ending in -RE (prendre to take, faire to do/to make, dire to say) are conjugated as follows: -is, -is, -it, -îmes, -îtes, -irent.

finir en
Je finis
Tu finis
Il finit/elle finit
Nous finîmes
Vous finîtes
Ils finirent/elles finirent
prendre en
Je pris
Tu pris
Il prit/elle prit
Nous prîmes
Vous prîtes
Ils prirent/elles prirent
faire en
Je fis
Tu fis
Il fit/elle fit
Nous fîmes
Vous fîtes
Ils firent/elles firent
Ils finirent de travailler à 3 heures du matin. They finished working at 3am.
Note: Some verbs ending in -IR or -RE are irregular. These are the most common ones:

courir en
Je courus
Tu courus
Il courut/elle courut
Nous courûmes
Vous courûtes
Ils coururent/elles coururent
venir en
Je vins
Tu vins
Il vint/elle vint
Nous vînmes
Vous vîntes
Ils vinrent/elles vinrent
boire en
Je bus
Tu bus
Il but/elle but
Nous bûmes
Vous bûtes
Ils burent/elles burent
Marcel courut pour attraper le bus. Marcel ran to catch the bus.


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