The French “passé récent” tense is used describe events which just occurred. It is formed by combining the present tense of the verb “venir” (to come) with the preposition “de”, followed by an infinitive.
What is the French passé récent?
The passé récent equates to “just + verb” in English. The usage of the this tense requires knowing how to conjugate venir (to come) in the present tense and the grammatical construction is as follows:
venir in present tense + de + Infinitive
Passé récent example sentences
Now that we have the grammatical structure down, let’s go through a few example sentences.
Je viens de manger.
I just ate.
Il vient de commencer.
He just started.
In this second example sentence, “Il vient de commencer” (he just started) could refer to a person doing activity or it would refer to the weather.
For example, “Il vient de commencer à étudier le français” (He just stated studying French). For the weather, you could say, “Il vient de commencer à neiger” (It just started snowing). This page on the website covers French weather terms in detail.
Nous venons d’acheter une nouvelle voiture.
We just bought a car.
Je viens de boire un café.
I just drank a coffee.
Note that the passé récent cannot be used in the negation. For example, you cannot say “Je ne viens pas de manger” (I didn’t just eat). For the negation, simply use the passé composé: “Je n’ai pas mangé” (I didn’t eat).
Video tutorial – get to know me!
When I first started teaching online I used to make video tutorials. I’m American and French is not my native language. But, here I am teaching the passé récent. Enjoy!
One more example…
Tu viens de finir cette leçon.
You just finished this lesson.
Et voilà! That it! You’ve now mastered the passé recent in French. Now consider taking a look at the expressions avoir besoin de (to need) and avoir envie de (to want, to fancy). Both of these expressions use grammatical structures which involve the use of the infinitive and are somewhat similar to the passé recent.