Verb tenses

  • Hélène BLONDEAU (Floride, Etats-Unis)
    No salvation outside THE norm ? The Montreal study of variations in hypothetical si-clauses
    2012, Vol. XVII-1, pp. 55-66

    Through the panel study of twelve Montrealers from 1971 to 1995, this article examines the variation between the conditional and the imperfect morphology in hypothetical si-clauses. The two variants, well in place in the spoken French implicit norms system, are in opposition when given values in the normative debate. The analysis indicates the influence of the distance and the event potentiality. Due to vacillations in usage frequency according to the year, the study cannot confirm the hypothesis of a change in favor of the conditional morphology. This case study documents the individual variation across the lifespan and its connection to community change.

  • Colette CORBLIN (IUFM-Cergy-Pontoise)
    The use of verb forms in school writing: the French past perfect
    2001, Vol. VI-1, pp. 63-73

    Based on the description of defective verbal forms in stories, we propose an analysis of errors with a didactic aim. The past perfect is a verbal tense that children know well and use spontaneously. Deficient usage in school stories, however, reveals some difficulties when they imagine mentally the succession of the events of a story in the act of writing. Our hypothesis is two-fold : on the one hand the child has difficulties in representing the order of events, on the other he/she has to choose an event which serves as a temporal mark in the story and allows for the use of a past perfect. The study of discourse where the unsuitable form appears, indicates a conflict in the act of writing, i.e. the difficulty of the writer to unify the narrator's point of view.

  • Martin HOWARD (Cork, Irlande)
    Interaction between contextual factors and variation in the use of past tenses by anglophone learners of French
    2002, Vol. VII-2, pp. 31-42

    Given the range of linguistic factors which have previously been proposed as constraints on the linguistic variation characterising the expression of past time by the second language learner, it is difficult to pinpoint which single factor is genuinely at work behind this phenomenon in learner language. In an attempt to distinguish between the effects of such multiple factors in anglophone advanced learners of French, this paper presents quantitative evidence which suggests that no single factor outweighs another. Rather, each factor 'interacts' with every other, in such a way that the causes of that variation are not singular but indeed multiple.

  • Maria KIHLSTEDT (Paris 10-Nanterre)
    The use of the past tense in French by suedophones and French native speakers
    2002, Vol. VII-2, pp. 7-16

    This study investigates the acquisition of the imparfait by advanced Swedish learners of French. Their use of the imparfait is compared to that of some native speakers in an interview task. The analysis is based on the relationship between Event Time and Reference Time in different values expressed by the imparfait. It is shown that the learners prefer the imparfait for situations where the actual time of the event (Event Time) completely overlaps with the time spoken about (Reference Time). Situations that imply a distance between the two time spans are only expressed in the imparfait by the most advanced learner and by the native speakers. On the basis of this result, an implicational scale for the acquisition of the contextual values of the imparfait at advanced stages is suggested.

  • Suzanne SCHLYTER (Lund, Suède)
    Telicity, past tense and types of discourse in acquiring French as an foreign language
    1996, Vol. I-1, pp. 107-118

    This article discusses a study of the acquisition of past tenses in French, more in particular that of the "passé composé" by a number of non-guided learners of French having Swedish as their native language. Results of the study show that, contrary to the "aspectual" thesis as put forward by Andersen, the passé composé is used rather rapidly and widely to refer to the past, with verbs of different semantic types.

  • Ewa WIBERG (Lund, Suède)
    Reference to past and verticalization in advanced NNSs dialogues
    2002, Vol. VII-2, pp. 43-50

    The present work concerns the use of past reference and the possible connection between verticalization and syntactic complexity in advanced Italian interlanguage in dialogues with Swedish university students. Although the NNSs' (nonnative speakers) have reached a certain syntactic complexity and refer to the past in a way similar to that of native speakers of the target language, their fluency of speech is less advanced. The students therefore recur to scaffolding and verticalize their information about past events, relying on the proficient interlocutor's interaction. It is proposed that the above mentioned discrepancy might be due to different language processing skills utilized. Native speakers have access to procedural knowledge that is required in quick speech, while the acquisitional stages seem to use knowledge that is stored in long-term memory, that is declarative knowledge. Through exposure to language the NNSs' access to on-line speech production becomes more rapid and the procedural knowledge increases. Consequently it is important to sort out different language skills when defining the advanced levels.