The Narrative Question or Récit Leaving Cert French

The Narrative Question or Récit 

In order to do well in this type of writing, students need to have a very clear understanding of the use of “Past” tenses such as the passé composé, the Imparfait and the plus-que-parfait.

According to the 2016 Chief Examiner’s report, the narrative or récit question is generally not a popular choice. The Linguistic Skills needed were those from I.6 (Giving an account or description of an event in the past and sequencing events), requiring the use of Passé Composé, imperfect and pluperfect tenses. The récit format should have been familiar to all candidates, as this type of question occurs in either part (a) or part (b) of Q.1 in most years.

Many candidates, who choose to do this question, put together interesting, and imaginative stories, which are relevant to the question being asked and clearly expressed.

Students who do not do well in the récit question usually attempt to tell a story which lacks coherence and the different elements do not hold together well.

In addition, a lot of candidates struggle with the format of the various past tenses, or have difficulty distinguishing between the use of the Passé Composé and the imperfect tenses.

Let’s take a look at one of the questions from the Leaving Cert papers. Décrivez un incident amusant qui s’est passé dans votre école un jour.  (Votre récit peut

être réel ou imaginaire.)  – Describe a humorous incident which happened in your school one day. (Your story can be real or imagined).

In order to answer this question, I usually ask my students to include the following 5 elements. In doing this, they then have a complete structure, and waffling is avoided.

  1. Set the scene. Tell the reader where you were, and depending on the type of story, what the weather was like. (The imperfect tense is generally used to set the scene in the past tense. It is also used to express weather and feelings in the past tense).
  2. Who was there? Were you alone? Were others there or nearby?
  3. What happened (the substantial part of the récit). You would use a mixture of passé composé, imparfait and plus-que-parfait here.
  4. What was the result or consequence. The tense used here would be dependent on what you want to say.
  5. Your feelings about what happened. (Remember that you may have different feelings throughout the récit. In this particular récit, you may have started off feeling bored at school, but through the incident, you change your feelings accordingly.

A lot of students wonder about correctly using proverbs and French sayings in their writing. My own advice would be to use proverbs and colloquial expressions only where they really fit, and avoid using too many of them.


I have put together a list of commonly used phrases to help you with this type of writing.


Full version of these phrases is available to members of Teacher or Leaving Cert Plans. Please click on these links for more information on our 3 different plans, which will give you 365 days peace of mind, whatever stage you are at.


Junior Cert French Plan

French Junior Cert subscription plan helping you with your French exam



French Leaving & Junior Cert Plans. Leaving Cert French Notes for exams.

French Leaving & Junior Cert Plans. Leaving Cert French Notes for exams.


French Notes Teacher Plan

French Teacher Plan gives you loads of material for lesson planning

As a member of the Leaving Cert or Teacher Plan, you would have immediate access to:

  • Over 500 sample topic sentences on a wide-range of topics
  • Approximately 60 sample opinion pieces.
  • Diary Entries
  • Narrative writing technique & Phrases
  • Grammar section
  • Grammar exercises
  • Reading comprehensions
  • Verb drills
  • Study guides
  • Comprehensive oral section with videos
  • Expressions & key constructions
  • Letters and much more…

To see some of our sample revision notes, please follow these links:


Free Junior cert French Revision notes

Junior cert French Revision notes

If you were to sign up for our one year Junior Cert plan, you would have access to:

  • Worksheets
  • Audio section
  • Oral questions & Role-plays
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Comprehensive vocabulary lists
  • Verb drills
  • Grammar section
  • Reading Section
  • Written section with postcards, notes & letters

Please see some of our sample Junior Cert revision notes here


Leaving Cert Free notes

Free Leaving Cert Notes

Members of the Teacher Plan have automatic access to both Leaving Cert & Junior Cert revision notes. Also we are constantly adding new files to the site, so whatever is put up for the duration of your membership, you have access to it. While we do put up some of our material on social media, it is only a fraction of what you will find on our site. 

C’était un matin ordinaire 

It was a typical morning

Ce jeudi matin avait commencé comme tous les autres

That Thursday morning had started like any other

Ce jour-là – On that particular day

J’avais honte – I was ashamed

J’avais peur – I was afraid

J’étais aux anges – I was excited

J’avais cru que – I had believed that


French Leaving Cert Revision Courses

French Leaving Cert


If you would be interested in attending one of our French Leaving Cert Revision courses, please follow the link below for more information. All of our monthly courses take place from September to May and are held in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Our Courses begin at 1pm and ends at 5pm. The cost is €60 and includes a 30 page booklet with exclusive French Notes content. During our revision courses, students learn how to write opinion pieces, Diary entries and/or the narrative (récit),   learn active listening methodology, practice speaking and reading French comprehensions. They also do Translation exercises and study a specific area of grammar.

1999 Leaving Cert Narrative Question (Extract- Full version available to subscribed members)


Il vous est sûrement déjà arrivé d’avoir eu très peur. Dans quelles circonstances? Comment avez-vous réagi ?

You have obviously had a time when you were very frightened. What were the circumstances and how did you react?

I will always remember the events leading up to Christmas, 2014. It was a very cold morning in the month of December. I had just started my Christmas holidays, and so I was still in bed…


The events leading up to

Les événements qui ont précédé



Mes parents étaient partis

My parents had gone

Quelques choses de dernière minute

Last minute things

Je me souviendrai toujours les événements qui ont précédé Noël 2014. C’était un matin très froid au mois de décembre. Je venais tout juste de commencer mes vacances de Noël et donc j’étais encore au lit…


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