ABSTRACT From the teacher's point of view, teaching the uses of the passé composé and imperfect tenses has been a frustrating experience. We have been relying on target-language equivalents of English past tenses rather than stressing the concepts and implications of pastness inherent in these two French verb tenses. In this article, translation is not used and English equivalents are purposefully avoided. Meaning is stressed and time elements are conceptualized. Examples of effective teaching and testing devices, gathered from several sources, are offered.