Avoir Passé vs Être Passé in French

Avoir Passé vs Être Passé in French

The verb passer is very common in French and used with many expressions, the main meaning is: to go, to pass, to spend.

To know when to use the auxiliaries “avoir” or “être” in French past tense (passé composé) is not so difficult to understand, it just depends on what we have next!

1. Avoir Passé:

J’ai passé mon examen avec succès: I passed my exam
Passé is followed with a direct object (no preposition), so we use the auxiliary “avoir”

Il m’a passé le livre: He passed (gave) me the book
Here the direct object is the book, so avoir is correct.

Un moment, je vous passe Mr Durand: One moment, I am going to put you through Mr Durand
Here the direct object is Mr Durand.

J’ai passé de très bonnes vacances: I really enjoyed my holydays
J’ai passé quoi? – de très bonnes vacances (direct object)

2. Être passé

Je suis passé par la porte: I went through the door
Here we have the preposition “par”, so the following part is not a direct object, we use “être”

Le camion lui est passé dessus: The truck ran over him
Here the preposition is “dessus” so again être.

La Loire passe par Nantes: The Loire river flows through Nantes
The preposition is “par” so no direct object!

When there is no object at all

We also use “être” but “avoir” is accepted
Mon déjeuner n’est pas passé: My lunch did not go down.
Mon déjeuner n’a pas passé: My lunch did not go down.

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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