Categories: French tenses

Passé Composé Être – 3

Passé compose with the auxiliary verb être in French
Important lesson.

Watch the video passé composé below

Some verbs in French need the auxiliary verb être and not avoir, most of them are verbs of movement like naître, monter, descendre… to get the list of this verbs, there is a graphic here: Verbs

The structure of the Passé Composé is: Subject + auxiliary verb + past participle, it is the translation of the English Present Perfect or Preterit tense.

1. Auxiliary Verb: Être

Listening: Pay attention to the pronunciation in the video

Je suis tombé: I have fallen, I felt
Tu es resté à la maison: You stayed at home or have stayed.
Je suis tombé
Tu es tombé
Il est tombé
Elle est tombée
Nous sommes tombés
Vous êtes tombés
Ils sont tombés
Elles sont tombées

Je ne suis pas tombé
Tu n´es pas tombé
Il n´est pas tombé
Elle n’est pas tombée
Nous ne sommes pas tombés
Vous ne êtes pas tombés
Ils ne sont pas tombés
Elles ne sont pas tombées

2. Agreement Passe Compose

Important: Passé Composé endings: The agreement is with the subject (and not with the object as before with the verb avoir)

If Je is a girl: je suis tombée
With Vous, several forms exist:
Vous êtes tombé (masculine singular formal)
Vous êtes tombée (feminine singular formal)
Vous êtes tombés (masculine or mix informal or formal plural)
Vous êtes tombées (feminine informal or formal plural)

So the end of the past participle may be: nothing, e, s, es

Place of the adverb:
Je suis bien tombé: I felt heavily

With the verbs of the first group of verbs (infinitive in -er), you can´t hear the difference between tombé and tombées
But some verbs are irregular:
Mourir: to die
Il est mort hier
Elle est morte hier
Elles sont mortes hier
Naître: to be born
Nous sommes nées ensemble
Descendre: to go down, to get off
Elles sont descendues du bus: they got off the bus.

3. Difficulty

The difficulty comes from the verb être: it can be the auxiliary of the Passé Composé tense or just the present tense followed with an adjective that looks like our past participle.

Je suis sorti may be the passé composé expressing a past event for example: la semaine dernière, je suis sorti faire des courses (last week, I went out to go shopping)
But je suis sorti may be Present tense and the meaning is: I am out and je suis is just present tense and sorti an adjective

And it may work with many verbs:
Je suis mort de fatigue: I am dead tired (present tense)
Elle est morte la semaine dernière: She died last week

Exercise for Passé Composé:

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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