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Avoir or ÊTRE in the passé composé?

Avoir ou ÊTRE au passé composé ?

Avoir or ÊTRE in the passé composé?

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La mer a baissé.

The words passé and composé mean ‘compound past’. The passé composé always has two parts:

  1. the helping verb, also called auxiliary
  2. the past participle

There are only two possible auxiliaries in French ÊTRE or AVOIR.

AVOIR or ÊTRE ? – THREE RULES 

1.Most French verbs take AVOIR.

2.All pronominal verbs – use SE or S’ in their infinitive form  – use ÊTRE.

3.There are 17 verbs that also use ÊTRE as a helping verb (see ‘Dr & Mrs Van der Trampp’ below).

Dr Mrs Van der Trampp – ÊTRE

There are 17 verbs that also use ÊTRE as a helping verb. Grammar books have different ways of organizing them. I find the simplest way is to decline them as Dr & Mrs Van der Trampp as the acronym for this list of verbs:

devenir, revenir, monter, rentrer, sortir, venir, aller, naître, descendre, entrer, retourner, tomber, rester, arriver, mourir, passer, partir

Practice

To practice picking ÊTRE or AVOIR in compound tenses, translate into French.

  1. I went out last night.
  2. I took the trash out.
  3. I dropped by to see you.
  4. I took an exam.
  5. I came back late.
  6. I took the chairs in.
  7. I went upstairs quickly.
  8. I took the suitcase up/stairs.
  9. I came downstairs at 9:00.
  10. I took the blanket down/stairs.

Detailed explanations and answers in the Premium worksheet.

Related (some for Premium members only): lists of past participles and online game Agreement of past participles . When to use the passé composé . Passé compose vs. Imparfait .

Access to Free weekly podcasts . Home blogue . About France . About Paris . French Songs and Poems . About French . French vocabulary bites . French manuel . French textbook  for members only .

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