When to use the passé composé

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Le rosier a fleuri en juin.

When to use the passé composé? - Quand se servir du passé composé ?

It is tricky to speak in the past in French because you have to choose between the passé composé and the imparfait.

Use the passé composé when an action happened only once, or was short and sudden, specific, actions that were completed at some point in the past, and when you are talking about precise information.

Look at this passage

Suddenly, it started raining. It rained for two hours. I gathered my stuff in three minutes. Isabelle and I laughed the whole time.


Soudain, il a commencé à pleuvoir. Il a plu pendant deux heures. J’ai ramassé mes affaires en trois minutes. Isabelle et moi avons ri tout le temps.

In a nutshell, if you’re asking the question

What happened?, use the passé composé

Related: Passé composé vs. Imparfait . Past Participles . Past Participles Agreements . Past participles with On and EN . Practice French past participles . Imparfait .

Practice : List of past participles quizAgreement of Past Participles online . Multiple choice - Advanced .






3 comments to When to use the passé composé

  • Dragana Edwards

    Hi Anne,
    can you please help me understand this:
    Ces photos-là sont celles de ma sœur. Les miennes ne sont pas développées.
    why is the verb developper conjugated with être and not avoir?
    Merci d’avance

  • ‘être développé’ is a passive voice. You can learn about the French passive voice here or here as a premium member. Merci Dragana

  • Dragana Edwards

    Oh la la….just when I thought I learnt all the être conjugations – Dr & Mrs Van der tramp…..there’s more.



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