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Do you need an auxiliary verb, such as Avoir or Être when using the Simple Past tense in French?

A simple question, really. I know that you DO use those two when doing the composite past, which is the version most commonly used. Simple Past, though, is mostly used for formal writing and history, which is something I will probably look into at some point or another.

November 20, 2017



Been studying the passe simple for about a week now. From what I can tell, the answer is that you do not use avoir or etre verbs - the endings in the passe simple replace those. In essence, the passe simple (in formal literature) replaces the passe compose. It is not used when speaking.


I don't think I've ever heard anybody omitting them in speach, I guess that it would sound very weird. I think I've heard the simple past spoken a few times in form of "fut" (coming from "faire"), but in a song or in a formal speach.


You are right.

Verbe conjugué avec l'auxiliaire avoir:

Passé composé : J'ai vu une souris. Passé simple : Je vis une souris.

Verbe conjugué avec l'auxiliaire être.

Passé composé : Tu es tombée de cheval. Passé simple : Tu tombas de cheval.

And of course, it's pretty hard to master, even for French themselves. But there are tables of conjugation. In France, schoolchildren have a little book "sacred", the Bescherelle!



The answer lies in their names:

Passé simple vs Passé composé

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