1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. Motion verbs and past tense c…


Motion verbs and past tense construction in French

Why is "danser" (to dance) not considered a motion verb as "aller" (to go) is which would then be composed with "être" to make the past tense composé?


May 21, 2020



I'd say two reasons:

- It's not a rule, just a trick to remember a list of verbs.
Motion verb means to get from A to B, not just moving. Nager is not on the list either. (same for courir and marcher, by the way)


Ahhh! Very helpful. Thanks! Entrer, A to B. I like it.


Wait. So at the risk of getting out too far over my skis here, even if I ran or walked from A to B in the past tense, it's still conjugated with avoir rather than être? I walked to school yesterday. J'ai marché à l'école, hier. So this must be another facet of each verb to remember just like gender, e.g.


Just try to remember the short list of verbs that are conjugated with être.


Very helpful. DR&MRS VANDERTRAMP! This was my first post and now I've also figured out how to give a lingot. Thanks JoJo.


Yet "rester" and "mourir" are on the list. Yes, it's just a handy list to help remember.


And "naitre" and "devenir."

I think the whole "motion/movement" concept starts off helpful, but then becomes limiting. You have to think pretty existentially to think of being born or dying or remaining as as motion or movement. It works for "aller" for starters but ends up leaving holes in your understanding.

I think it is very similar to the gender problem, as the OP suggested. We start learning "le" and "la" with boy and girl, and that is helpful at first. Within moments the question is then, "why is an apple feminine, requiring 'la'?" It doesn't have to make sense. It just is.

For me, it has become standard to remember genders and etre verbs as "one word." I try to learn the phrase "je suis né," so that the phrase "j'ai né" doesn't even sound right. Duo is very good in this because of it's forced repetition. BTW this is the main teaching in the LIFE skill toward the end of Level 4.


At school I was taught that it was the short list of verbs of motion and change of state - which accounts for the birth and dying.


The 'change of state' is a very helpful concept to me rather than the motion. As with a lot of French it doesn't have to make English sense because it just is, and its French not English. But explaining to myself why I never understood it at all as a child is very helpful.

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.