Verbs: passé composé - être

Link : loom ladder | Prev: Verbs: Compound Past-avoir | Next : the future | note: click on blue text for audio or links.

The passé composé (compound past) is an action or event COMPLETED in the past. It is referred to as composé (compound) as it is made up of more than one element. It is made up of the helping verb, which expresses when the action took place, and the main verb, which expresses what action took place.
Most passé composé verbes use the when verb (sometimes referred to as the "helping verb") avoir (to be). To read about this check out Verbs: passé composé (compound past) for "avoir".
However there is another verb that is used - être(to be), for just a small handful of verbs.

My french teacher has said she was taught these verbs as "pairs" of words, while in all the different French learning language books and computer packages I have used have talked about the mnemonic "DR. and MRS. VANDERTRAMPP". This has never been successful for me so far at helping me learn this special group of verbs. If you look on the internet there are plenty of examples of using this mnemonic, or they have great pictures of a house - with these words included. So now I am now going to try to conquer my learning of passé composé avec être by reviewing learning them in pairs.

The best internet site I have found on this so far is ohlala I speak french

However - I though will explain all this in a slightly different way ...

Stage 1:

When using être as the when verb, the following what verb must agree in gender and number with the subject noun or pronoun. Luckily though it is simply
- adding an ~e for feminine singular;
- adding an ~s for male plural; and
- adding ~es for feminine plural
(sub-note: when avoir is used - it is simpler as it does not have to agree in gender and number)

So here is :

Stage 2: Reflexive verbs use être as their "when/helping" verb.

Reflexive pronouns are words such as myself, yourself, herself, etc. In French, unlike in English, reflexive verbs are extremely common and many verbs can only be used with an accompanying refexive pronoun.
reflexive pronouns are:
- me, m' : myself
- te, t' : yourself
- se, s' : himself / herself
- nous : ourselves
- vous : yourselves
- se, s' : themselves plural

A couple of examples are:
- se réveiller: to wake up : Vous vous êtes réveillé(e)s. (You have woken up)
je me suis réveillé(e)
ils s'excusent ; je m'excuse
je me suis lavé(e)
tu te souviens
nous nous sommes tu(e)s

Stage 3: A small set of non reflective verbs that use être.

There are three that relate to a change of state (and have 'non standard' spelling rules), and 12- in 6 pairs, and it also includes their related verbs which follow the same spelling pattern. Of these 6 pairs, only venir (to come) has a 'non standard' spelling rule.

  • Verbs related to a change of state:

    • né : naître (to be born) /mort : mourir (to die)
    • devenu : devenir (to become)
  • verbs related to movements.

    • sorti : sortir (to go out) / entré : entrer (to go in) (and related verb: rentré : rentrer: to return)
    • retourné : retourner (to return) / passé : passer (to stop by)
    • descendu : descendre (to go down) / monté : monter (to go up) (and related verb: remonter: go back up(raise))
    • allé : aller (to go) / venu : venir (to come) (and related verb: revenir: return)
    • arrivé : arriver (to arrive) / parti : partir (to leave) (and related verb: repartir: leave(restart)
    • tombé : tomber (to fall) / resté : rester (to stay)

I have noted these sets in a specific way, and added a yellow highlight on verbs who do not follow the rules of:
- Verbs whose infinitif ends in ~er, you drop the ~er and add .
- Verbs whose infinitif ends in ~ir, you drop the ~ir and add ~i.
- Verbs whoes infinitif ends in ~re, you drop the ~re and add ~u.

I will give examples of all these verbs that use être in a separate post - and include the link here.

Stage 4: Passé composé using either être or avoir - according to meaning.

Of these there are only 3 of the above sets that have this nuance on use. NOTE : -
- sorti : sortir (to go out) / entré : entrer (to go in) (and related verb: rentré : rentrer: to return)
- retourné : retourner (to return) / passé : passer (to stop by)
- descendu : descendre (to go down) / monté : monter (to go up) , (and related verb: remonter: go back up , raise)

The verbs above, when they are used with a direct object, they use the 'when/helping' verb of avoir, instead of être. A direct object answers what or whom the subject is acting upon.

*I will also be giving some sentence examples of this here.

So - I am so glad I have finally done this first post on "Passé composé". Now I just have to do examples and find sound files . ....*

Some additional internet site suggestions:
- french today
- french linguistics
- elearning french
- francias facile

August 22, 2014


Sorted by top post

Wow! Amazing! How did you get different coloured text though?

August 22, 2014

If you click on the blue colored text it takes you to another page on the internet. Sometimes it is within duolingo, sometimes it is a page outside duolingo. Sometimes it takes you to an audio file up on the internet. To get back here you will need to you the back arrow key on you browser.
To get a yellow highlight you use the ' key that often has a ~ on top, with the ' underneath.
If you go to my Tribute, Reference & Thank You page, by clicking on the gray writing here - it will tell you more things you can do :)

August 23, 2014

In many books/courses I have had the memory prod of Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp presented. You can read ColinSchwarting talking about it here. For me - I have never really found this useful to me as yet.
However RunningFrog has introduced me to this: " The way I learned is a little song to the tune of "Ten little Indians." Allé, arrivé, venu, revenu, entré, rentré, descendu, devenu, sorti, parti, resté, retourné, monté, tombé, né et mort. I supplemented this with the maison d'être. "
Thank you Running Frog !

February 19, 2015
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