GCSE French: The Past Tense (Le Passé Composé)

Part two of my my french notes for my boyfriend. It is written quite simply (and with some strange comments) but it covers être verbs and regular / irregular avoir verbs.

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  • Created on: 25-01-10 17:12
Preview of GCSE French: The Past Tense (Le Passé Composé)

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The Past Tense (Le Passé Composé)
Use: For something that happened recently (last Saturday I went
cycling) or for something that happened in specified period of
time (last Christmas I went to Florida etc.)
How to form it: le passé composé is sort of awkward because the
formation varies depending on what type of verb you're using. If
you're using a reflexive verb or a verb of movement, it's always
être. Every other verb takes avoir, which is easier. To form it you
need an auxiliary and a past participle.
Auxiliary = avoir or être conjugated into the present tense (which is
why you need to know the present tense cool kids)
Past participle = this neat little word that goes on the end. Magic
isn't it? It isn't really explainable like the auxiliary; apart from it
comes after the auxiliary.
Hmm I think we'll start with être verbs first. Just for a change...
Être verbs
Now lets see which verbs are actually être verbs, otherwise this
could be slightly confusing, yes?
Every single reflexive verb takes être. Every single one.
Anything with an infinitive that has se or s' before it takes être.
Understood? Good.
The other verbs that take être are sometimes called movement
verbs. They can also be paired up into opposites, which is quite
Entrer (to go in)
Sortir (to go out)
Aller (to go)
Venir (to come)

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Arriver (to arrive)
Partir (to leave)
Monter (to go up)
Descendre (to go down)
Rester (to stay)
Tomber (to fall)
Mourir (to die)
Naître (to be born)
Retourner (to return)
Verbs like revenir (to come back) conjugate with être too because
it contains venir (to come). So any verb that has any of the above
in it also conjugates with être. Magic.
Now lets do le passé composé :D
Lets just go over the present form of être again (I love copy and
paste).…read more

Page 3

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Sortir sorti
Aller allé
Venir venu
Arriver arrivé
Partir parti
Monter monté
Descendr descendu
Rester resté
Tomber tombé
Naître né
Mourir mort
Retourner retourné
Then guess what? We add them together...I'll do it with aller then
well, do it yourself.…read more

Page 4

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Now regular avoir verbs are pretty simple, they all follow a nice
pattern that forms the past participle. But the irregular ones are
well, irregular. We'll do those later.
First lets re cap how to conjugate avoir in the present tense (copy
and paste, I want to marry you).
Je ai
Tu as
Il/Elle/On a
Nous avons
Vous avez
Ils/Elles ont
-er verbs
Splendid. Nice and simple, get the infinitive and remove the ­er so
we get the nice little stem.…read more

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Voiture is feminine, and in this case plural, so we add an e and an
s to vu. Note that the rest of the sentence also agrees with the
direct object.
-ir verbs
We'll use finir (to finish), because we always use finir for ­ir. I can't
remember ­ir verbs too well. For ­ir it's pretty simple, take off the
­ir to get the stem and then add i.
So take the ­ir off finir and we get fin.…read more

Page 6

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Vous + avez + vendu = vous avez vendu
Ils + ont + vendu = ils ont vendu
Now we've done all the regular avoir verbs we can do the irregular
ones. Yay! ­happy dance-.
Because the French language likes to be somewhat awkward a lot
of the time some verbs have different past participles to what
you'd expect. I'll make a nice little table for your benefit ­ you
should really memorise these.…read more

Page 7

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Oh look. How hidden is this?
1. Je suis allé(e) aux magasins.
2. Last Saturday I went horse riding
3. Tu a gagné
4. Ils/elles ont mangé à huit heures du soir
5.…read more


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