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Passé Compossé with Etre (PP)


TABLE 1 Verbs Using Être

Past Participle


devenir (to become)



revenir (to come back)


mourir (to die) = mort*
retourner (to return) = retourné
sortir (to go out) = sorti   

venir (to come)= venu*

arriver (to arrive)= arrivé


naître (to be born)= né*

descendre (to descend)= descendu

entrer (to enter) = entré

rentrer (to return)= rentré
tomber (to fall)= tombé
rester (to remain)= resté

aller (to go) = allé

monter (to go up) = monté

partir (to leave) = parti

passer (to pass by) = passé



Object Verb Agreement:

These words agree when they occur before the verb





These replace something in a sentence and mean it or them.

Example: Les livres qu j'ai achetés


The past participle usually agrees in gender and number with the subject when it is also the direct object 


Example: Elle s'est habillée rapidement

Example: Nous nous somes disputés


Subject/Verb Agreement

Reflective and reciprocal verbs

As with other être verbs, these always agree.  There are 5 reflective verbs that are exceptions to this rule. 


Passé Compossé vs Imparfait

The passé composé tells you that an action was completed.

The imparfait doesn't tell you whether an action was completed or not.

The imparfait is often used to describe an action that was interrupted. In this sense it is similar to the English tense 'was doing'.


The use of the imparfait doesn't tell you anything specific about the action

The imparfait is open-ended.

It does not tell you:

- where he came from

- how long he had been walking

- how long he would take to get to his destination

- whether he will reach his destination and complete his act of walking


Object Verb Agreement:

These are hints regarding an indirect object




When these are used, the verb does not agree.  

Example: je lui à parlé


Passe Compose: First step

Well, the first thing to know is that to form Passé Composé, you need 2 verbs : an auxiliary (AVOIR or ETRE) and a past participle. This matches your perfect tense in English, except you only use the auxiliary "to have" :

- I have walked
- You have done
- He has eaten


When the helping verb is être

The past participle agrees in gender and number with the subject


Questions in the passé composé with être

To form a question using inversion, invert the conjugated form of être with the subject pronoun and add a hyphen. The negatives surround the hyphenated verb and pronoun:

Sont-ils partis? (Did they leave?)

Ne sont-ils pas partis? (Didn't they leave?)


Passé Compossé with être

Some verbs use ETRE instead of AVOIR. There are about 20 of them: remember them through a nonsensical sentence : DR MRS VANDERTRAMPP.

All the letters stand for one verb:

Monter (to go up) and its derivative : "remonter"
Rester (to stay)

Venir (to come) and also: "revenir", "parvenir", "devenir", etc.
Aller (to go)
Naître (to be born)
Sortir (to go out)

Tomber (to fall)
Retourner (to return)
Arriver (to arrive)
Mourir (to die)
Partir (to leave) and also : "repartir", etc.
Entrer (to come in / enter) and also : "rentrer", etc.
Descendre (to go down) and also : "redescendre", etc.


Reciprocal Verbs that do not agree

s 'écrire

se dire

se téléphoner

se parler

se demander

se sourire


Forming the negative in the passé composé with être

In the negative, put ne before the conjugated form of être and the negative word after it:

Il n'est pas sorti. (He didn't go out.)

Elles ne sont pas encore arrivées. (They didn't arrive yet.)


Imparfait vs. Passé Compossé

The imparfait is used to describe the past.

The passé composé is used to narrate individual events in the past.


Novels and stories use the imparfait to set the scene with a description.

Novels and stories use the passé composé to tell you what happened.


Passé Compossé: Step 3

So, all you have to do is conjugate the verb AVOIR in the present tense and then add the past participle. Here's the conjugation of the verb AVOIR:

Tu as
Il a
Elle a
On a
Nous avons
Vous avez
Ils ont
Elles ont


Passé Compossé with Etre 


Verbs whose helping verb is être must show agreement of their past participles in gender (masculine or feminine — add e) and number (singular or plural — add s) with the subject noun or pronoun


When an indirect object in French is preceded by the preposition à when

No pronoun is used.  

Example: Elle parle à Monsieur Guy

Example: Je téléphone souvent à mes parents



Passé Compossé: Step 2

If you use a verb that usually ends in -ER (in the infinitive form, i.e. the form you find in the dictionary),

- to form the past participle, you need to take away the -ER ending and put -é instead.

- For verbs ending in -IR in the infinitive form, you need to take it away and replace it by -i

- And for verbs ending in -RE, you replace it by -u.


To negate a reflective or reciprocal verb in the passé compossé

the ne pas (ne jamais etc) around the pronoun and the helping verb

Example: je ne me suis pas reappelé son nom

Example: Tu ne t'es pas endormi avant minuit?


The use of the imparfait tells you:

what was going on, or what the scene was like


         (a young man was moving down the street)



Placement of reflexive or reciprocal pronouns 

Uses être

is placed before the form of être

Example: Vous vous êtes blessé?

Example:  On s'est téléphone.


Passé Compossé With être Step 2

the extra difficulty when you use ETRE, is that you need to agree (i.e. add an extra "e" when the subject is feminine, and/or an extra "s" when it's plural) the past participle with the subject.

Let's say you wanted to translate : "I went"
If we take our former method, you should translate it as "I have gone" - but this time you cannot use AVOIR because there is no object in this sentence. So, "I have" will become "I am" (= Je suis) and then you add the past participle, just like we've done before, PLUS the agreement, if necessary. Here are a few examples :


She went => She has gone => with ETRE => She is gone => Elle est allée
We arrived => We have arrived => with ETRE => We are arrived => Nous sommes arrivés
They stayed => They have stayed => with ETRE => They are stayed => Elles sont restées


Passé Compossé

The passé composé narrates a specific, completed event in time. It has a starting point and an ending point.

The use of the passé composé tells you:

- there is a starting point (the young man unwittingly placed his foot on a banana skin)
- which initiated an event (his foot gave way beneath him and his 220-pound frame came crashing down to the ground)
- which then ended (his fall was complete: he ended up lying in a heap on the concrete with an aching backside)

The imparfait ignores starting points and ending points.