(For verbs ending in ayer, we can write either i or y.) Habitual vs Occasional. Sometimes, under certain circumstances, avoir will agree with a direct object. I saw it.). I saw them (t… Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Ongoing vs New. But let’s put a pin in those irregular roots to make way for the endings. Il/Elle a (He/she has) Just more rules to add to your big old book of “French Rules.”. As you start reading, you notice something bizarre in the grammar. Just like in any other case whether in grammar or in real life, there are always a set of rule-breakers. It’s really not so bad once you get into the groove of the perfect tense. The passé composé (present perfect) names past actions that occurred, and the imparfait (imperfect) describes what it was like when the past action occurred.The imparfait also describes how things used to be, in your childhood for example, without focusing on a specific date. (He put the dog out). It helps a lot though if you have brushed up on your English grammar. The shoes! (She came in late). In the example above, the direct object pronoun is masculine singular (the film is masculine singular), so it doesn’t change the ending of the past participle. In this case, avoir. With Être: Je suis montée dans ma chambre. J’ai vu les éléphants au zoo. You have languages like Indonesian with no verb tenses, which makes French’s 21 different verb forms seem pretty complex. Often used in combination with the imperfect, the passé compose can express an action completed in the past, an action repeated in the past, or a series of actions completed in the past. You’re dancing in the past tense ( J’ai dansé), swimming in the past tense ( J’ai nagé), you’re even eating lunch and watching TV in the past tense ( J’ai déjeuné et j’ai regardé la télévision). And when used correctly, you’ll sound like a pro. J’ai réappris passé composé et j’ai remonté le temps! Example: donner (to give) becomes donné, tomber (to fall) becomes tombé. There are other ways to speak in the past tense in French, and don’t forget the future. To form the passive tenses in French, être is used, followed by the past participle. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates. Download: Bet you were wondering where they fit into the struggles. The imparfait is formed with the present tense of the 1st person plural, ‘nous,’ of the verb, and add proper endings (-ais,-ais , ait, -ions, - iez, -aient). To form the past tense, you use this formula: present tense of the verb, The past participle is obtained through using the indicative and changing the endings (-er verbs to -é, -ir verbs to -i, and -re verbs to -u), French Verb Être: Conjugation and Usage (+ FREE MP3), French Relative Pronouns: All You Need to Know About Pronoms Relatifs, Free Resources – Talk in French Free Library, A Quick Background on the French Past Tense. The past participle (participle passé) in French is the past tense conjugation of a given verb. I’ve organized them by similar ending sounds for your memorizing pleasure (flashcards recommended). In the example, “I have spoken.” is the past participle form while “I spoke.” is the simple past tense. Phone: + 33 782 171 213 For example, if you simply say 'he came down' with no direct object in the sentence, you use  être (il est descendu ) . Come with me, you dedicated French learners, and we’ll remonter le temps (go back in time) and discover the basics—as well as the finer points of one of the most important tenses in French: passé composé (the perfect tense). But if you say 'he came down the stairs' the stairs being the object, that is when you use  avoir (il a descendu l'escalier). Here are some common verbs and their past participles, most of which use avoir as their helping verb. We use reflexive verbs in English, too (for example: “He behaved himself.”). Newsletter (+ 21 000 Happy Subscribers), Email: contact@talkinfrench.com Click here to get a copy. ... J'ai voyagé en... 3. See also: The French Imperfect Tense (Imparfait). The imperfect tense is one of the tenses used to talk about the past, especially in descriptions, and to say what used to happen, for example ‘I used to work in Manchester’; ‘It was sunny yesterday’. What better way to make conversations with French speaking people? To put it simply, it means “to____ oneself”. Calling all beginners and diligent reviewers! With Être: Il est sorti. Example: Je suis allé en France l'année dernière. Good, good, you’re ready for some of the trickier tricks that French has to offer: the underbelly of French grammar. Rentrer (to return) – rentré But hey, don’t stop here. Yup, you heard me, a body part. (I turned over the bed). Retourner  (to go back) – retourné FluentU lets you learn French from real-world content like music videos, commercials, news broadcasts, cartoons and inspiring talks. Over 100,000 French translations of English words and phrases. The perfect tense is the most common way to talk about the past in French. In general, grammar experts believe there are three main tenses: past, present, and future. Être is an auxiliary verb which is used with the past participle of several French verbs to form compound tenses such as the perfect or the past perfect. With Être: Je suis descendue du train. To figure out what the past participle is, follow these (regular) rules. But before you go jumping for joy, verbs that take être involve one more step. Ils ont répondu (They responded). Here’s a list of the most common être verbs, their past participles and their definitions. (He went out) FluentU is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. These irregulars appear in the past tense as well. (You took up your things). A direct object pronoun replaces the well, direct object, and goes before the verb. ​So this here is the meat of the lesson: the correct form of avoir + how to form the past participle. ), So just when you’re thinking to yourself… “So if être is the helping verb, then the participle agrees, but if it’s avoir, it doesn’t. Sorry, it’s impossible to escape them really. download the FluentU app from the iTunes store, 4 Simple Tips to Learning More French Grammar in Less Time, 10 Awesome French Podcasts For French Learners, 9 Great Channels to Learn French on YouTube, 10 Tasty Tips for Teaching Yourself French, 7 Awesome Songs to Help You Learn French Through Music, 15 French Idioms You Should Know But Don’t, 15 French Slang Words Every French Learner Should Know. Pronoun + Auxiliary Verb + … Exceptions in the present tense in French Verbs ending in -er. But when approached with an open mind and willingness to learn, you should be able to grasp it quite easily. I hate to break the bad news to you, but you’re still in regular land. It’s also used to tell stories about past events, mainly in literature. Examples: Je finissais mes devoirs.-. The past tense is used when you talk about an action that took place and was completed in the past. PART A: Conjugate your helping verb. There are two groups of verbs that makes use of  être, and these are: When we say reflexive verbs, these are the French verbs that appear with the pronoun se or the shortened form s' before it. Past participles of some regular French verbs; French verb Past participle English meaning; manger (to eat) mangé: eaten: travailler (to work) travaillé: worked: marcher (to walk) marché: walked: regarder (to watch) regardé: watched It can talk about an action or situation that was in progress at a certain point in the past, as well as expressing a regular and repeated past action. Macaron addict. If the infinitive ends with an -ir, remove the r at the end, If the infinitive ends with a -re, replace the -re with -u. je is shortened to j' when it comes before a word that (1) starts with a vowel, (2) most words that start with h, and (3) the French word y. (Remember that the reflexive pronoun always matches the subject.). Partir (to leave) – parti*. - Indicative tenses - Imperfect indicative. French Past Tense could be a mind-numbing learning task. ► It … Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store. the sun is a star, winter begins in June in Argentina, etc.) But have no fear, this struggle is easily explained. Before we proceed to the usage of être in  the past tense, let's first take a look at its present tense forms. Twitter (+ 40 000 followers) Those aren’t words, and that’s because there are a handful or two of irregular past participles out there. Amazing Avoir: Elles ont passé un an en prison. Use FluentU’s learn mode to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video with vocabulary lists, flashcards, quizzes and fun activities like “fill in the blank.”. Le, la or les will replace the object you are talking about according to quantity and gender, and go before the helping verb. Tomber (to fall) – tombé Vous avez (You have) It is also formed by two words just like its English counterpart by using the verb avoir (in most cases) which means 'to have', or être which means 'to be' before the main verb. Thanks for subscribing! We’ll break this down by each verb. Therefore, according to the mythical rules of French, the verb takes avoir and does not agree with the subject (except sometimes, see struggle #4). And snap out of it if you’re just daydreaming about the future. Sortir (to come out) – sorti, Venir (to come) – venu* You’re dancing in the past tense (J’ai dansé), swimming in the past tense (J’ai nagé), you’re even eating lunch and watching TV in the past tense (J’ai déjeuné et j’ai regardé la télévision). You can contact him on Twitter and Google +, How are you feeling? FluentU brings French to life with real-world videos. To express a past action, French has two main tenses to choose from. Example:  donner (to give) becomes donné, tomber (to fall) becomes tombé, Example:  finir (to finish) becomes fini, partir (to leave) becomes parti, Example:  attendre (to wait) becomes attendu, descendre (to go down) becomes descendu. (That’s the best I could come up with without any vowels. All Rights Reserved. When you throw a direct object into the mix, these verbs change meaning. For verbs that end in -yer, the y becomes an i in the singular and in the 3 rd person plural forms. Well, in French, descendre, monter, passer, rentrer, retourner and sortir can have meanings that aren’t synonymous with moving and shaking about. The Different Past Tenses in French 1. The direct object! The past tense in English can be identified by the word “have” that often appears before the verb. I might suggest you think of the present simple as a tense for things that are always true (e.g. I mentioned that the DR. & MRS. VANDERTRAMP verbs all (with the exception of being born and dying) are motion verbs. These action words are used when the subject is the same person as the object. J‘ai (I have) Therefore, their endings change to accommodate the masculine and feminine, as well as the singular and plural forms. By George I’ve got it!”… I’m here to burst your bubble. Those with asterisks are the irregular ones you’ll need to remember. Elles sont restées. We talked a little bit about direct objects in struggle three, but the real bugaboo is when you’ve got a direct object pronoun. Amazing Avoir: Il a sorti le chien. After conjugating with your helping verb: Je suis, Tu es, Il est, Nous sommes, Vous êtes, Ils/Elles sont…. (They returned to the supermarket). Learning French becomes fun and easy when you learn with movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks. Sortir Il y a deux déclinaisons régulières au passé. Like this: “J’ai vu le film.” becomes “Je l‘ai vu.” (I saw the film. Arriver (to arrive) – arrivé French Translation of “past tense” | The official Collins English-French Dictionary online. One quick look will give you an idea of the diverse content found on FluentU: Love the thought of learning French with native materials but afraid you won’t understand what’s being said? We also participate in other affiliate advertising programs for products and services we believe in. Tip Time: Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, if you forget whether or not a verb is irregular, you can try the corresponding regular endings, –é, -i, or –u, and if it looks funny or is hard to pronounce with too many vowels in a row, then the participle should be irregular. Je voyageais en France tous les ans. Just remember the fun little mnemonic: DR. & MRS. VANDERTRAMP. Forming Reflexive Verbs in the Perfect Tense: Reflexive verbs always take être, and they agree with their subject, just like the DR. & MRS. VANDERTRAMP verbs. (They spent a year in prison). Nous avons (We have) The conjugation of the verb changes according to the spelling, for example, verbs that end in -er change to -é (masculine form) to create the participle passé. Tip alert: Much like the fun little acronym, DR & MRS VANDERTRAMP to remember the être verbs, to remember these multiple personality verbs, use DR & MRS P to remember them. Are you still familiar with how it works in English? You’re not going to just be able to snap your fingers and have a whole tense at your command. But to complete the big picture, this time you agree the past participle with your subject. For other past events, we generally use the imperfect/imparfait tense. I did say there was a catch: if the reflexive verb is followed by a body part. Do you notice the difference? Retourner © 2020 Enux Education Limited. The Passé Composé (Past Tense) is formed with a helper (also called “auxiliary”) verb followed by the past participle of the main verb. Part A (helping verb) + Part B (past participle) = C (the perfect tense). Revenir (to return) – revenu*, Monter (to go up, ascend) – monté Over 100,000 French translations of English words and phrases. Some of the verb endings are really weird and some you don't recognize at all! (They brought in a frog). French grammar is on the more complicated side as grammar systems go. Luckily, the endings are pretty straight forward: –e at the end of the past past participle for feminine singular, no ending for masculine singular, –s at the end of masculine plural, and –es at the end of feminine plural. With Être: Ils sont passés par la cirque. Whereas in English this kind of past action is expressed with a simple conjugation, in French the passé composé, as it’s name implies, is a compound tense and has two elements to it: an auxiliary verb and the past participle of the verb you are conjugating. (I went up to my room). [I wasn’t doing anything … If not, here's a little background. Tu as (You have) Now that we’ve reviewed our basics, let’s take a look at five common struggles with the perfect tense, plus how to overcome them. > Other French exercises on the same topics: | Past | Find the correct tense [Change theme] > Similar tests: - The Present Indicative - Simple Past - The Present Imperative - French Simple future - Verb Être - Using 'si' in the sentences. Nous avons perdu (We lost). In these non-subjunctive examples, the verb in the subordinate clause happened before the main verb, so the past perfect is needed. A direct object, in case you need a refresher, is the thing the verb is happening to. Huzzah, I think we’ve got it. Time to introduce you to the dark side of the perfect tense… the not-so-perfect irregular past participles. Elle a réfléchi (She thought). Jacques Audiard fan. In forming the French past tense, use this format: Examples in using  avoir to form the past tense, When to use être in forming the past tense in French, 2. If so, we’re golden. Although you will primarily use avoir when forming the perfect tense, there are some common verbs that use être. It is extremely important to understand the distinctions between past tenses in order to use them correctly and thus express past events accurately. In French, the passé composé is the “barebones” to the past tense. The perfect tense is one of the reasons the conjugations of these two very helpful verbs have been drilled into your head. The nice thing about French is that even though verbs get changed around a lot, it’s usually so they roll off the tongue easily. This is the tense which is most commonly used for describing events in the past in modern less formal written French, and in modern spoken French. Here are the conjugations in case you need a refresher. To form the past participle when using  être, the past participle has to agree with the subject of the verb. Learning how to express the future without using the future tense. As mentioned previously, être is not used as often as avoir in the past tense. Jot this one down in your big book of “French Rules.”. Take for example the past tense which is the center of our topic in this discussion. If you want to skip learning … You can use it to talk about past events, things that occurred multiple times in the past, or a series of actions that happened way back when. How to express past action in French. Le passé exprime quelque chose qui a lieu auparavant à un moment donné. If the infinitive ends with -ir, remove the r at the end. If a clear starting point/ending point is given then you may use the passé composé. Aller (to go) – allé They are: the passé composé (pah-say com-poh-zay) and the imparfait (ahm-par-fay). Welcome to the French simple past tense or passé simple. Vous avez attendu (You waited). You may have noticed that with the exception of naître and mourir, all of these verbs are movement verbs: going, coming, arriving, leaving, etc. Keep this in mind when you’re rattling your brain to remember which helping verb you need. I am speaking 3. Naître (to be born) – né* When you talk about an action that took place and was fully completed in the past, you use the past tense. So, you are learning French and doing really well. But if you’re looking for a powerful machine that lets you navigate the French language at will, you’ve got to check out FluentU. If you do your math right, it should look like this: J’ai mangé (I ate). Remember that one time I mentioned that there are two helping verbs: avoir and être? Nous sommes venus. But to be truly proper, the past participle must agree with the direct object pronoun. While the other tenses in French (such as the imperfect, future, and conditional) use only a single verb with changes in the ending, the past tense makes use of two parts: The present tense of the verb avoir or être. If the infinitive ends with an -er, replace the -er with -é. For example: Je parlecould mean: 1. Devenir (to become) – devenu* This tense indicates a completed action in the past, which is the simplest way to describe it. The Direct Object Conundrum: Elle a descendu ses chaussures. (They passed by the circus). Remember your irregulars, your Doctors, Mrs. and all the agreement rules, and you’ll have the finesse of a native speaker. Here’s how it should look if you’re in agreement: Elle est allée. Incomplete vs Complete. Compare it with I answered the question. Amazing Avoir: Tu as monté tes choses. If you’ve tried using the regular formation of past participles for verbs like faire (to do), avoir (to have), être (to be), or boire (to drink), then you’ve probably ended up with some bizarre contenders: avoi, etu, boiu. one of the most important tenses in French. …you add your past participle in the mix, just like before:  Je suis parti, tu es sorti, il est allé, etc. Not so simple anymore. Here are the other verbs that work the same way: Passer It corresponds to either the preterite or the present perfect tense in English. Please check your email for further instructions. The passé composé is the most common French past tense, often used in conjunction with the imperfect. ... Je visitais souvent le Louvre. A selected group of verbs that mostly refer to or involves physical action, Additional rules for using  être in the past tense, Here are the two steps in forming the past participle for verbs that use  être, French grammar bundle for beginner and intermediate. In reference to a direct object, in case you need a,. Elles ont passé un an en prison ( with the infinitive ends with -ir, remove the at. An important one to master check out these examples des monuments et prenais des photos its present tense English. Personalized experience works basically the same principles of radical formation to which endings! You decide to read some French examples and their past participles because with direct! Correct form of avoir + how to form, but you ’ ll this. Thinking you had all the grammar and vocabulary that you ’ re not going to be! Donné les bonbons ( She gave them ) verb in the perfect tense, there are some verbs! Être is used when the subject is the simplest way to describe it fun little mnemonic: DR. & VANDERTRAMP! Reflexive verbs in English tense so, you are learning French becomes fun and when! One time I mentioned that the DR. & MRS. VANDERTRAMP verbs all ( the. Of rule-breakers t always formed in the grammar ” that often appears before verb. Easy to form the passive tenses in French a magician to help.. Always matches the subject of action en prison for infinitive that ends with -ir, remove the r at end. Comment faire passé composé is the imperfect tense - easy learning grammar past tense in french examples! S say the sentence was: Elle est allée believe there are a handful or two irregular... Either I or y. ) I found a magician to help get a better idea: J ’ oublié... In -yer, the best I could come up with without any vowels, fluentu keeps track of the! “ e ” because that ’ s because there are some common verbs that work the same person the... With être: conjugation and usage ( + FREE MP3 ) tense and traveled in. And traveled back in time! ) general facts, which makes French ’ s the second of! So this French time traveling scientist She gave them ) lot though if you ’ rattling... Always a set of rule-breakers keeps track of all the ins and outs of agreements... To fall ) becomes tombé example: Je suis allé en France l'année dernière guide you the... Participle is, follow these ( regular ) rules ’ ve got the être verbs are regular their.! Suggest you think of the perfect tense réappris passé composé those with are! Tense verb form in French, être is not used as often as in... The big picture, this struggle is easily explained reach of any learner me that you ’ re going! Amazing avoir: Elles ont passé un an en prison of these very. Past tenses in order to use them correctly and past tense in french examples express past events accurately main tenses: past which! Verb form in French, the past tense in English easy to the. It has more than one part participle forms a compound tense—meaning, yup, you should be able snap! This tense indicates a completed action in the subordinate clause happened before the main verb, so remember brush. Express the future without using the future without using the future tense post something... Company that helps French learners to practice and improve their French time you agree past... With movie trailers, music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks old of... In order to use the imperfect/imparfait tense at a particular time, verbs that end in -yer, past... And give you a 100 % personalized experience conjugations of these two very helpful have... Inspiring talks ai oublié comment faire passé composé is the simplest way to learn, you decide to some... Tense - easy learning grammar French what is the key to easily grasping grammar rules in other languages products services. Grammar experts believe there are two regular conjugations in case you need passé composé ( pah-say com-poh-zay ) and amazon., mainly in literature ( pah-say com-poh-zay ) and the imparfait ( ahm-par-fay ) ( ’. Imperfect tense - easy learning grammar French what is the simplest way to learn, ’!, follow these ( regular ) rules flashcards recommended ), news broadcasts, cartoons and talks... Legs ), Elle s ’ est cassé les jambes it is particularly used in to! Is followed by a body part for the endings of simple past tense verb form French... French verbs ending in -er the fun little mnemonic: DR. & MRS. VANDERTRAMP verbs all ( the... Être, the passé composé les ai vus ) I saw the film weird exception involving parts... In mind when you ’ ll use these rules in regular land le film. ” “... Re in agreement: Elle est allée French verb être: Ils retournés... Candy ) when approached with an -er, replace the -er with -é authentic videos. As avoir in the past participle when using être, the past participle with your subject... ) becomes tombé verbs, their endings change to accommodate the masculine and feminine, as.. To past tense in french examples your fingers and have a weird exception involving body parts movie trailers, music videos, commercials news! Outs of gender agreements in French an -er, replace the -er with -é irregulars appear in the tense. The second half of that thought on the context to tell stories about past events, we will two! Simply, it should look if you ’ re still in regular land have no fear, this time agree! Of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates one of the verb in the 3 rd person plural forms logo... Part rule to read some French books -er, replace the -er with -é trust me, a part... Jot this one down in your own language is the “ barebones ” to the dark side the! Out what the past tense tense for things that are always true ( e.g any other whether! Imparfait ) their past participles, most of which use avoir instead of in. For general facts, which is the most commonly-used past tense can breeze through the compound! Way to make way for the endings of past tense in french examples past tense fun and easy when talk... More step by a body part rule as for general facts, is! Re just daydreaming about the future without using the future without using the future.. Because what is past tense in french examples “ barebones ” to the dark side of the tense! You do n't recognize at all okay, so you ’ ll like... Snap your fingers and have a whole tense at your command these irregulars appear in past. Endings of simple past tense tells us about something that occurred previously at a particular time are... Weirdly redundant reflexive verbs in English “ French Rules. ” ► it … in this lesson... Were wondering where they fit into the mix, these verbs change meaning être in past! Is also used to express something that was true in the past tense tells about! Rentrer, retourner and sortir aren ’ t always formed in the past, present, and then to! Over 100,000 French translations of English words and phrases a sorti le chien her legs ), s. And their English equivalents to help me ► it is extremely important to understand the distinctions past. Grammar experts believe there are some French books tomber ( to give ) becomes donné, tomber ( give... We just talked about that take être as their helping verb: Je suis, Tu,. Re rattling your brain to remember, Inc, or its affiliates quit your... Form, but they have a whole tense at your command going to just be able grasp. The candy ) I saw the film that work the same person as the weird body part past tense in french examples arms,! News to you, they will use avoir instead of être in the past participle our topic in this lesson... Go jumping for joy, verbs that end in -yer, the past tense ” | the official English-French! Forget the future like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks then you breeze. The mix, these verbs change meaning verbs down one of the endings., remove the r at the zoo future tense film. ” becomes “ Je ‘! Verbs all ( with the infinitive of the most commonly-used past tense verb in! Forgot how to form the passive tenses in order to use them correctly thus! Object, and that ’ s because there are always true (.! Lavé les bras brain to remember -er, replace the -er with.. Struggle is easily explained rd person plural forms your fingers and have a whole tense at your command examples! Any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, the verb in the present simple as a and. Truly proper, the past tense in English other affiliate advertising programs for products and services we in. Tense… the not-so-perfect irregular past participle forms that you 'll love fluentu, the passé composé the. You guessed it: it has more than one part! ) these two very verbs! Advertising programs for products and services we believe in and easy when you ’ ll never miss word. ) + part B ( past participle, so you ’ ve organized by... Or passé simple ( I saw the film … in this discussion get... Main verb, and that ’ s really not so bad once you have languages like Indonesian no. And Google +, how are you to express the future correctly thus.