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Regular / Irregular / Conjugations / Tenses

French Passé Composé

The passé composé is the most used past tense in the French language. It is used to express actions that have been finished at either the time of the speech or at some time in the past. It is formed by conjugating either avoir or être in the present tense (= the auxiliary verb) and by adding the past participle of the verb. Example: j'ai vu. In English it can be translated by either the simple past tense I saw or the present perfect tense I have seen.

Auxiliary Verb - Avoir

Most french verbs use the auxiliary verb avoir to form the passé composé.

-er verbs

-ir verbs

-re verbs

ai parlé
ai fini
ai vendu
as parlé
as fini
as vendu
a parlé
a fini
a vendu
avons parlé
avons fini
avons vendu
avez parlé
avez fini
avez vendu
ont parlé
ont fini
ont vendu

-er verbs

j'ai parlé

tu as parlé

il/elle/on a parlé

nous avons parlé

vous avez parlé

ils/elles ont parlé

-ir verbs

j'ai fini

tu as fini

il/elle/on a fini

nous avons fini

vous avez fini

ils/elles ont fini

-re verbs

j'ai vendu

tu as vendu

il/elle/on a vendu

nous avons vendu

vous avez vendu

ils/elles ont vendu

Auxiliary Verb - Être

Verbs that use the auxiliary verb être to form the passé composé are called intransitive verbs. They usually indicate motion or a change of state. Examples: aller, arriver, descendre, devenir, entrer, monter, mourir, naître, partir, rentrer, rester, retourner, revenir, sortir, tomber and venir.

-er verbs

-ir verbs

-re verbs

suis entré(e)
suis parti(e)
suis descendu(e)
es entré(e)
es parti(e)
es descendu(e)
est entré(e)
est parti(e)
est descendu(e)
sommes entré(e)s
sommes parti(e)s
sommes descendu(e)s
êtes entré(e)(s)
êtes parti(e)(s)
êtes descendu(e)(s)
sont entré(e)s
sont parti(e)s
sont descendu(e)s

-er verbs

j'suis entré(e)

tu es entré(e)

il/elle/on est entré(e)

nous sommes entré(e)s

vous êtes entré(e)(s)

ils/elles sont entré(e)s

-ir verbs

j'suis parti(e)

tu es parti(e)

il/elle/on est parti(e)

nous sommes parti(e)s

vous êtes parti(e)(s)

ils/elles sont parti(e)s

-re verbs

j'suis descendu(e)

tu es descendu(e)

il/elle/on est descendu(e)

nous sommes descendu(e)s

vous êtes descendu

ils/elles sont descendu(e)s

Other verbs that use être as an auxiliary verb are all the reflexive verbs. Examples: s'appeler, s'asseoir, s'asseoir, se coucher, se doucher, se fatiguer, se nourrir, se peigner, se retourner.

Être and Avoir

Some verbs can take both être and avoir as auxiliary verb, but the meaning will change.


  • Il est sorti. - He went out.
  • Il a sorti une pomme de sa poche. - He took an apple out of his pocket.
  • Je me suis lavé. - I washed myself.
  • J'ai lavé le chat. - I washed the cat.

To Agree with the Subject - Être

With être, the verb endings will usually change, to agree with the subject. You will need to add an extra e for feminine subjects and an extra s for plural ones.


  • La voiture est entrée dans le garage. - The car drove into the garage.
  • Mes amis sont venus hier. - My friends came yesterday.
  • Mes amies sont venues hier. - My friends (all female) came yesterday.

To Agree with the Subject - Reflexive Verbs

With reflexive verbs, you only need to agree with the subject when the reflexive pronoun is a direct object. You can recognize a direct object by asking yourself: who or what (the verb)? In the following two sentences the reflexive pronouns "elle" and "nous" are both direct objects, because they are answers to the questions "Who bathed?" (elle) and "Who got dressed" (nous).


  • Elle s'est baignée. - She bathed.
  • Nous nous sommes habillés. - We got dressed.

You do not need to agree reflexive verbs with the subject when the reflexive pronoun is an indirect object. Indirect objects are the answers to the questions "to/by/for whom the direct object". You need to have a direct object to be able to have an indirect object. In the following two sentences "elle" and "ils" are both indirect objects. The direct objects in these two sentences are the answers to the questions "What did she brush?" (les cheveux) and "What did they buy?" (un chien). The indirect objects are the answers to the questions "By whom was the hair brushed?" (elle) and "By whom was the dog bought?" (ils).


  • Elle s'est brossé les cheveux. - She brushed her hair.
  • Ils se sont acheté un chien. - They bought themselves a dog.

To Agree with the Subject - Avoir

With the verb avoir you only have to agree with the subject, if the direct object of the sentence comes before the verb.

Look at the following three sentences. The direct object (What have I eaten?) is "les fraises", a feminine plural noun. In sentence 1, "les fraises" come after the verb, so you don't need to agree. In sentence 2, it comes before, so you need an extra es. In sentence 3, "les", which replaces "les fraises", also comes before the verb, so again, you need the extra es.

  1. J'ai mangé les fraises. - I ate the strawberries.
  2. Ce sont les fraises que j'ai mangées. - These are the strawberries I ate.
  3. Je ne les ai pas mangées. - I didn't eat them.

Agreement with the Past Participle of "Faire"

When using the verb "faire" followed by an infinitive, the past participle "fait" is always invariable, even if the direct object comes before the verb.


  • Les bouteilles que j'ai fait tomber. - The bottles that I made fall.
  • Les travaux que nous avons fait réaliser. - The work that we had done.
  • Elles se sont fait avoir. - They were deceived.
  • Ils se sont fait reprocher leur comportement. - They were criticized for their behavior.

When "faire" is not followed by an infinitive, the past participle "fait" agrees with the preceding direct object.


  • Les tâches qu'elle a faites. - The tasks that she did.
  • Les promesses qu'ils ont faites. - The promises that they made.