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French Past Tense

 

It’s the tense most used in conversational French referring to past actions, the equivalent to the simple past tense or perfect tense in English. I used the term past tense even though it’s called the passé composé or compound past because a new learner may not know that it’s called so, but the main point is that it’s used the same way we use the simple past tense, so the passé composé describes an action completed in the past and for actions repeated a number of times in the past. The passé composé is a compound tense and is formed using the present tense of the auxiliary verb avoir or être and the past participle of the main verb: J’ai vu ce film (I have seen that movie/ I saw that movie). Je suis allé à Paris (I have been to Paris/ I went to Paris). The passé composé is relatively easy to form, the only trick is to know the past participle of the verb, just like English (to see = voire) becomes (seen = vu) and the other thing is you should know if a certain verb is conjugated with “être” or “avoir”, usually motion verbs like “to go/ aller” “to come/ venir” are associated with “être”, the rest is associated with “avoir”.

In short, the passé composé is formed by conjugating (avoir or être) + the past participle of the verb.  Remember that (avoir or être) should be conjugated to the right person before adding the past participle to it, another thing you should know about is that the past participle of verbs associated with “être” should agree in gender and number just like adjectives, examples: Je suis allé à Paris (I went to Paris) “a male talking here” . je suis allée à Paris (I went to Paris) “a female talking”, Nous sommes allés à Paris (we went to Paris) “males talking”, Nous sommes allées à Paris (we went to Paris) “females talking. Note that we added and “e” to the feminine, an “s” to the plural masculine, and an “es” to the plural feminine.

 

French Past Tense (Passé Composé)

the pronouns and “avoir”

+ The past participle

of “to see/ voir”

= …have see/ … saw

j'ai

tu as
il/ elle a
nous avons
vous avez
ils/ elles ont

 

 

vu (seen)

j'ai vu (I have seen/ I saw)
tu as vu (you have seen/ you saw )
il/ elle a vu (he/ she has seen/ he saw)
nous avons vu (we have seen/ we saw)
vous avez vu (you guy have seen/ you saw)
ils/ elles ont vu (they have seen/ they saw)

 

the pronouns and “être”

+ The past participle

of “to go/ partir”

= …have gone/ … went

je suis

tu es

il/ elle  est

nous sommes

vous êtes

ils/ elles sont

parti(e)

parti(e)

parti(e)

parti(e)s

parti(e)s

parti(e)s

je suis parti(e) (I have gone/ I went)

tu es parti(e) (you have gone/ you went)

il/ elle  est parti(e) (he/ she has gone/ he went)

nous sommes parti(e) (we have gone/ we went)

vous êtes parti(e) (you guys have gone/ you went)

ils/ elles sont parti(e) (they have gone/ they went)

 

           

 

French Past Tense, Past Participle, French Passé Composé.

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Articles
Adjectives
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Present Tense
Past Tense
Future Tense
Imperfect
Imperative
Nouns
Pronouns
Conjunction
Negation
Subjunctive
Conditional
Comparative
Prepositions

 

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