Memorizing For Written Exams – Passé composé

http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/passecompose.htm

The French passé composé (present perfect) tense has three possible English equivalents. For example, j’ai dansé can mean: I danced (simple past), I have danced (present perfect), I did dance (past emphatic). The take-away, for me, is that unlike imperfect, the action is completed in the past.

Mnemonic (Key Visual) – A composer says, “I have spoken!”, to his Avon selling son.

present-perfect

avoir verbs – j’ai, tu as, il a, nous avons, vous avez, ils ont + (past participle) (i.e. parlé )

être verbs – je suis, tu es, il est, nous sommes, vous êtes, ils sont + past participle

The following is a list of verbs that use être and avoir (for intransitive and transitive usages, respectively) as their auxiliary verbs in passé composé:

Devenir – to become – devenu
Revenir – to come back – revenu
Monter – to go up – monté
Rester – to stay – resté
Sortir– to exit – sorti
Passer – to pass by (this case only) – passé
Venir – to come – venu
Aller – to go – allé
Naître – to be born – né
Descendre – to descend – descendu
Entrer – to enter – entré
Retourner – to return – retourné
Tomber – to fall – tombé
Rentrer- to re-enter- rentré
Arriver – to arrive – arrivé
Mourir – to die – mort
Partir – to leave – parti

Students often remember this list using the acronym DR and MRS P. VANDERTRAMP. In addition to these, at least one other verb is conjugated with être: Décéder – to decease – décédé

The verbs that use être as an auxiliary verb are intransitive verbs that usually indicate motion or change of state. Since some of these verbs can be used as a transitive verb as well, they will instead take avoir as an auxiliary in those instances; e.g. Il a sorti un outil pour le réparer.

Another visual aid that students often use, from Wikipedia, of the 17 verbs that conjugate with the être verb. Click the little icon and you’ll be transported to Wikipedia and the image:

You may also like to review the presentation on this link:

http://www.cliffsnotes.com/foreign-languages/french/french-ii/french-ii-past-tenses/the-passe-compose

Note – Most irregular French verbs have irregular past participles. Important past participles:

Infinitive Translation Past Participle
avoir to have eu
boire to drink bu
connaître to know connu
croire to believe cru
devoir to have to
dire to say dit
écrire to write écrit
être to be été
faire to do fait
lire to read lu
mettre to put mis
ouvrir to open ouvert
pouvoir to be able to pu
prendre to take pris
recevoir to receive reçu
savoir to know su
suivre to follow suivi
tenir to hold tenu
voir to see vu
vouloir to want voulu

Complete the quizzes below (there are two, the first is for avoir verbs and the second for être verbs), and when you have completed it correctly, you will have mastered passé composé.

http://laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/tap2.html

For Kindle users, I have listed the questions, with the correct answers below (scroll down after writing down your answers, to see the questions and answers).

Questions (for avoir verbs)

1. Fiona: Corey, est-ce que tu ______ de l’insecticide? (boire)
2. Tex: J’ ______ de nouveaux poèmes. (écrire)
3. Tex et Edouard ______ le match de foot. (regarder)
4. Tex et Tammy ______ des amis hier soir. (rencontrer)
5. Tammy ______ beaucoup de crêpes pour la fête. (préparer)
6. Tex ______ visite à Paw-Paw. (rendre)
7. Tammy et Bette ______ du shopping hier. (faire)
8. right/wrong Tammy: Corey et Joe-Bob, est-ce que vous ______ mes devoirs dans le frigo? (voir)
9. Tammy et Bette: Nous ______ n’est-ce pas, Tex? (mincir)
10. Tammy: Joe-Bob, est-ce que tu ______ la leçon? (comprendre)
11. right/wrong Les étudiants ______ à Tex. (ne pas obéir)
12. right/wrong Fiona: Alors, est-ce qu’on ______ le film? (aimer)

Questions with Answers (for avoir verbs)

1. Fiona: Corey, est-ce que tu ______ de l’insecticide? (boire)
correct answer: as bu
2. Tex: J’ ______ de nouveaux poèmes. (écrire)
correct answer: ai écrit
3. Tex et Edouard ______ le match de foot. (regarder)
correct answer: ont regardé
4. Tex et Tammy ______ des amis hier soir. (rencontrer)
correct answer: ont rencontré
5. Tammy ______ beaucoup de crêpes pour la fête. (préparer)
correct answer: a préparé
6. Tex ______ visite à Paw-Paw. (rendre)
correct answer: a rendu
7. Tammy et Bette ______ du shopping hier. (faire)
correct answer: ont fait
8. right/wrong Tammy: Corey et Joe-Bob, est-ce que vous ______ mes devoirs dans le frigo? (voir)
correct answer: avez vu
9. Tammy et Bette: Nous ______ n’est-ce pas, Tex? (mincir)
correct answer: avons minci
10. Tammy: Joe-Bob, est-ce que tu ______ la leçon? (comprendre)
correct answer: as compris
11. right/wrong Les étudiants ______ à Tex. (ne pas obéir)
correct answer: n’ont pas obéi
12. right/wrong Fiona: Alors, est-ce qu’on ______ le film? (aimer)
correct answer: a aimé

Questions (for être verbs)

1. Tammy ______ en France il y a un an. (aller)
2. Edouard ______ en retard, comme toujours. (arriver)
3. Hier Tammy ______ dans le cours d’aérobique ‘step’. (tomber)
4. right/wrong Fiona: Moi, je ______ à la maison hier soir. (rester)
5. Fiona: Corey et Joe-Bob, vous ______ très tard après la fête. (rentrer)
6. Tammy et Bette ______ ensemble. (venir)
7. Les enfants de Rita ______ en mai. (naître)
8. Tammy: Tex, pourquoi est-ce que tu ______ avec Bette? (partir)
9. Tex: Mes parents ______ sur l’autoroute. (mourir)
10. right/wrong Tex: Je ______ une fois avec une fille qui s’appelle Marianne. (sortir)
11. Après la guerre, Paw-Paw ______ héros. (devenir)
12. Tex et Tammy ______ au rez-de-chaussée. (descendre)

Questions and Answers (for être verbs)

1. Tammy ______ en France il y a un an. (aller)
correct answer: est allée
2. Edouard ______ en retard, comme toujours. (arriver)
correct answer: est arrivé
3. Hier Tammy ______ dans le cours d’aérobique ‘step’. (tomber)
correct answer: est tombée
4. right/wrong Fiona: Moi, je ______ à la maison hier soir. (rester)
correct answer: suis restée
5. Fiona: Corey et Joe-Bob, vous ______ très tard après la fête. (rentrer)
correct answer: êtes rentrés
6. Tammy et Bette ______ ensemble. (venir)
correct answer: sont venues
7. Les enfants de Rita ______ en mai. (naître)
correct answer: sont nés
8. Tammy: Tex, pourquoi est-ce que tu ______ avec Bette? (partir)
correct answer: es parti
9. Tex: Mes parents ______ sur l’autoroute. (mourir)
correct answer: sont morts
10. right/wrong Tex: Je ______ une fois avec une fille qui s’appelle Marianne. (sortir)
correct answer: suis sorti
11. Après la guerre, Paw-Paw ______ héros. (devenir)
correct answer: est devenu
12. Tex et Tammy ______ au rez-de-chaussée. (descendre)
correct answer: sont descendus

Concept Test #33 – Passé Composé with Pronomial Verbs (Reflexive)

http://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/tap4.html

Give the passé composé of the verb indicated in parentheses.

  1. Tammy: Hier soir, Tex et moi, nous ______ près de la rivière. (se promener)
  2. Corey ______ très vite ce matin. (s’habiller)
  3. Joe-Bob:Je ______ en classe aujourd’hui. (s’endormir)
  4. Bette et Tammy ______ au gymnase. (s’amuser)
  5. Fiona: Tex et Tammy, est-ce que vous ______ ? (se marier)
  6. Tex: Joe-Bob, est-ce que tu ______ en cours aujourd’hui? (s’ennuyer)
  7. Tammy ______ contre Tex à la fête. (se fâcher)
  8. Edouard et Tex ______ après la course. (se reposer)
  9. Tammy: Qu’est-ce qui ______ à l’arrêt d’autobus? (se passer)
  10. Bette ______ à côté de Tex. (s’asseoir)
  11. Bette: Je ______ cent fois ce matin. (se laver)
  12. Joe-Bob et Corey ______ très tard. (se coucher)

The rules:

  • A pronominal verb is a verb which has a reflexive pronoun, that is, a pronoun referring back to its subject. These verbs are easily recognized by the pronoun se before the infinitive: se lever, se laver, se promener, etc.
  • In the passé composé, pronominal verbs are conjugated with être as their auxiliary, the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous, se) precedes the auxiliary.
  • In the negative, the ne precedes the reflexive pronoun and the pas follows the auxiliary.

Concept Test #30 – Passé Composé with être

http://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/tap3.html

Give the passé composé of the verb indicated in parentheses.

  1. Tammy ______ en France il y a un an. (aller)
  2. Edouard ______ en retard, comme toujours. (arriver)
  3. Hier Tammy ______ dans le cours d’aérobique ‘step’. (tomber)
  4. Fiona: Moi, je ______ à la maison hier soir. (rester)
  5. Fiona: Corey et Joe-Bob, vous ______ très tard après la fête. (rentrer)
  6. Tammy et Bette ______ ensemble. (venir)
  7. Les enfants de Rita ______ en mai. (naître)
  8. Tammy: Tex, pourquoi est-ce que tu ______ avec Bette? (partir)
  9. Tex: Mes parents ______ sur l’autoroute. (mourir)
  10. Tex: Je ______ une fois avec une fille qui s’appelle Marianne. (sortir)
  11. Après la guerre, Paw-Paw ______ héros. (devenir)
  12. Tex et Tammy ______ au rez-de-chaussée. (descendre)

The rules:

  • This tense is called the passé composé because it is composed of two elements: the present tense of an auxiliary verb (either avoir or être), followed by a past participle.
  • In most instances the auxiliary verb is avoir, but some verbs require être as the auxiliary. This section we focus on être.
  • For regular verbs with an infinitive ending in -er, the past participle is formed by replacing the final -er of the infinitive with –é, an infinitive ending in -ir is formed by dropping the final -r from the infinitive, an infinitive ending in -re is formed by replacing the final -re of the infinitive with –u.
  • There are 17 être verbs, with five irregular ones: venir, devenir, revenir, naitre, and mourir.

Pluperfect, Passé Composé, Past Imperfect and Past Simple

http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/pastperfect.htm

The French past perfect, or pluperfect, (plus-que-parfait) is used to indicate an action in the past that occurred before another action in the past. The latter can be either mentioned in the same sentence or implied.

Il n’avait pas mangé (avant de faire ses devoirs).       
He hadn’t eaten (before doing his homework).

J’étais déjà sorti (quand tu as téléphoné).
I had already left (when you called).

The pluperfect is also used in si clauses to express a hypothetical situation in the past contrary to what actually happened:

Si tu m’avais demandé, j’aurais répondu.
If you had asked me, I would have answered.

Nous y serions allés si nous avions su.
We would have gone if we had known.

The French past perfect is a compound conjugation, which means it has two parts:

  1. imperfect of the auxiliary verb (either avoir or être)
  2. past participle of the main verb

Note: Like all French compound conjugations, the past perfect may be subject to grammatical agreement:

  • When the auxiliary verb is être, the past participle must agree with the subject
  • When the auxiliary verb is avoir, the past participle may have to agree with its direct object
French Past Perfect Verb Conjugations
AIMER (auxiliary verb is avoir)
j’ avais aimé nous avions aimé
tu avais aimé vous aviez aimé
il, elle avait aimé ils, elles avaient aimé
DEVENIR (être verb)
j’ étais devenu(e) nous étions devenu(e)s
tu étais devenu(e) vous étiez devenu(e)(s)
il était devenu ils étaient devenus
elle était devenue elles étaient devenues
SE LAVER (pronominal verb)
je m’étais lavé(e) nous nous étions lavé(e)s
tu t’étais lavé(e) vous vous étiez lavé(e)(s)
il s’était lavé ils s’étaient lavés
elle s’était lavée elles s’étaient lavées

There are other forms of the past in French. Let me introduce you to a visual mnemonic for past perfect/pluperfect:

Pluperfect/Past Perfect (plus-que-parfait) – Ava had flown Avions to the EU, and the ETA was pluperfect, EZ and convenient.

Past Perfect

The pluperfect is the tense which gave me the most trouble when conjugating. It doesn’t help that it is also known as the Past Perfect (which means it contains the past participle element, which means there are two auxiliary verb conjugations to worry about). There are two words which anchor the mnemonic, Avions and Pluperfect. Either one, for me, triggers the entire mnemonic, which in turn solves the riddle of the conjugation, and the English equivalents.

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In the Passé Composé (Present Perfect in English) form, many verbs conjugate with être, and must match in gender and number of persons. Passé Composé is the most common French past tense, and expresses an action completed in the past, repeated a number of times in the past, or a series of actions completed in the past. The equivalent of Passé Composé in English, is the simple past (I danced), present perfect (I have danced) and past emphatic (I did dance).

The Passé Composé uses “avoir” for every verb except 17 verbs that use “être”. There is a memory tool…DR MRS VANDERTRAMPP (Devenir Revenir Monter Rester Sortir Venir Aller Naître Descendre Entrer Retourner Tomber Rentrer Arriver Mourir Partir), and it’s easier to memorize these verbs than to make sense of anything else. Many teachers rely on this picture:

passcompose with etre

http://www.cliffsnotes.com/foreign-languages/french/french-ii/french-ii-past-tenses/the-passe-compose

There is even a song for learning the 17 verbs that use “être”:

http://www.frenchlearner.com/songs/dr-mrs-vandertramp/

The forms of Être (to be) that we are most likely to encounter, for the most common verb conjugations, are as follows:

Present – Je suis, Tu es, Il est, Nous sommes, Vous êtes, ils sont
Future – Je serai, Tu seras, Il sera, Nous serons, Vous serez, Ils seront
Imperfect – Je étais, Tu étais, Il était, Nou étions, Vous étiez, Ils étaient
Subjunctive – Je sois, Tu sois, Il soit, Nous soyons, Vous soyez, Ils soient
Conditional – Je serais, Tu serais, Il serait, Nous serions, Vous seriez, Ils seraient
Passé Simple – Je fus, Tu fus, Il fut, Nous fûmes, Vous fûtes, Ils furent
Imperative – Tu sois, Nous soyons, Vous soyez
Present Participle – étant
Past Participle – été
Auxiliary Verb – avoir

Verbs that conjugate with Être are: aller, arriver, descendre, devenir, entrer, monter, mourir, naître, partir, rentrer, rester, retourner, revenir, sortir, tomber and venir.

The forms of Avoir (to have) that we are most likely to encounter are as follows:

Present – J’ai, Tu as, Il a, Nous avons, Vous avez, ils ont
Future – Je aurai, Tu auras, Il aura, Nous aurons, Vous aurez, Ils auront
Imperfect – Je avais, Tu avais, Il avait, Nou avions, Vous aviez, Ils avaient
Subjunctive – Je aie, Tu aies, Il ait, Nous ayons, Vous ayez, Ils aient
Conditional – Je aurais, Tu aurais, Il aurait, Nous aurions, Vous auriez, Ils auraient
Passé Simple – Je eus, Tu eus, Ile eut, Nous eûmes, Vous eûtes, Ils eurent
Imperative – Tu aie, Nous ayons, Vous ayez
Present Participle – ayant
Past Participle – eu
Auxiliary Verb – avoir

Many idioms use avoir, and the meaning differs from “to have” and can often be confused with “to be”. The “Il y a” expressions are often confusing for this reason. “Il y a” means “there is” or “there are” although “a” is the conjugated “to have”.

In the Passé Composé, Être and Avoir are used with the imperfect form of other verbs, to create compound tenses that describe past actions which have completed.

There are irregular Passé Composé verbs, covered here:

Here is a visual mnemonic for Passé Composé:

Present Perfect (passé composé) – A composer says, “I have spoken!”, to his Avon selling son.

Present Perfect

 

This visual not only tells you the English equivalent, but reminds you that an accent mark at the end of the past particle tells you that it is one of the perfect tenses. You will see this tense so often, that you will probably have no problem with the je, tu, il, and vous conjugations, but you may be tricked by the nous and ils conjugations. The mnemonic addresses that with Avon and son, color linking mnemonic words to the conjugations.

We’ve now coverered Past Perfect (Pluperfect), and Passé Composé. There is also Past Imperfect.

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Normally the Past Imperfect describes actions that are on-going. A good example of this is the Past Imperfect, “je mangeais”, which means I was eating (on going action). The Passé Composé version, “j’ai mangé”, translates to the English equivalent Present Perfect of “I have eaten”, and the action is completed. That’s the simplest way to differentiate between Passé Composé and Past Imperfect.

Here is a visual mnemoic for the Past Imperfect (imparfait):

Imperfect (imparfait) – She was eating a parfait, it is imperfect, how I-ronic.

Imperfect

For an American, a parfait is something they sell at McDonald’s, and it contains yogurt or ice cream, and is adorned with nuts, syrup, etc. What could be more perfect? The irony is that as “she” was eating one, it is imperfect, and therefore ironic. The mnemonic attempts to reveal the conjugation trickery of the Imperfect tense. Through the use of colors, the strange “a” that appears in je, tu, il and ils is shown. The “is” and “it” are revealed in the je, tu, and il conjugations, and finally, the word I-ronic reminds the conjugator, to make sure they slip an “i” into each conjugation.

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The final past tense in French is one that is used mainly in literature, and it is Passé Simple.

Passé Simple is a third tense used to describe past actions, and is described as being the literary equivalent of Passé Composé, because it is used in formal writing and formal speech. Passé Simple will often look strange, and the verbs are conjugated dependant on the verb’s endings (ER, IR/RE, and irregular).

ER Ending verbs – drop ER and add…

Je –ai, Tu – as, Il – a, Nous – âmes, Vous – âtes, Ils – èrent

IR/RE Ending verbs – drop the IR/RE and add…

Je – is, Tu – is, Il – it, Nous – îmes, Vous – îtes, Ils – irent

Irregular verbs:

s’assseoir            s’ass-
mettre                  m-
conduire              conduis-
naître                    naqu-
dire                        d-
peindre                peign-
prendre                pr-
écrire                    écriv-
faire                       f-
rire                         r-
joindre                 joign-
voir                        v-

Let me give you a visual mnemonic for this tense as well:

Past Simple (passé  simple) – Simple paid past-times, test a rented SST

Past Simple

This was the most difficult mnemonic to create, and also the most intricate one. This mnemonic is not as intuitive as the others, and may require you to use it several times before it’s automatic. The mnemonic does contain all of the conjugations for -er verbs, as seen by the colors. The ending triggers the peculiar -ir and -re verb conjugations for je, tu, and Il/elle/on. Notice the accent above the “Nous” and “Vous” conjugations? I have no idea how to trigger that in this mnemonic, so you simply have to note that the accent makes the Past Simple not that simple.