French verbs using ÊTRE in passé composé
On my last post, I talked about how to form the passé composé. Today, I will teach you which verbs use ÊTRE as an auxiliary verb when conjugated in passé composé.
Verbs of movement
Most French verbs use AVOIR as an auxiliary verb when conjugated in passé composé (or plus-que-parfait), but fewer verbs use the auxiliary verb ÊTRE.
On this infographic, called “La maison d’être“, you will find French verbs that require the use of ÊTRE.
Note that all these verbs describe a kind of movement. In French, they are called: verbes de mouvement.
More to read after infographic ⬇️
- entrer = to enter, go inside, go in
- rentrer = to go back in, come back in, come home
- sortir = to go out
- partir = to leave
- arriver = to arrive
- monter = to go up, climb up, get on
- descendre = to go down, get off
- aller = to go
- venir = to come
- naître = to be born
- mourir = to die
- rester = to stay, remain
- passer = to pass, drop by, come over
- tomber = to fall (down, over)
- retourner = to go back, return
- revenir = to come back
In addition, you also have the verbs that are derived from the verbs above, like:
- ressortir = to go/come out again
- repartir = to leave again
- remonter = to go back up
- redescendre = to come back down, come down again
- devenir = to become
- parvenir = to reach, manage
- intervenir = to step in, take place
- redevenir = to become again, be again
- renaître = to be reborn, rise
- repasser = to pop by again
- retomber = to fall again
You maybe think now that this is a lot of verbs to memorise, but pick up the ones you use the most and start from there!
The infographic above should help you as well to memorise them.
You also have other tricks to remember those verbs. Try this acronym, to memorise the most used verbs: ADVENT. Each letter of ADVENT stands for a verb and its opposite (almost):
- Arriver / Partir
- Descendre / Monter
- Venir / Aller
- Entrer / Sortir
- Naître / Mourir
- Tomber / Rester
You can also try this acronym, which includes more verbs: DR & MRS VANDERTRAMP
- Partir / Passer
A few verbs can be conjugated with both AVOIR and ÊTRE
Note that all of the movement verbs are intransitive. It means that they don’t have any direct object.
However, some of these verbs can be used with a direct object (transitive), and in that case they will use the auxiliary verb AVOIR.
Be careful, the meaning of the verb will slightly change.
- Il est monté dans le train. / Il a monté les valises.
- –> He got on the train. / He carried the suitcases upstairs.
- Elle est passée par la banque. / Elle a passé un examen.
- –> She stopped by the bank. / She sat an exam.
- Il est descendu. / Il a descendu l’escalier.
- –> He went downstairs. / He went down the stairs.
In addition to the movement verbs, all the reflexive verbs also use the auxiliary verb ÊTRE.
SE laver, SE lever, SE marier, etc.
It’s important not to forget the reflexive pronouns!
- Je me suis lavé(e)
- Tu t’es lavé(e)
- Il s’est lavé
- Elle s’est lavée
- Nous nous sommes lavé(e)s
- Vous vous êtes lavé(e)(s)
- Ils se sont lavés
- Elles se sont lavées
Another thing you have to think about with the reflexive verbs, but also with the movement verbs is that the past participle has to agree in gender and number with the subject.
- Je me suis marié / je me suis mariée
- Tu t’es marié / tu t’es mariée
- Il s’est marié / Elle s’est mariée
- On s’est mariés / On s’est mariées
- Nous nous sommes mariés / Nous nous sommes mariées
- Vous vous êtes marié (Monsieur) / Vous vous êtes mariée (Madame)
- Vous vous êtes mariés / Vous vous êtes mariées
- Ils se sont mariés / Elles se sont mariées
I know, it’s much easier to conjugate with the auxiliary verb AVOIR! But have in mind that most of the verbs use AVOIR, and with a little bit of training, you’ll get used to ÊTRE as well!
Bon courage !
You might be interested in my learning pack that includes a 45 min video explaining how to use passé composé and imparfait: PASSÉ COMPOSÉ & IMPARFAIT