Passé composé ⚙️

How to form the French passé composé?

The passé composé is one of the most widely used French past tenses.

This tense is a compound tense. It means that you need two verbs to conjugate it.

You will first need an auxiliary verb, either AVOIR or ÊTRE, that you conjugate in present tense.

See AVOIR or ÊTRE conjugations in the attached infographic.

Then you will need the past participle of the verb you want to conjugate in passé composé.

For example: J’ai parlé (I spoke) / Je suis allé (I went)


How to form the Past Participle?

In English, most past participles end with -ED (arrived).

In French, they mostly end with , -I, -U:

  • For all regular -ER verbs, remove the -ER from the infinitive and replace it with –> parler –> parlé
  • For all regular -IR verbs, remove the -IR from the infinitive and replace it with -I –> finir –> fini
  • For all regular -RE verbs, remove the -RE from the infinitive and replace it with -U –> vendre –> vendu


Then you have all the irregular verbs that don’t follow any pattern and that you have to learn by heart 😉

Here are some very useful verbs to know:

  • être –> été
  • avoir –> eu
  • faire –> fait
  • pouvoir –> pu
  • vouloir –> voulu


Read also: Verbs using ÊTRE in passé composé

How to form the French passé composé

  • Yann Le Flour
    Posted at 07:42h, 17 September Reply

    Just found out about your beautiful blog.
    I’m going to share this post with my students.
    One little comment would be to change the line that says that passé-composé is the english present perfect, as if it is true that both tenses look very similar, they are actually not equivalent. Passé-composé is usually referred to as the “perfect” tense in French methods and corresponds to the simple past (or preterit) in English.

    • A Cup of French
      Posted at 09:05h, 17 September Reply

      Hi Yann and thank you for your nice words. I totally agree with you regarding the present perfect. I mentioned it to put in parallel the fact that both tenses are built with an auxiliary verb and past participle. But even though both tenses are built the same way, they are not used the same way and that can be confusing. I therefore removed it from my article 😉

  • Khushi
    Posted at 13:35h, 05 March Reply

    This is a great teaching method! I as a student, find it very helpful! Thank You!!

  • Anaya Mahmood
    Posted at 00:15h, 02 November Reply


    P.S-srry for all caps 🙂

    • A Cup of French®
      Posted at 17:00h, 02 November Reply

      Merci beaucoup ! 🙂
      I’m glad my blog can help you on your French learning journey! 😉

Post A Comment

* Checkbox GDPR is required


I agree