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

 

You may be interested in my learning pack “Passé composé and Imparfait” with a 45 min video explaining how to use these 2 past tenses:

PASSÉ COMPOSÉ & IMPARFAIT

 

How to form the French passé composé

24 Comments

  1. 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.
    Thanks!

    1. 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 😉

    1. Merci beaucoup ! Ce genre de commentaires me motivent énormément et me montrent que je suis sur la bonne voie 🙂
      Bonne journée à vous !

  2. This is a very useful article and i love you. If you are single person (not a company) then do not give up! I love all your articles and photos. I love you!!!❤❤❤❤

    1. Merci beaucoup Ahmed !
      Yes, I don’t have a team and I create all the content you see on my site by my own.
      Merci pour vos encouragements, ils me font chaud au cœur 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this visual. I use it with the students I tutor and it is SO helpful. It really breaks it down and guides them through the process of forming a sentence in the passé composé.

  4. I found this inspiring today while I was brushing up on my forgotten French language skills.
    I am using this quarantine time to fall in love again with this beautiful language.

    Thank you and stay safe! 🙂

    Yasminhussain.ca

    1. Thank you for your nice words 🙂 Glad that my site can help you brushing up your French !
      Stay safe too !

  5. Thank you for your lovely and helpful blog.
    I have a question about using v. Avoir and v. Être.
    How do you you know when to use v. Avoir or v. Être when you conjugate in passe composé?

    1. You’re welcome 🙂
      You can have a look at my infographic called “la maison d’être” that you can find by using the search bar.
      If you want to know everything you need to know about the passé composé and imparfait you can have a look at my learning pack here. 😉

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