French Grammar: Passé Composé with AVOIR – Irregular Verbs

FRNGrammarPasseComposeAvoirIrregular

French Grammar: Passé Composé with AVOIR – Irregular Verbs
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French Grammar: Passé Composé with AVOIR – Irregular Verbs
la grammaire française: le passé compose avec AVOIR –- les verbes irréguliers

When speaking about the past in English, you choose which past tense to use depending on the context and the meaning you wish to convey. In French sentences, you choose which past tense you use depending only on the meaning you wish to convey.

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When speaking about the past in English, you choose which past tense to use depending on the context and the meaning you wish to convey. In French sentences, you choose which past tense you use depending only on the meaning you wish to convey.

The Passé Composé (Past Tense) is the most common past tense in French.  It is used to express an action or event (or a series of actions or events) completed in the past.  The Passé Composé (Past Tense) is used in the following instances:

1. With completed actions in the past:

J’ai étudié la leçon déjà.
I studied the lesson already.

2. With a series of events or actions completed in the past:

La semaine passée, je suis allé en Floride, j’ai nagé dans l’océan et j’ai beaucoup dormi.
Last week I went to Florida, I swam in the ocean, and I slept a lot.

3. With key words associated with past time (hier, avant-hier, hier soir, une fois, tout à coup…)

Hier soir j’ai dansé avec mon mari.
Last night, I danced with my husband.

The literal translation of “Passé Composé is “compound past”, and it is called this because the verb form is composed of two parts: (1) the present tense of the auxiliary (or “helper”) verb, and (2) the past participle of the main verb (i.e., the verb that conveys the true meaning).

For the majority of French verbs, the Passé Composé is formed with the auxiliary (“helper”) verb AVOIR.  (See the lessons on Passé Composé with ÊTRE to learn more about French verbs that form the Passé Composé with the auxiliary (“helper”) verb être.)

The past participle is the form of the verb that is usually equivalent to  -ed  in English.  (For example: played, finished, waited).  However, just as there are irregular past participles in English (brought, sang, chose, etc.), there are also irregular past participles in French.

The Passé Composé has three possible English translations. For example, j’ai joué can mean:

I played (simple past)
I have played (present perfect)
I did play (past emphatic)

All irregular verbs conjugated with AVOIR in the Passé Composé follow the same rules as regular verbs conjugated with AVOIR in the Passé Composé.  (See the LEAF French Grammar lesson Passé Composé with AVOIR — Regular -ER/-IR/-RE Verbs for more information about regular verbs.)

As with regular verbs, the Passé Composé (Past Tense) of irregular verbs consists of three parts:

SUBJECT + PRESENT TENSE OF AUXILIARY VERB “AVOIR” + PAST PARTICIPLE OF MAIN VERB

Many common French verbs have an irregular past participle.  It is to be noted that French verbs with irregular past participles also tend to be irregular in the present tense.  It is also to be noted that many French verbs with irregular past participles correspond to an equivalent irregular past participle in English.

French verbs with irregular past participles can be grouped according to the way their past participle ends, as follows:

PAST PARTICIPLES ENDING IN –ERT :

couvrir (to cover) -> couvert (covered) 

découvrir (to discover) -> découvert (discovered) 

ouvrir (to open) -> ouvert (opened) 

souffrire (to suffer) -> souffert (suffered) 

PAST PARTICIPLES ENDING IN –I :

dormir (to sleep) -> dormi (slept)

rire (to laugh) -> ri (laughed)

sourire (to smile) -> souri (smiled)

suivre (to follow) -> suivi (followed)

PAST PARTICIPLES ENDING IN –IS :

apprendre (to learn) -> appris (learned)

comprendre (to understand) -> compris (understood)

mettre (to put / to put on) -> mis (put / put on)

permettre (to permit / to allow) -> permis (permitted / allowed)

promettre (to promise) -> promis (promised)

remettre (to put back) -> remis (put back)

prendre (to take) -> pris (took)

PAST PARTICIPLES ENDING IN –IT :

conduire (to drive) -> conduit (drove)

construire (to construct) -> construit (constructed)

dire (to say / to tell) -> dit (said / told)

écrire (to write) -> écrit (wrote)

instruire (to instruct) -> instruit (instructed)

produire (to produce) -> produit (produced)

reproduire (to reproduce) -> reproduit (reproduced)

PAST PARTICIPLES ENDING IN –NT :

atteindre (to attain) -> atteint (attained)

craindre (to fear) -> craint (feared)

joindre (to join) -> joint (joined)

peindre (to paint) -> peint (painted)

PAST PARTICIPLES ENDING IN –U :

boire (to drink) -> bu (drank)

connaître (to know – a person, place, or body of work) -> connu (knew – a person, place, or body of work)

courir (to run) -> couru (ran)

croire (to believe) -> cru (believed)

devoir (to have to / to owe) -> dû (had to / owed)

falloir (to be necessary) -> fallu (was necessary)

lire (to read) -> lu (read)

paraître (to appear / to seem) -> paru (appeared / seemed)

plaire (to please) -> plu (pleased) *

pleuvoir (to rain) -> plu (rained) *

pouvoir (to be able to / can) -> pu (was able to / could)

recevoir (to receive) -> reçu (received)

savoir (to know – facts or information) -> su (knew – facts or information)

tenir (to hold) -> tenu (held)

valoir (to be worth) -> valu (was worth)

vivre (to live) -> vécu (lived)

voir (to see) -> vu (saw)

vouloir (to want) -> voulu (wanted)

*Plu (rained) is only used with the masculine singular form : Il a plu (It rained / It has rained / It did rain).  Context is needed to distinguish between plu (pleased) and plu (rained).  Compare:

Il a plu à sa mère.
He pleased his mother.
He has pleased his mother.
He did please his mother.

Il a plu toute la nuit.
It rained all night.
It has rained all night.
It did rain all night.

TOTALLY IRREGULAR PAST PARTICIPLES! :

avoir (to have) -> eu (had)

être (to be) -> été (was)

faire (to do / to make) -> fait (did / made)

– ERT GROUP
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai – ert
tu as – ert
il/elle/on
a – ert
nous avons – ert
vous avez – ert
ils/elles ont – ert

– I GROUP
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai – i
tu as – i
il/elle/on
a – i
nous avons – i
vous avez – i
ils/elles ont – i

– IS GROUP
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai – is
tu as – is
il/elle/on
a – is
nous avons – is
vous avez – is
ils/elles ont – is

– IT GROUP
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai – it
tu as – it
il/elle/on
a – it
nous avons – it
vous avez – it
ils/elles ont – it

– NT GROUP
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai – nt
tu as – nt
il/elle/on
a – nt
nous avons – nt
vous avez – nt
ils/elles ont – nt

– U GROUP
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai – u
tu as – u
il/elle/on
a – u
nous avons – u
vous avez – u
ils/elles ont – u

The Verb AVOIR
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai eu
tu as eu
il/elle/on
a eu
nous avons eu
vous avez eu
ils/elles ont eu

The Verb ÊTRE
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai été
tu as été
il/elle/on
a été
nous avons été
vous avez été
ils/elles ont été

The Verb FAIRE
SUBJECT Auxiliary VERB “AVOIR” PAST PARTICIPLE
j’ ai fait
tu as fait
il/elle/on
a fait
nous avons fait
vous avez fait
ils/elles ont fait

Adapt:

Tu as compris la leçon?
Did you (familiar) understand the lesson?

Oui, j’ai compris la leçon.
Yes, I understood the lesson.

Qui a peint La Joconde?
Who painted the Mona Lisa?

Léonard de Vinci a peint La Joconde.
Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.

Vous avez lu le journal ce matin?
Did you (plural) read the newspaper this morning?

Oui, nous avons lu le journal ce matin.
Yes, we read the paper this morning.

Qu’est-ce qu’elle a dit?
What did she say?

Elle a dit << Bonjour >>.
She said “Hello”.

Qui a découvert le radium?
Who discovered radium?

Pierre et Marie Curie ont découvert le radium.
Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium.

Un de mes employés a été encore en retard hier.
One of my employees was late to work again yesterday.

Qu’est-ce que tu as fait?
What did you (familiar) do?

J’ai eu une petite discussion avec lui.
I had a little talk with him.   

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