Passé Composé and the Verbs That Switch between Etre and Avoir

May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

The one thing about vandertramp verbs is that one does them with one’s entire body.  One arrives, one leaves, one passes, one is born, one dies, one falls, one goes, one enters, etc.  with one’s entire body.  That’s the beauty of the vandertramp verbs – there’s a sense of logic to them.

BUT … what happens to the verbs that mean two things? 

Sortir means to go out AND to get something out

Rentrer means to go in, to return home AND to put in or to get in

Descendre means to go down, to descend AND to get something down

Passer means to pass by something AND to pass something

Monter means to go up, to climb AND to put something up

When one is doing the first meaning of the verb (the whole body meaning), one uses the être construction in the passé composé.  When one is doing the second meaning of the verb (where you’re doing the action to something else), one uses the avoir construction in  the passé composé.


     Elle est montée dans l’ascenseur – She went up in the elevator

     Elle a monté ses bagages – She picked up, put up her bags

     Elle est sortie de l’hôtel – She left from the hotel

     Elle a sorti sa valise du compartiment – She took out her suitcase from the compartment

      Elle est descendue du train  – She got down, she descended from the train

     Elle a descendu son sac à dos – She got down her backpack

     Nous sommes rentrés à la maison – We came back home

     Nous avons rentré la voiture au garage – We put the car in the garage


Passé Composé (Part 2)

May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

okey dokey – part 2. Passé composé with être. This is done like the passé composé with avoir, except for an extra step at the end.

1. Conjugate être to match the subject

2. Plug in the past participle

3. Add an ‘e’ or an ‘s’ to the past participle to make it match the gender and # of the subject

The verbs

verb past participle
monter monté
retourner retourné
sortir sorti
revenir revenu
devenir devenu
venir venu
aller allé
descendre descendu
entrer entré
rentrer rentré
tomber tombé
rester resté
arriver arrivé
mourir mort
passer passé
partir parti

Okay – now to practice. Let’s go with ‘aller’ in past tense for example #1

je suis allé (m),  je suis allée (fem) I went, I did go, I have gone
tu es allé (m), tu es allée (fem) you went, you did go, you have gone
il est allé he went, he did go, he has gone
elle est allée she went, she did go, she has gone
nous sommes allés (m), nous sommes allées (fem) we went, we did go, we have gone
vous êtes allé (masc sing), vous êtes allée (fem, sing),  vous êtes allés (masc pl),   vous êtes allées (fem pl) you went, you did go, you have gone
ils sont allés they went, they did go, they have gone
elles sont allées they went, they did go, they have gone


Now for example #2,  “mourir” in past tense

je suis mort (m),  je suis morte (fem) I died, I have died, I did die
tu es mort (m), tu es morte (fem) you died, you have died, you did die
il est mort he died, he has died, he did die
elle est morte she died, she has died, she did die
nous sommes morts (m), nous sommes mortes (fem) we died, we have died, we did die
vous êtes mort (masc sing), vous êtes morte (fem sing), vous êtes morts (masc plural), vous êtes mortes (fem plural) you died, you have died,  you did die
ils sont morts they died, they have died, they did die
ells sont mortes they died, they have died, they did die


Passé Composé

May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Okey dokey – here we are in one big old swoop. All of the passé composé. The passé composé is used to refer to something that happened in the past. It did happen, it happened, or it has happened. Anything else and it’s a different tense.

The passé composé has two parts – an auxiliary verb and the past participle. To make this happen, you need to

1. conjugate the auxiliary verb (avoir or être)

2. plug in the past participle

a. for regular ER verbs – drop the ‘er’, add ‘é’ – parler becomes parlé

b. for regular IR verbs – drop the ‘r’ – finir becomes fini

c. for regular RE verbs – drop the ‘re’, add ‘u’ – vendre becomes vendu

d. irregular verbs – memorize them!!!

passé composé with avoir

ER –

j’ai dansé – I danced, I have danced, I did dance

tu as dansé – you danced, you have danced, you did dance

il a dansé – he danced, he has danced, he did dance

nous avons dansé – we danced, we have danced, we did dance

vous avez dansé – you danced, you have danced, you did dance

ils ont dansé – they danced, they have danced, they did dance

IR –

j’ai fini – I have finished, I did finish, I finished

tu as fini – you have finished, you did finish, you finished

il a fini – he has finished, he did finish, he finished

nous avons fini – we have finished, we did finish, we finished

vous avez fini – you have finished, you did finish, you finished

ils ont fini – they have finished, they did finish, they finished

RE –

j’ai vendu – I sold, I did sell, I have sold

tu as vendu – you sold, you did sell, you have sold

il a vendu – he sold, he did sell, he has sold

nous avons vendu – we sold, we did sell, we have sold

vous avez vendu – you sold, you did sell, you have sold

ils ont vendu – they sold, they did sell, they have sold

IRREG – (just an example, I’ll give you the list of irregular past participles separately)

example for mettre – past participle is ‘mis’

j’ai mis – I put, I did put, I have put

tu as mis – you put, you did put, you have put

il a mis – he put, he did put, he has put

nous avons mis – we put, we did put, we have put

vous avez mis – you put, you did put, you have put

ils ont mis – they put, they did put, they have put

*the passé composé with être will be in next posting*

Stress Pronouns

May 4, 2011 § 5 Comments

Stress pronouns are the last category of pronouns to cover. They are the personal pronouns used with prepositions (and the verb penser à).
DOP’s replace people and things when they are the direct object of a sentence.
IOP’s replace à people.
What does one use when one wants to say “with me”, ” for them”, or “next to her”? – all of the pronouns in these examples come after prepositions.

Stress Pronoun List

me – moi
you – toi
him – lui
her – elle
us – nous
you – vous
them (mixed or masc.) – eux
them (feminine) – elles

*For a list of common prepositions, see this link Prepositions Page

for me – pour moi
with them – avec eux
next to her – à côté d’elle
from you – de toi

* Stress pronouns are also used following “c’est”*
C’est lui qui corrige les autres. – He’s the one who corrects the others.

* Stress pronouns are also used when making comparisons.*
Tu cours plus vite que moi. – You run faster than I do.
Il parle plus couramment qu’eux. – He speaks more fluently than they do.
Vous dansez mieux que lui. – You dance better than he does.

* Used with aussi and non plus*
Moi aussi.
Moi non plus

*Stress pronouns can replace subject pronouns if there is more than one subject*
Charles et moi, nous sommes copains.
Eux et moi, nous sommes les seuls à comprendre.

*There are also some verbs that take stress pronouns when used with people.*
Penser à – to think about
Penser de – to think of (have an opinion)
Songer à – to think about, to dream about
Rêver à – to dream about
Courir à – to run to
Venir à – to come to
Aller à – to go to
Être à – to belong to (a person)
Être habitué á – to be used to
S’habituer á – to be used to
S’adresser á – to address oneself to
S’intéresser à – to be interested in
Faire attention à – to pay attention to
Tenir à – to value

Je pense à toi. I’m thinking of you.
Ce sac à dos est à lui – this backpack is his.
Nous faisons attention à elle. – we’re paying attention to her.
Viens à moi. Come to me.
Go to them. Vas à eux.
La fille s’habitue à nous. The girl is getting used to us.
Je veux aller avec eux, mais je n’irai pas sans toi.
Je sortirai après lui pour aller chez vous.
Je me fie à lui.
Il a couru à elle.
Chacun travaille pour soi.
On est toujours content de rentrer chez soi.
Fais attention à eux, ils ne t’aiment pas.
Je tiens à elle parce qu’elle m’est sympathique.

Here’s another site with a more comprehensive list of the verbs that take stress pronouns. I only listed the main ones on my page.

IOP and DOP verbs

May 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

This is the beginning of the list – still a work in progress.

Tricky DOP verbs
Regarder – to look AT, to watch
Écouter – to listen TO
Chercher – to look FOR
Attendre – to wait FOR
Appeler – to call
Aider – to help
Soigner – to take care OF
Entendre – to hear
Acheter – to buy
Payer – to pay for

Tricky IOP verbs
Répondre à – to answer
Rendre visite à – to visit a person
Téléphoner à – to telephone (someone or a place)
Acheter à – to buy FOR
Obéir à – to obey
ressembler à – resemble

Verbs that take both IOP and DOP
Apporter something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to bring
Demander something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to ask
Dire something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to tell
Donner something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to give
Emprunter something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to borrow from, but here you use à instead of de
Expliquer something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to explain
Montrer something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to show
Offrir something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to offer
Poser something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to ask
Prêter something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to lend
Promettre something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to promise
Rendre something (DOP) à someone (IOP) – to give back

Vocabulaire, Chapitre 4

May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

the bedroom – la chambre (à coucher)
the chimney – la chéminée
the kitchen – la cuisine
the stairs – l'éscalier
the yard – le jardin
the garden – le potager
the dining room – la salle à manger
the bathroom – la salle de bains
the living room – la salle de séjour
the basement – le sous-sol
the roof – le toit
a shutter – un volet

an appliance – un appareil
a bathtub – une baignoire
a broom – un balai
a teapot – une bouilloire
a coffee pot – une cafetière
a couch – un canapé
a dresser – une commode
a cushion – un coussin
a stove – une cuisinière
an oven – un four
a shower – une douche
a bookcase – une étagère
a kitchen sink – un évier
an armchair – un fauteuil
an iron – un fer à repasser
a microwave – un four à micro-ondes
a fridge – un frigo
a toaster – un grille-pain
a bathroom sink – un lavabo
a bed – un lit
a washing machine – une machine à laver
a closet or cupboard – un placard
curtains – les rideaux (m)
a painting or a picture – un tableau
a coffee table – une table basse
a nightstand – une table de nuit
a rug – un tapis
the toilet – les toilettes or les W.C.

a real estate agent – un agent immobilier
an elevator – un ascenseur
an advantage – un avantage
a disadvantage – un inconvénient
a key – une clé
a furnished one bedroom apartment – une deux-pièces meublé
an apartment building – un immeuble
a tenant – un locataire
a floor – une étage
the ground floor – le rez-de-chaussée
an apartment – un appartement
the rent – le loyer
to rent – louer
partager – to rent
to make a decision – prendre une décision
to make an appointment – prendre un rendez-vous

a police officer – un agent de police
a jewelry store – une bijouterie
a tavern, pub – une brasserie
a shopkeeper – un commerçant
a hairdresser – un coiffeur, coiffeuse
a shoe repair person – un cordonnier, une cordonnière
a place – un endroit
a mailman – un facteur, une factrice
a supermarket – un supermarché
a laundromat – un lavomatic
a wine seller – un marchand de vins
a dry cleaners – un pressing
a neighbor – un voisin
to have a drink – prendre un pot
to greet – saluer

to water (plants) – arroser
to boil – bouillir
to putter, tinker – bricoler
to dry the dishes – essuyer les assiettes
to go shopping – faire les achats
to do the dishes – faire la vaisselle
to do housework – faire le ménage
to garden – jardiner
to clean – nettoyer
to take care of – s’occuper de
to vacuum – passer l’aspirateur
to clean up a room, put it in order – ranger (une chambre, une salle)
to iron – repasser
to take out the garbage – sortir les ordures
to mow the lawn – tondre le gazon

avoir idioms – for the list of avoir idioms, see this link

broken – cassé
each – chaque
hard – dur
hurried – pressé
near – proche
own or clean – propre (propre before the noun means own, after the noun means clean)
dirty – sale

close by – à proximité
no clue – aucune idée
that’s disgusting – c’est dégoutant
also, furthermore – en plus
not at all – pas du tout
no kidding – sans blague
every week – toutes les semaines
you’re lucky – tu AS de la chance

IOP DOP Y En Word Order for One Verb, Two Verb, and Composed Tenses

May 1, 2011 § 7 Comments

Not all sentences have every pronoun  listed.  But the idea is to know which go in which order in case you have more than one pronoun.  A helpful thing would be to memorize two or three phrases that have more than one pronoun in them so that you will always remember which go in which order.  For those of you in my class, you have your “cheat sheet” notecards.  Use them!!

Je te les envoie – I’m sending them to you.
Je les lui donne.  –  I’m giving them to him
Il n’y en a plus – There isn’t any more of it/them
Je vais y aller – I’m going there.
J’y suis allé – I went there.

1.  For one verb tenses, this is the order of the pronouns between the subject and the verb.

subject ne reflexive pronoun indirect object pronoun direct object pronoun indirect object pronoun y en verb pas
    me me me lui       (and other
    te te te leur       negation
    se nous le / la         terms)
    nous vous nous          
    vous   vous          
    se   les          

Nous leur racontons l’histoire.  We’re telling the story to them.
Nous la racontons aux enfants. We’re telling it to the children.
Tu m’aides. You are helping me.
Ils vous offrent les fleurs . They are offering the flowers to you.
Ils vous les offrent. They are offering them to you.


2.  For 2 verb sentences, you place the pronoun in front of the verb that affects it, which ends up being the 2nd verb / infinitive.

subject ne verb pas reflexive IOP DOP IOP y en infinitive rest of sentence
        me me  me  lui        
        te te  te  leur        
        se  nous  le/la          
        nous  vous  nous          
        vous    vous          
         se    les          

Je veux y aller.
Tu dois le faire.
Il va en acheter.

For the composed tenses (with an auxiliary verb and a past participle – passé composé, plus que parfait, etc.)

subject ne reflexive pronoun IOP DOP IOP y en auxiliary verb pas past participle rest of sentence
    me me me lui     être      
    te te te leur     avoir      
    se nous le/la              
    nous vous nous              
    vous   les              

*In these tenses there are a few minor details that I haven’t included here, but this is the word order.
Je l’ai acheté – I bought it
Je te les ai données – I gave them to you
Ils les y ont vendus – They sold them there

** NOTE – for negative sentences in passé composé, make sure to double check the placement of the pas / negative words (plus, jamais, pas encore, personne, que, etc.)

Reflexive, DOP and IOP Charts

April 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Reflexive Pronouns

me myself
te yourself
se himself
se herself
nous ourselves
vous yourselves
se themselves


Direct Object Pronouns

Replace people or objects

me me
te you
le him or it
la her or it
nous us
vous you
les them


Indirect Object Pronouns

replace à people

me à me
te à you
lui à him
lui à her
nous à us
vous à you
leur à them

Comparative and Superlative

April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

When making comparisons, one is saying that something or someone is more, less, or as (an adjective) as another, or compares how someone does an action, using an adverb.  We use the same construction in French.
The construction is

more adjective or adverb than plus adjective / adverb que
as adjective or adverb as aussi adjective / adverb que
less adjective or adverb than moins adjective / adverb que

 She runs faster (more fast) than Fred.  Elle court plus rapidement que Fred.
You are working as hard as Fred. Tu travailles aussi dur que Fred.
This saleslady is nicer than the other saleslady. Cette vendeuse est plus sympathique que l’autre vendeuse.
Une Volkswagen est moins chère qu’une Porsche.  A VW is less expensive than a Porsche

*good and bad change forms in French like they do in English.

good – bon well – bien
better – meilleur better – mieux
best – le/la meilleur best – le / la mieux
bad – mauvais badly – mal
worse – plus mauvais (pire) worse – plus mal (pire)
worst – le / la plus mauvais (pis) worst – le /la plus mal (pis)

Ils trouvent que le pain français est meilleur que le pain amèricain.
Les fruits et les légumes sont meilleurs pour la santé que les pâtisseries?

One uses the superlative to single out one item from the group and compare it to all the others. One forms the superlative in French by using le, la, or les and plus or moins with the adjective.
Cette robe est la plus jolie de la boutique. This dress is the prettiest of the store.
Robert est le plus intelligent de la classe. Robert is the smartest in the class.
Fred et Oscar sont les plus amusants de tous les élèves. Fred and Oscar are the funniest of all the students.

All Adjective Endings and Changes

April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Okey dokey, here is the more than thorough section on adjective placement and agreement. Adjectives must match the noun that they describe in both number and gender.

1. For regular adjectives, add an e to the adjective if the noun is feminine. If the noun is plural, add an s. If the noun is plural and feminine, add an es.

masculine singular masculine plural feminine singular feminine plural
grand grands grande grandes

2. Certain adjectives change their spelling in the feminine

a. er becomes ère
dernier – dernière
cher – chère
fier – fière

b. eur or eux becomes euse
trompeur – trompeuse
heureux – heureuse
travailleur – travailleuse
menteur – menteuse
joyeux – joyeuse

c. teur becomes trice
protecteur – protectrice
consolateur – consolatrice
créateur – créatrice

*certain adjectives from Latin origin that end in teur (antérieur, postérieur, supérieur, inférieur, intérieur, extérieur, majeur, mineur, et meilleur) only end an e in feminine.

c. f becomes ve
vif – vive
destructif – destructive
neuf – neuve

d. el, il, en, et, on , as, os, sot generally double the consonant and add an e
cruel – cruelle
gentil – gentille
ancien – ancienne
muet – muette
bon – bonne
bas – basse
gros – grosse
sot – sotte
nul – nulle

*certain adjectives that end in et end in ète in feminine
complet – complète
discret – discrète
*the final consonant doesn’t always double (joys of every rule having an exception)
petit – petite
gris – grise

e. g becomes gue in feminine (to protect the hard g sound in the feminine form – if one just adds an e, then the hard g sound becomes the soft ‘je’ sound)
long – longue
oblong – oblongue

f. certain adjectives don’t follow any rule
blanc – blanche
sec – sèche
frais – fraîche
franc – franche
faux – fausse
roux – rousse
fou – folle
beau, bel – belle
nouveau, nouvel – nouvelle
vieux, vieil – vieille
grec – grecque
public – publique
bénin – bénigne
malin – maligne

3. To make an adjective agree with a plural noun

a. normally one adds an s to the adjective

b. if the adjective ends in an s or an x one doesn’t add anything to make it (masculine) plural, for (feminine plural, change to the feminine form and add an s)

c. adjectives that end in au or al change to aux ending (in their masculine forms, again for the feminine forms, change it to feminine and add an s)
nouveau – nouveaux
beau – beaux
municipal – municipaux
tropical – tropicaux
*these 3 adjectives don’t follow that rule
fatal – fatals
final – finals
naval – navals

for other info see these three links

*much of my organization for this post came from Une Fois Pour Toutes, my favorite French grammar resource.

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