French/Grammar/Tenses/Composed

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  • The perfect tenses are also called the compound or composed tenses.
  • The perfect tenses are all composed of a conjugated auxiliary verb and a fixed past participle.

Auxillary Verb Formation[edit]

  • The auxiliary verb is always either avoir or être.
  • The tense of the verb depends upon the tense that avoir or être is conjugated in.
    • When the auxiliary verb is conjugated in the passé composé, for example, the auxiliary verb is conjugated in the present indicative.
      • J'ai fini. - I have finished.

Past Participle Formation[edit]

  • -er verbs - replace -er with é
  • -ir verbs - replace -ir with i
  • -re verbs - replace -re with u
  • irregular verbs - must be memorized

Past Participle Agreement[edit]

Audio: French native speaker

  • The past pasticiple must agree with the direct object of a clause in gender and plurality if the direct object goes before the verb.
    • the direct object is masculine singular - no change
      • J'ai fini le jeu. - I have finished the game.
      • Je l'ai fini. - I have finished it.
    • the direct object is feminine singular - add an e to the past participle
      • J'ai fini la tâche. - I have finished the task.
      • Je l'ai finie. - I have finished it.
    • the direct object is masculine plural - add an s to the past participle.
      • J'ai fini les jeux. - I have finished the games.
      • Je les ai finis. - I have finished them.
    • the direct object is feminine plural - add an es to the past participle.
      • J'ai fini les tâches. - I have finished the tasks.
      • Je les ai finies. - I have finished them.

Avoir ou Être?[edit]

  • In most circumstances, the auxiliary verb is avoir.
  • However, under certain situations, the auxiliary verb is être.
  • This occurs when:
    • The verb is one of 16 special verbs that take être.
      • Arrivé, Allé, Venu, Devenu, Revenu, Entré, Rentré, Descendu, Retourné, Resté, Monté, Parti, Sorti, Tombé, Né, Mort.
      • Note that when a direct object is used with these verbs, the auxiliary verb becomes avoir.
    • The verb is reflexive.
      • That is, the subject of the verb is also its object.

List of Tenses[edit]

There are seven perfect tenses in French. These are:

  1. Le passé composé (The Present Perfect)
  2. Le plus-que-parfait de l'indicatif (The Pluperfect of the Indicative)
  3. Le plus-que-parfait du subjonctif (The Pluperfect Subjunctive)
  4. Le passé antérieur (The Past Anterior)
  5. Le futur antérieur (The Future Anterior)
  6. Le conditionnel passé (The Past Conditional)
  7. Le passé du subjonctif (The Past Subjunctive)