6.2 Passé composé

We have already mentioned the passé composé several times. The use of it is not too different from the English present perfect. However, the formation of it is a bit tricky.

We have said so far that the passé composé is formed with the auxiliary verb avoir (to have) and ther perfect particple.

Formation of the passé composé
Subject conjugated form of avoir perfect participle
J' ai mangé
Tu as
Il / Elle a
Nous avons
Vous avez
Ils / Elles ont

If we have a more detailed look at the formation of the passé composé, we have to acknoledge that there is a difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. Intransitive verbs are verbs that do not need necessarily an object.

Intransitive English verbs
I swim.
I go.
I dive.

Just try for a minute to find an object (direct or indirect) that would work with these verbs:
I swim him. or I go her. or I dive my car. It does not really make sense.

Intransitive verbs do not form the passé composé avoir (to have), but with être (to be). However, this is not the only difficulty. Now, the perfect participle after the conjugated form of être behaves like a predicative adjective. This again means that it has to conform in gender and number with the subject of the clause.

Intransitive French verbs
sortir = to go out
partir = to leave
venir = to come
arriver = to arrive

Je suis
venu( e )( s )
arrivé( e )( s )
sorti( e ) ( s )
parti( e ) ( s )

Tu es
Il / Elle est
Nous sommes
Vous êtes
Ils / Elles sont

e: If the subject is female, an e is added.
s: If the subject is male and in plural a single s is added.
es: If the subject is female and in plural esis added

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