French Concepts Explained /

The past tense with être

Recently, I told you about the past tense in French, so let's do a little refresher quiz before moving on.
Try to fill in the blanks.
1. We use le passé composé to refer to events in the _____. 2. Le passé composé is formed by the auxiliaries _____ or être + the past participle of the verb.
(Solutions at the bottom)
I also told you that nearly all verbs need avoir and very few form their passé composé with être. It's more about memorization than anything else. Since I know that memorization isn't your favorite, I would like to give you a hint that may help you.
Amadou est en 1975 dans une petite ville en Algérie. À l'âge de 3 ans il est monté dans le bus pour aller à la maison de sa grand-mère Laurine. Elle était très heureuse et Amadou est resté dans sa maison pendant un an. Mais un jour Laurine...
But, please! Finish the story...
I'll give you a list of verbs that you can use to finish the story. The special thing about these verbs is, you guessed it, that they all need the auxiliary verb être for the past tense.
naître (to be born)
mourir (to die)
monter (to go up/climb)
descendre (to go down/get off)
venir (to come)
aller (to go)
arriver (to arrive)
partir (to leave)
rentrer (to return, go home)
retourner (to return, send back)
rester (to stay)
tomber (to fall down)
passer (to pass)
Note! These verbs involve: - a change of state (naître, mourir)
- a change of location (except for rester)
What about the little -e in brackets?
Counter-question: Do you remember how to use the words préféré and préférée?
Yes, I remember. Let me show you a table I made:
masculine singular
feminine singular
masculine plural
feminine plural
Bravo! And the same goes for the verbs that use être. Let's go back to our grand-mother Laurine. Let's imagine that She fell down the stairs, you would say...
Elle est tombée dans l'escalier.
One last thing: the verbs of daily activities (reflexive verbs) → se + infinitive take the verb être as well.
Il s'est douché à 7 heures du matin.
Dimanche, elle s'est réveillée à 10 heures.
That's seems like a lot to memorize! :(
Don't worry! We've got plenty of exercises and a video for you!
Quiz answers: past, avoir