How to form the perfect tense in French using 'avoir'.

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If we want to express a completed action which happened in the past in French, we use the perfect tense. In order to form it we use either avoir or etre and conjugate them in the present form and then add the past participle. Today we will focus on using avoir.

eg. 'I have eaten lunch already' -- J'ai déjà mangé le déjeuner 

eg. 'We walked to the supermarket' -- Nous avons marché au supermarché 

In the above examples the conjugated forms of avoir in the present are 'J'ai' / 'Nous avons' and the past participles are 'mangé' / 'marché'

AVOIR

The simpler, more commonly used auxiliary form is avoir. To form this we firstly take the present form:

J'ai     Tu as     Il/elle a     Nous avons     Vous avez     Ils/elles ont

I have / You have (singular) / He/she has / We have / You (plural) have / They have

We then add the past participles. These are formed by taking the -ER / -RE / -IR ending off the verb and adding the endings:

-ER     -RE     -IR

  é          u        i

eg. finir --- fini

eg. vendre --- vendu

eg. commencer --- commencé

These past participles remain the same regardless of the person.

Unfortunately there are some irregular past participles which do not follow this rule and we must learn these, for example:

avoir -- eu

comprendre -- compris

écrire -- écrit

lire -- lu

faire -- fait

etre -- été

I hope this has helped!

Hannah A. A Level French tutor

About the author

is an online GCSE French tutor with MyTutor studying at Bristol University

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