MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

712 views

How do you construct the past tense in French?

Unlike in the English past tense, the French have two auxiliary 'helping' verbs - avoir and être, these become before the past participle, e.g. descendu. For example, j'ai mangé, and je suis allé.

So as you can see here, the structure is 'who has done it (subject) + helping verb (auxiliary) + second verb (past participle)'

These auxiliaries are formed as follows

subject      avoir       être      

je              ai            suis

tu              as           es

il/elle/on     a            est

nous          avons      sommes

vous          avez        êtes

ils/elles      ont           sont

Which one of these you use depends on the verb that follows/the past participle, for example a minority of 'moving' verbs mean that you must use être, e.g. je suis... These can be remembered using the anacronym DR & MRS VANDERTRAMP, they are:

Devenir - to become

Revenir - to come back

&

Monter - to climb

Rester - to stay

Sortir - to go out

Venir - to come

Aller - to go

Naître - to be born

Descendre - to descend

Entrer - to enter

Rentrer - to return

Tomber - to fall

Retourner - to return

Arriver - to arrive

Mourir - to die

Partir - to leave

All other verbs require the use of avoir as the helping verb/auxiliary.

The second verb/past participle, e.g. venir, manger, etc, are formed from the infinitive (as you find them in the dictionary) as follows:

Verbs ending in -er (e.g. manger) lose the -er and add an -é; e.g. mangé

Verbs ending in -ir (e.g. partir) lose the -ir and add an -i; e.g. parti

Verbs ending in -re (e.g. rendre) lose the -re and add an -u; e.g. rendu

verbs ending in -oir (e.g. voir) lose the -oir and add an -u; e.g. vu

The final step to forming the past is that only DR & MRS VANDERTRAMP verbs must take an agreement - additional letter(s) - of gender and quantity depending on who has done the verb. For example

gender          singular           plural

masculine     - (no addition)   - s

feminine       - e                   - es

e.g. elle est allée (added e because subject is feminine); Marie et Claire sont descendues (added es because subjects are both feminine; Marc et Tom ont devenus (just the addition of an s because whilst there are two subjects, neither are feminine)

Joseph D. GCSE French tutor, GCSE German tutor, A Level French tutor,...

2 years ago

Answered by Joseph, a GCSE French tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

181 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£24 /hr

Dorothea C.

Degree: Psychology (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:French, Psychology+ 1 more

French
Psychology
German

“My name is Dorothea and I am a Psychology student at Exeter University. My aim is to help pupils understand topics in a way that suits their learning style”

£22 /hr

Beth C.

Degree: Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Arabic and Spanish) (Bachelors) - Cambridge University

Subjects offered:French, Spanish+ 6 more

French
Spanish
History
English Literature
Arabic
-Personal Statements-
-Oxbridge Preparation-

“A kind and patient tutor studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge”

£30 /hr

Georgia P.

Degree: Modern Languages - Spanish American Literature (Masters) - Oxford, Somerville College University

Subjects offered:French, Spanish+ 6 more

French
Spanish
English and World Literature
English Literature
Drama
-Personal Statements-
-Oxbridge Preparation-

“Hello, Hola, Salut! I am a language tutor from Oxford. Contact me for a free meeting to have a chat and see if I can help you with your studies!”

About the author

Joseph D.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: Modern languages with European Studies (French and German) (Bachelors) - Bath University

Subjects offered:French, German

French
German

“About Me: I study French and German with European Studies at the University of Bath. I have always been hugelypassionate about the technicality and grace of languages , and I’d love to help you feel the same way. I am incredibly p...”

You may also like...

Posts by Joseph

Are there any tricks that can help me learn the gender of nouns in German?

How do you construct the past tense in French?

What is the difference between pro-natalist policies and anti-natalist policies?

What is the Pacific Ring of Fire?

Other GCSE French questions

How do I put a verb into the future tense?

How do I know if a French verb belongs to the 1st, 2nd of 3rd conjugation group?

How can I improve my written style to sound more sophisticated/to a higher level?

How do you form the future (near future) tense?

View GCSE French tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok