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Degree: Modern Languages and Cultures (Bachelors) - Durham University
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When do I use the passé composé?
The passé composé is used to describe a completed past action. If you imagine that you were looking at your watch for the duration of the action, and could therefore give a precise time for the start and end of the event, the passé composé is the appropriate tense to use.
Some examples in English:
- He entered the office at 2pm.
- Yesterday, they went to the cinema together.
How to form the passé composé:
You will need to know...
1. The French Subject Pronouns: Je (I), Tu (you - singular), Il/Elle/On (he/she/one), Nous (we), Vous (you - plural/formal singular), Ils/Elles (they)
2. The auxiliary verbs avoir and être in the present tense: j'ai, tu as, il/elle/on a, nous avons, vous avez, ils/elles ont ; je suis, tu es, il/elle/on est, nous sommes, vous êtes, ils/elles sont.
3. How to form the past participle of the verb in question and which auxiliary it requires:
- Regular ER verbs: remove 'er' from the infinitive (this is the "to" form of the verb that is found in the dictionary) and add 'é'. For example, 'manger' (to eat) becomes 'mangé'.
- Regular IR verbs: remove 'ir' from the infinitive and add 'i'. For example, 'choisir' (to choose) becomes 'choisi'.
- Regular RE verbs: remove 're' from the infinitive and add 'u'. For example, 'vendre' (to sell) becomes 'vendu.'
- Unfortunately, there are many irregular verbs that need to be learned. You can find lists of the most common irregulars online, for example here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/french/grammar/verbsf/perftenseavoirrev2.shtml
4. The fact that verbs taking être can be remembered using the acrostic 'DR MRS VAN DER TRAMP.'
Devenir - Devenu - became
Revenir - Revenu - came back
Monter - Monté - went up
Rester - Resté - stayed
Sortir - Sorti - went out
Venir - Venu - came
Aller - Allé - went
Naitre - Né - was born
Descendre - Descendu - went down
Entrer - Entré - entered
Rentrer - Rentré - went back in
Tomber - Tombé - fell
Retourner - Retourné - returned
Arriver - Arrivé - arrived
Mourir - Mort - died
Partir - Parti - left
5. The fact that verbs taking être must agree in quantity and gender with the subject.
- add 'e' to the past participle for feminine singular.
- add 's' to the past participle for masculine plural.
- add 'es' to the past participle for feminine plural.
Examples of the passé composé:
- Ils sont allés au cinéma ensemble.
- Elle est née hier.
Ultimately, you must not forget that the signification of all literary devices is dependent on their context. There is no standard connotation of any device. 1. The declarative sentence mood: This mood occurs when a speaker makes a declaration or claim. It can be as simple as 'I will win the competition.' The declarative mood is often linked to the creation of an assertive tone, which could demonstrate self-confidence, or even a self-centered nature. 2. The interrogative sentence mood: Questions are always examples of the interrogative sentence mood and vice versa. For example: 'Who is he?' The interrogative sentence mood can create an atmosphere of uncertainty, demonstrating a lack of confidence from the speaker's perspective. Equally, the interrogative sentence mood can be viewed as a speaker's attempt to undermine their peers by challenging them or 'putting them on the spot.' Consequently, analysing the interplay between interrogative and declarative sentence moods is revealing of the power balance between speakers. 3. The imperative sentence mood: Expressing a desire or wish, demands and requests are examples of the imperative sentence mood. For example: 'Answer me now!' Depending on the context, imperatives can create an authoritarian tone or a frantic atmosphere, particularly if imperatives are in abundance or not followed by a response. Imperatives can be linked to hierarchy: a powerful character will use imperatives, a subordinate character will listen to imperatives. 4. The exclamatory sentence mood: Just like an exclamation mark, the exclamatory sentence mood describes a strong emotion.see more
Subject: French/A Level
Q: How do I form the pluperfect and when do I use it?
In French, the pluperfect tense is used to describe a completed event that has taken place before another event in the past. This is equivalent to the English 'had', for example:
Before he came to my house, he had already eaten.
You can remember the function of the pluperfect tense by thinking of its French title, plus-que-parfait, which literally translates as 'more than perfect.' Therefore, the title refers to the fact that this tense describes events that are 'more completed' as they occur before the perfect tense.
In order to form the pluperfect tense, you will need to know:
1. The French Subject Pronouns: Je, Tu, Il/Elle/On, Nous, Vous, Ils/Elles
2. The auxiliary verbs avoir and être in the imperfect tense:
Avoir: j'avais, tu avais, il/elle/on avait, nous avions, vous aviez, ils/elles avaient
Être: j'étais, tu étais, il/elle/on était, nous étions, vous étiez, ils/elles étaient
3. The past participle of the verb in question (e.g. manger becomes mangé) and which auxiliary (avoir or être) it requires.
4. The fact that verbs taking être and preceeding direct objects must agree with the subject in gender and quantity. For example: Elle était sortie avant qu'il n'est arrivé and Les maisons que j'avais achetées
Therefore, the formation of the pluperfect is very similar to that of the perfect. To decide which auxiliary a verb requires, you will need to distinguish between the verbs that take être, which can be remembered by the DR MRS VANDERTRAMP acrostic, and all other verbs which take aller.
Devenir - Devenu
Revenir - Revenu
Monter - Monté
Rester - Resté
Sortir - Sorti
Venir - Venu
Aller - Allé
Naitre - Né
Descendre - Descendu
Entrer - Entré
Rentrer - Rentré
Tomber - Tombé
Retourner - Retourné
Arriver - Arrivé
Mourir - Mort
Partir - Parti
Examples of the pluperfect:
J'étais née avant...
Nous avions quittés la maison avant...
Elles étaient montées...