The past tense of most French verbs is formed using “avoir” (to have

The past tense of most French verbs is formed using “avoir” (to have) as the auxiliary verb :
j’ai téléphoné=I have telephoned or I telephoned;
tu as réussi=you have succeeded or you succeeded;
il/elle/on a entendu=he/she/one has heard or he/she/one heard;
nous avons parlé=we have spoken or we spoke;
vous avez fini=you have finished or you finished;
ils/elles ont répondu=they have answered or they answered.
BUT some verbs, often denoting motion, form their past with “être” such as the following (and their
derivatives, e.g.: “entrer”+”rentrer”, “venir”+”revenir”, “monter”+”remonter”, “partir”+”repartir”,
“naître”+”renaître”, etc.). The ten verbs in the first two lines can be remembered as pairs of opposites or in
the acronym : MRS. P. D. VAN DE TRAMP:
mourir=to die;
arriver=to arrive;
aller=to go;
monter=to go up to;
sortir=to go out;
naître=to be born;
partir=to leave;
venir=to come; descendre=to descend;
entrer=to enter;
décéder=to die;
rester=to remain;
tomber=to fall; retourner=to go back;
passer=to pass.
Examples :
je suis allé(e)-I went / I have gone
nous sommes venu(e)s-we came / we have come
tu es parti(e)-you left / you have left
vous êtes tombé(e)(s)-you fell / you have fallen
il est né-he was born
ils sont descendus-they descended / they have descended
elle est morte-she died/she has died
elles sont entrées-they entered / they have entered
NOTE : when “monter” and “descendre” mean, respectively, ‘to take up’ and ‘to bring down’ [transitive verbs
with direct object pronouns], they form the perfect tense with “avoir”.
The past participles (allé, parti, venu, né, mort, arrivé, sorti, entré, tombé, monté, descendu, resté, retourné,
décédé, passé) of these verbs agree in number and gender with the person carrying out the action (the
subject), just as if they were adjectives.
je suis allé
tu es parti
je suis venu
il est mort
je suis allée
tu es partie
je suis venue
elle est morte
nous sommes allés
vous êtes partis
nous sommes venus
ils sont morts
nous sommes allées
vous êtes parties
nous sommes venues
elles sont mortes
le bureau=the office
la réunion=the meeting
tout (masc.sing.)=all
l’étudiant(m.)=the student
l’infirmière(f.)=the nurse
toute (fem.sing.)=all
l’étudiante(f.)=the student
la journée=the day (daytime)
tous (masc.plural)=all
la maison=the house
toutes (fem. plural)=all
(A) Imagine for a moment the following: You are a doctor (male). You arrived at the hospital this morning at 7
o’clock. You went to a meeting at 10 o’clock. You left the hospital with two nurses.
Now complete these sentences:
1. Je suis (doctor). 2. Ce matin je (arriver) à l’hôpital à sept heures. 3. Je (aller) à une réunion à dix heures. 4.
Je (partir) avec deux infirmières.
(B) Imagine the following : You are a journalist (female). Yesterday you went to a press conference. At one
o’clock you went upstairs to the restaurant. You returned to the office very late. Now complete these
1. Je suis (journalist). 2. Hier je (aller) à une conférence de presse. 3. Je (monter) au restaurant à une heure.
4. Je (retourner) au bureau très tard.
(C) Consider the following: Nicole and Sophie are students. They went to the university this morning at 9
o’clock. They stayed the whole day in the library. They came back home at 5 o’clock. Now complete these
1. Nicole et Sophie sont (students). 2. Ce matin elles (aller) à l’université à 9 heures. 3. Elles (rester) toute la
journée à la bibliothèque. 4. Elles (revenir) à la maison à 5 heures.
l’ingénieur(m.)=the engineer
(D) Translate :
1. The engineers arrived yesterday. 2. The nurses (f.) have already left. 3. We (f.) came back early. 4. You
(familiar singular masculine) went downstairs. 5. Did the doctor stay all day? 6. Did you come back very late?
You will want to ask for things and to say what you would like to do. Use ‘je voudrais’ (I would like) – it’s more
polite (or endearing! and you’re more likely to get it!) than ‘je veux’ :
Je voudrais un café.=I’d like a coffee.
Je voudrais de la confiture.=I’d like some jam.
Je voudrais prendre le petit déjeuner dans ma chambre.=I would like to have/take breakfast in my room.
Je voudrais rester deux jours.=I would like to stay two days.
(1) If you ask for un café, you will receive black coffee; if you want white coffee, ask for un café crème or, at
breakfast time, un café au lait.
(2) voudrais is actually the conditional tense, which will be studied later on.
le timbre=the stamp
le sucre=the sugar
la note=the bill (in hotel)
le plan=the street map
le thé=the tea
l’addition (f.)=the bill (in restaurant)
IRREGULAR VERB : envoyer=to send :
j’envoie=I send etc.
tu envoies
il / elle envoie
le lait=the milk
la carte postale=the postcard
régler=to settle
nous envoyons
vous envoyez
ils / elles envoient
(E) Ask for the following, using ‘je voudrais’:
1. a postcard 2. a stamp 3. a street map of the town 4. an American newspaper 5. some milk 6. some
sugar 7. some tea
and now say that you would like : 8. to telephone New York 9. to settle the hotel bill.
If you want to say that something has to be done, you can use ‘il faut’ (one must, it is necessary) :
Il faut conduire à droite.=You have to drive on the right.
Il faut aller à la pharmacie.=You have to go to the chemist’s.
Also note this useful way of talking about what you need :
Il lui faut un dictionnaire.=He needs a dictionary (literally : ‘it is necessary to him/to her a dictionary’)
Il leur faut un dictionnaire.=They need a dictionary (literally : ‘it is necessary to them a dictionary’)
Il nous faut un dictionnaire.=We need a dictionary (literally : ‘it is necessary to us a dictionary’)
le crayon=the pencil
le stylo-bille=the ball-point pen
l’enveloppe(f.)=the envelope
l’allumette(f.)=the match
(F) Say you need the following:
1. a pencil 2. a ball-point pen
Now, she needs the following:
3. a rubber 4. some writing paper
Now, they need the following:
5. some envelopes 6. some cigarettes 7. some matches
la gomme=the eraser
le papier à lettres=the writing paper