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passÚ antÚrieur
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1. formation
  2. uses


Like the 'passé simple', the passé antérieur is a literary tense. They are often found together in the same text. The passé antérieur is used in literature, in formal writing, and in very formal speeches, when speaking of past events which are prior to other past actions; it is the literary equivalent of the plus-que-parfait. In other words, it is used for a past action that was completed before another action in the past (usually expressed in the passé simple).

formation
The passé antérieur is formed with the passé simple of the appropriate auxiliary (avoir or être) plus the past participle of the main verb.

Passé antérior = auxiliary in the literary past + past participle of main verb

audio
parler  'to speak'
j'eus parlé, I had spoken nous eûmes parlé, we had spoken
tu eus parlé, you had spoken vous eûtes parlé, you had spoken
il / elle / on eut parlé, he / she / it had spoken ils / elles eurent parlé, they had spoken


audio
aller  'to go'
je fus allé(e), I had gone nous fûmes allé(e)s, we had gone
tu fus allé(e), you had gone vous fûtes allé(e)(s), you had gone
il / elle / on fut allé(e), he / she / it had gone ils / elles furent allé(e)s, they had gone


For a list of verbs that use être as an auxiliary, like aller, see the Alamo of être. Remember that all pronominal verbs require être as the auxiliary verb.

audio
se coucher  'to go to bed'
je me fus couché(e), I had gone to bed nous nous fûmes couché(e)s, we had gone to bed
tu te fus couché(e), you had gone to bed vous vous fûtes couché(e)(s), you had gone to bed
il / elle / on se fut couché(e), he / she / it had gone to bed ils / elles se furent couché(e)s, they had gone to bed


uses
The passé antérieur occurs most often in subordinate clauses; it is introduced by conjunctions such as après (after), aussitôt que or dèsque (as soon as). Note that, in this case, the main clause is always in the passé simple. The English equivalent is usually (but not always) had + past participle.

audio
prior action in the past
(passé antérieur)
action in the past
(passé simple)
Aussitôt qu'il fut né, Tex commença à parler.
As soon as he was born, Tex began to speak.
Après qu'il eut vécu quelques années à Paris, Tex retourna dans son pays d'origine
After he had lived several years in Paris, Tex returned to his native land.
Quand il eut publié son premier recueil de poèmes érotiques, il y eut un grand scandale.
When he had published his first collection of erotic poems, there was a big scandal.


With quand and lorsque (when), the choice of tense depends on the meaning of each clause, as to which action occurs first. In the last example, Tex published his poems first (passé antérieur in the dependent clause) and then there was a scandal. However, the passé antérieur may also occur in the main clause, and the passé simple in the dependent clause: Quand il arriva au Texas, Tex eut déjà fait la connaissance de Tammy.

elle nettoyer les fenetres ...
audio
Les enfants: Maman, maman, raconte-nous la suite de l'histoire de Cendrillon!   Children: Mommy, mommy, tell us the rest of the story of Cinderella!
Rita: Bon, d'accord. "On défendit à Cendrillon d'aller au bal du roi et on lui ordonna de faire le ménage dans toute la maison. Une fois seule, Cendrillon se mit au travail ... Quand elle eut fini de nettoyer les fenêtres, elle fit les lits. Lorsque les chambres furent propres, elle fit la vaisselle. Enfin, après qu'elle eut rangé toute la maison, elle éclata en sanglots ... . Alors sa marraine la Fée apparut ..."   Rita: Oh, OK. "Cinderella was forbidden to go to the king's ball and was ordered to clean the house from top to bottom. Once alone, Cinderella started to work ... When she had finished cleaning the windows, she made the beds. When the bedrooms were clean, she did the dishes. Finally, after she had tidied up the whole house, she broke into sobs ... . Then her fairy godmother appeared ..."
On entend les enfants ronfler.   Sound of the children snoring.

texercises

fill in the blanks
Give the passé antérieur of the verb indicated in parentheses.
1. Les nonnes françaises ______ au Texas. (voyager)


2. Tex ______ les oeuvres de Sartre. (étudier)


3. Rita: Tu ______ tout seul. (partir)


4. Tex: J'______ ma profession à l'âge de 6 ans. (choisir)


5. Rita: Nous ______ sans Tex. (ne pas s'amuser)


6. Tex: Rita et Trey, vous ______ votre frère! (oublier)


7. Les parents de Tex ______ amoureux à Houston. (tomber)


8. La mère supérieure ______ à Lyon pendant la guerre. (venir)


9. La mère supérieure ______ plusieurs orphelins. (élever)


10. Paw-Paw ______ la femme de sa vie à Paris. (connaître)


11. Paw-Paw ______ héros de la guerre. (devenir)


12. Les parents de Tex ______ sur l'autoroute. (mourir)