French Verbs Are Accessible

Passé Composé-

Part 3: Intransitive Verbs that take Etre as the Helping Verb -

This module will concentrate on a special group of intransitive verbs that use the helping verb être in the passé composé. You will notice two things about them:

  1. They do not take a direct object.
  2. Almost all involve a change in location, and the action frequently depicts some kind of going and coming.

As you listen to the following table of the most common verbs in this group, notice that several form pairs of opposite actions:

French Verbs- English Translations-
aller- to go-
arriver- to arrive-
entrer- to enter-
sortir- to go out, come out-
venir- to come-
revenir- to come back, return-
rentrer- to return home-
retourner- to return-
partir- to leave, depart-
monter- to go up-
descendre- to go down-
tomber- to fall-
rester- to stay, remain-
devenir- to become-
naître- to be born-
mourir- to die-

There is a mnemonic or memory-aiding device designed to help remember these verbs. Each letter in Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp suggests another verb that uses être as the auxiliary in the passé composé.

You must know the present tense of être and the past participle of the verbs you want to conjugate. Also, unlike verbs that use the helping verb avoir, the past participle must agree with the subject. A few examples include: elle est allée (she went), nous sommes sortis (we went out), and il est rentré (he returned home).

Here is the verb partir conjugated in the passé composé.

Partir- To Leave-
je suis parti, je suis partie- I left, have left-
tu es parti, tu es partie- you -- familiar -- left, have left-
il est parti- he, left, has left-
elle est partie- she, left, has left-
nous sommes partis, nous sommes parties- we left, have left-
vous êtes parti, vous êtes partie, vous êtes partis, ou vous êtes parties- you left, have left-
ils sont partis- they left, have left-
elles sont parties- they left, have left-