French auxiliary verbs (avoir, être)
The auxiliary verbs ( les auxiliaires ) être and avoir are important verbs in the French language. They are used to form the compound times.
The past participle can agree but it depends on the auxiliary: with the auxiliary 'avoir', the past participle agrees with the direct object complement only if it is placed before the verb in the sentence and with the auxiliary ' être', the past participle agrees with the subject.
- 1.The auxiliary verb avoir in French
- 1.1.Example sentences with transitive verbs
- 1.2.Conjugation chart of the French verb avoir
- 2.The auxiliary verb être in French
- 2.1.Example sentences with the verb être
- 2.2.Conjugation chart of the French verb être
- 3.Usage of être and avoir
- 3.1.Examples for the verbs of movement
- 3.2.Examples for the verbs of change
- 3.3.Example for the passive and active form
The auxiliary verb avoir in French
The auxiliary verb 'avoir' is always conjuguated with transitive verbs (those that can have a direct object complement or indirect). Transitive verbs possess an object complement on which the action designated by the verb takes place. It can be a direct object (COD) or an indirect object (COI). among those verbs you can find:
- construire (to build)
- boire (to drink)
- connaître (to know)
- découvrir (to discover)
- parler (to speak, talk)
- sourire (to smile)
Example sentences with transitive verbs
|avoir + transitive verbs||direct or indirect objet||translation|
|Tu||as construit||cette maison||you built this house|
|Il||as connu||Samantha à l'école||he met you Samantha at school|
|nous||avions découvert||une jolie grotte||we discovered a beautiful cave|
|ils||ont parlé||à leur père||they talked to their father|
|elle||a souri||au bel homme||she smiled to the beautiful man|
Conjugation chart of the French verb avoir
The verb avoir is completely irregular and is formed in different times as follows:
|present||imperfect||future simple||past simple||subjunctive|
|tu as||tu avais||tu auras||tu eus||que tu ais|
|il/elle/on a||il/elle/on avait||il/elle/on aura||il/elle/on eut||qu'il/elle/on ait|
|nous avons||nous avions||nous aurons||nous eumes||que nous ayons|
|vous avez||vous aviez||vous aurez||vous eûtes||que vous ayez|
|ils/elles ont||ils/elles avaient||ils/elles auront||ils/elles eurent||qu'ils/elles aient|
The conditional of avoir is the future simple stem + imperfect endings.
The auxiliary verb être in French
All pronominal verbs always conjugate with the auxiliary 'être'. Some intransitive verbs (those who never have an indirect or direct object) conjugate with the auxiliary 'être'.
Among intrasitive verbs you find:
- aller (to go)
- arriver (to arrive)
- descendre (come down)
- entrer (come in)
- monter (ascend)
- mourir (to die)
- naître (to be born)
- partir (to leave)
- retourner (to return)
- sortir (to go out)
- tomber (to fall)
- venir (to come)
- demeurer (to stay)
- rester (to stay)
- passer pour (to look like)
Example sentences with the verb être
|Je suis restée jusqu'au soir||I stayed until the night|
|Je me suis lavé ce matin||I took a shower this morning|
|Tu es passé pour le faible||You looked like the weak.|
Conjugation chart of the French verb être
The verb être is completely irregular and is formed in different times as follows:
|Present||Imperfect||Future simple||Past simple||Subjunctive|
|je suis||j'étais||je serai||je fus||que je sois|
|tu es||tu étais||tu seras||tu fus||que tu sois|
|il/elle/on est||il/elle/on était||il/elle/on sera||il/elle/on fut||qu'il/elle/on soit|
|nous sommes||nous étions||nous serons||nous fumes||que nous soyons|
|vous étiez||vous étiez||vous serez||vous futes||que vous soyez|
|ils/elles sont||ils/elles étaient||ils/elles seront||ils/elles furent||qu'ils/elles soient|
The conditional of être uses the future simple stem + imperfect endings.
Usage of être and avoir
Examples for the verbs of movement
In general, some verbs of movement are conjugated with the auxiliary 'avoir' in a transitive clause, or with the auxiliary ' être' in an intransitive clause.
- Je suis passée par la ville. (I went by the city.)
- J'ai passé un bon week-end. (I spent a good weekend.)
- Elle a rentré sa voiture. (she entered her car.)
- Elle est rentrée très tard. (she came back very late.)
Examples for the verbs of change
Some verbs of change normally are combined with the auxiliary 'avoir' to emphasize change, but can also be combined with the auxiliary 'etre' to emphasize the result of the change.
- Ma soeur a divorcé il y a cinq ans. (my sister divorced five years ago)
- Ma soeur est divorcée depuis cinq ans. (my sister got divorced five years ago.)
Example for the passive and active form
In the passive form, you always use the auxiliary être but you use the auxiliary 'avoir' in the active form.
- J'ai pris rendez-vous chez le médecin. (I took an apointment at the doctor.)
- Le rendez vous est pris depuis une semaine. (the appointment was taken one week ago.)
Test your knowledge of the auxiliary verbs être and avoir by solving our online exercises!
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