Verbs of movement with ”to be”? NO !
Verbs of “life” with “to be”? NO !
Hospital verbs with “to be”? NO !
In this article, I remind you of the list of verbs that can be used with “to be” in compound tenses passé composé, plus-que-parfait, futur antérieur, conditionnel passé, subjonctif passé (past tense, more-than-perfect, future tense, conditional past, subjunctive past).
You’ll see, it’s very SIMPLE 👍
The proof that the verb “to be” is not used with the verbs of movement
1. Which verb is it?
To walk! Yes !
In the past tense, do we say: “j’ai marché” ou “je suis marché”?
j’ai marché ! (I walked)
2. Which verb is it?
Past tense: “j’ai couru” ou “je suis couru” ?
j’ai couru ! (I ran)
Yet walking and running are really verbs of motion, right??!
And there are many more examples like that.
So, please, forget this idea that verbs of motion are conjugated with “to be”… or verbs of life… or verbs of the hospital… or whatever!
Do you like learning French with videos?
What kind of verbs are conjugated with “to be” in French compound tense?
There are two types of verbs that are conjugated with “be” in the compound tenses:
1. Verbs in the reflexive (pronominal) form → se…
se coiffer, se lever, se mettre… (to do one’s hair, to get up, to put on…)
- Elle s’est coiffée (She did her hair)
- Nous nous sommes levés(es) (We got up)
- Ils se sont mis au lit tôt (They went to bed early)
ALL verbs in the reflexive form!
2. And a very small list of other verbs.
Of course, to memorize this list, you can imagine a story using each of the verbs. It’s always easier to memorize a list by putting them in a story.
And… that’s why French teachers use a story (with movements, or with life, or with the hospital) to make their students memorize the list of verbs.
But, what do students do?
- Forget the teacher’s story very quickly…
- To finally think that “all movement verbs are used with to be”.
Also, BEWARE, in this list of verbs that are conjugated with “to be” in compound tenses, some are sometimes conjugated with “to have”.
We’ll see about that!
List of verbs that are conjugated with “être” in the French compound tenses
I repeat, this is a small list of verbs:
12 verbs are always conjugated with “to be” in compound tenses
6 verbs are conjugated either with “to be” or with “to have”.
That means less than 20 verbs to memorize!
The 12 verbs that are always conjugated with “to be” in compound tenses
The 6 verbs that can be conjugated with “être” or “avoir” in French compound tenses
Let’s complicate the list a little more, we’ll add the 6 verbs that can be conjugated with be or have.
Let’s see when we conjugate these verbs with “avoir”.
The rule is very simple: is there a COD in the sentence?
COD? Do you remember? The Direct Object Complement.
If you want more explanation about the C.O.D., watch this video where I explain what a C.O.D. is.
Let’s go back to the verbs that are conjugated with “to be” or “to have”. As a general rule, they conjugate with “to be”; but, if there is a COD in the sentence, they conjugate with “to have”.
1. Je suis monté dans le train. (I got on the train.)
→ Is there a COD in the sentence? … No. So we use “to be”.
2. J’ai monté la valise dans le train. (I got the suitcase on the train.)
→ Is there a COD in the sentence? … Yes (the suitcase). So we use “to have”.
Easy, isn’t it?
Well, in total, there are 6 verbs that work this way.
Verbs with “être” or “avoir” in the past tense in French
Little French PDF Bonus
Do you want to continue practicing with the verbs that use “to be” in the compound tenses?
Do you want to have a summary sheet with all the information we’ve just seen?
Well, download the Little Bonus PDF right now! It’s free, and there are even exercises with corrections.
So, please, memorize the list of verbs that use “to be” in the compound tenses, remember that all reflexive verbs are conjugated with “to be” and like that, you will never make mistakes again.
You’ll become the World Champion of French compound tense conjugation 🙂
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