The perfect tense with ÊTRE

Updated: Sep 7, 2020


Before learning about the Perfect tense with ÊTRE, you need to know the perfect tense with AVOIR. Click here to view.


Most verbs form their perfect tense with AVOIR, but there are two main groups of verbs which form their perfect tense with ÊTRE.

  1. a selection of intransitive verbs

  2. reflexive verbs


Intransitive verbs using ÊTRE as an auxiliary:


Intransitive verbs are usually verbs of being or motion that do not require an object to complete them (e.g: aller). There are 17 verbs to know in this category.

Below are two ways to remember and learn these verbs.


1. DR. MRS. P. VANDERTRAMP

This mnemonic gives you the first letter of each verb using ÊTRE as an auxiliary in the perfect tense.


2. La maison d'être

This mnemonic is more visual and might work better for you.


Below is a table giving you the past participle of these verbs:

Examples:

Je suis tombé. I fell/ I have fallen.

Il est parti. He left/ he has left.


BE CAREFUL!

When a verb takes ÊTRE in the perfect tense, the past participle ALWAYS agrees with the subject. This means that the ending of the past participle changes depending on who is doing the action.


For a feminine subject: add an -e

For a plural subject: add an -s

For a feminine plural subject: add -es


Examples:

Elle est allée à la plage. She went to the beach.

Nous sommes arrivés tard. We arrived late.


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Keep on reading to know something slightly more advanced or skip to reflexive verbs

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Agreement when the subject is 'on':


-When the pronoun 'on' is used and refers to people in general, the past participle is left as a masculine singular form.

Example:

On est allé trop loin. People went too far.


-When the pronoun 'on' is used and refers to a specific group of people or we, the past participle can agree and changes to the plural feminine or plural masculine form.

Example:

On est allées à la piscine (ma sœur et moi). We went to the swimming-pool.


This type of agreement is often used in books, but native speakers might tell you that it is wrong to agree the past participle. To know more about the pronoun 'on', check <