Passé composé

Compound past tense

French has several different past tenses, but the most important one is the passé composé. Just to make things interesting, it has three possible English equivalents:

1. j’ai mangé I ate simple past
2. j’ai mangé I have eaten present perfect
3. j’ai mangé I did eat past emphatic

The passé composé is used when talking about

A completed action

      Oui, j’ai mangé à 8h. Yes, I did eat at 8am.

A repeated action

  J’y ai mangé 3 fois. I’ve eaten there 3 times.

A series of actions

  J’ai mangé et puis je suis sorti avec Paul. I ate, then I went out with Paul.

Conditions in likely situations (si clauses)

  Si tu as perdu, tu dois féliciter le gagnant. If you lost, you have to congratulate the winner.

  The passé composé is often used alongside the imperfect, which can be very confusing for French students: passé composé vs imparfait.

 Related lessons

French lesson plans French lesson plans

 Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

French passé composé

Think you've mastered 'Passé composé'? Test yourself now...
Loading your Kwiz
Stay up to date with Lawless French!
Twitter Facebook Google+ Instagram Pinterest YouTube RSS Newsletter

Any Questions?

 Get help on the forum.

More Lawless French

 Subscribe to my twice-weekly newsletter.

Support Lawless French

  This free website is created with love and a great deal of work.

If you love it, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation.

Your support is entirely optional but tremendously appreciated.

Comments or questions about this page?