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

Completed actions

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

Repeated actions

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

Series of actions

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

Condition 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. For detailed info, see passé composé vs imparfait.

   
PwLF passé composé quizzes

 Related lessons

French lesson plans French lesson plans

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French passé composé

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