Auxiliary Verbs – Avoir vs Être

French auxiliary verbsAuxiliary verbs are also known as helping verbs, because they help form compound conjugations. The key thing to remember about compound conjugations is that it's the auxiliary verb which conjugates for the required tense or mood; the main verb is always a past participle.


Compound Subjects

French compound subjectsWhen the subject of a French verb is nous, vous, ils, or elles, it's obvious which verb conjugation you need, because those plural pronouns are included in verb tables. But it's a bit trickier with compound subjects made up of multiple names, nouns, and/or pronouns. In these cases, you need to take a moment to figure out which plural subject pronoun those items add up to, so that you know what to conjugate for.




Conditional Perfect, Second Form

Second form of the French conditional perfectThe second form of the conditional perfect suffers from something of an identity crisis: it looks like the pluperfect subjunctive but has the value of the conditional perfect. The second form of the past conditional is used mostly in si clauses and is a literary tense, so is found only in very formal written French.