The Perfect Tense with Être
Last week we revised forming the perfect tense with avoir. This week, we’re building on that learning to look at the perfect tense with verbs that use être. If you have any questions about any of the videos or work from this lesson, email your teacher for advice. You can also share photos of your work or any French memes (mèmes) or jokes (blagues) that you might find to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The perfect tense is used to describe something that happened in the past and is completely finished. e.g. I played tennis or I ate a pizza.
As we saw last week, most verbs start with avoir in the perfect tense (j’ai joué, nous avons fini etc.). However, for 16 verbs we use être instead. This means that instead of starting with j’ai, we use je suis to describe what I did. You will probably recognise je suis allé(e) which means I went. You can see that instead of saying
j’ai allé, we have to say je suis allé with this verb.
We can remember these verbs using the acronym DR & MRS VAN DER TRAMP (see below). Notice that for most verbs, we remove the ER/IR/RE and add the same endings as avoir verbs (é/i/u), but the past participles of devenir, revenir, venir, naître and mourir are irregular.
There are 3 extra rules for these 16 verbs.
- If the verb is describing a female, you must add an e to the past participle: je suis allé / je suis allée
- If you are talking about more than one person, you must add an s to the past participle: nous sommes allés
- If you are talking about more than one female, you must add an es to the past participle: elles sont allées or nous sommes allées
Here is a revision card you could copy or adapt (as well as the Dr & Mrs Van Der Tramp list) to help you remember:
Watch this video for another explanation.
Now complete the worksheet on the Perfect Tense with être verbs. The answers are at the end.
La Blague du jour! (Joke of the day!)
Why do French people only have one egg for breakfast? Because one egg is un œuf?
What do you know about Napoleon? Watch this episode of Horrible Histories to find out more (BBC iPlayer, Series 6, Episode 5).
Proverbe de la semaine (Proverb of the Week)
This proverb or saying basically is a warning against greed; it roughly translates as “the more we want to HAVE (own), the more we risk losing everything”.
Please note that the l’ before on isn’t used nowadays in French so please don’t use it. This is a very old saying in archaic French! 🙂
Mega Challenge: Reflexive Verbs in the Perfect Tense
Today’s lesson looked at the Perfect Tense with être verbs using the 16 Dr & Mrs Van Der Tramp verbs. Reflexive verbs also use être in the perfect tense. If you wish to learn about this as an extra challenge, you can visit this site to learn more and practise it:
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson. We would love your feedback about our French posts so please do email us at email@example.com