Conjugate coming and going verbs (+ être) in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)

In Passé composé or conversational past, most verbs use avoir as their auxiliary.
However, a fixed number of verbs use être as their auxiliary verb instead.  
They are almost all verbs to do with movement:

Je suis venu te voir.
I came to see you.

Tu es rentré tard.
You came home late.

Le voleur est entré par la fenêtre.
The thief entered by the window.

Nous sommes revenus.
We came back.

Vous êtes allés au cirque hier.
You went to the circus yesterday.

Marc est tombé par terre.
Marc fell on the floor.

Ils sont arrivés à l'heure.
They arrived on time.

You say: Je suis allé (I went) and not j'ai allé.

ATTENTION:

Note that the past participle following être agrees with the subject of the verb.
To learn about this, see Agreeing past participle with subject's gender and number with (+ être) verbs in Le Passé Composé

The verbs to do with coming and going use être

Aller to go – allé
Venir – to come – venu
Revenir – to come back – revenu
Arriver – to arrive – arrivé
Entrer – to enter – entré
Rentrer – to re-enter – rentré
Retourner to return – retourné
Sortir – to exit – sorti
Partir – to leave – parti
Tomber – to fall – tombé
 
There is also a "house diagram" showing these verbs in one easy-to-remember picture on Wikipedia:
La maison être  
  

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources


Nous sommes revenus.
We came back.


On est partis tôt.
We left early.


Je suis venu te voir.
I came to see you.


Marc est tombé par terre.
Marc fell on the floor.


Tu es rentré tard.
You came home late.


Elle est allée au marché.
She went to the market.


Vous êtes allés au cirque hier.
You went to the circus yesterday.


Le voleur est entré par la fenêtre.
The thief entered by the window.



Ils sont arrivés à l'heure.
They arrived on time.


Q&A Forum 10 questions, 16 answers

LorieA2Kwiziq community member

Revenir vs Rentrer vs Retourner

Is there a lesson that helps us to understand the distinction between each of these three verbs (revenir, rentrer, retourner) and when one is used versus the other?

Asked 3 weeks ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Retourner -- to go back to a place, where the speaker is not located. When used transitively (i.e., with a direct object, it means to return something, e.g., an ill-fitting garment)
Revenir -- to go back to a place where the speaker is.
Rentrer -- to go go back "home".

Some examples:

Marc a oublié son porte-monnaie au restaurant. Il va y retourner pour le retrouver. -- Marc forgot his wallet at the restaurant. He will go back there to get it.

Ce pull ne me va pas du tout. Je le retourne tout de suite. -- That sweater doesn't fit me at all. I'll return it immediately.

Mon amie est partie. Elle reviendra demain. -- My friend has left. She will come back tomorrow.

Je viens de rentrer. -- I just got back home.

Revenir vs Rentrer vs Retourner

Is there a lesson that helps us to understand the distinction between each of these three verbs (revenir, rentrer, retourner) and when one is used versus the other?

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SaraB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

One of the quiz questions is:

Tu ________ à finir ton exercice. 
You managed to finish your exercise.HINT: Conjugate arriver (to manage) using le Passé Composé (conversational past)
The answer given is ‘es arrivé’. So, even when ‘arriver’ means ‘to manage’ rather than ‘to arrive’, & therefore doesn’t actually have anything to do with movement or coming & going, its auxiliary is still être rather than avoir?
Are there any further such instances we should bear in mind?
Thank you. 
Asked 3 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Yes, arriver always goes with être. Some verbs change meaning depending on whether you use them with être or avoir. Others only use avoir. So you got everything.

One of the quiz questions is:

Tu ________ à finir ton exercice. 
You managed to finish your exercise.HINT: Conjugate arriver (to manage) using le Passé Composé (conversational past)
The answer given is ‘es arrivé’. So, even when ‘arriver’ means ‘to manage’ rather than ‘to arrive’, & therefore doesn’t actually have anything to do with movement or coming & going, its auxiliary is still être rather than avoir?
Are there any further such instances we should bear in mind?
Thank you. 

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Linda C1Kwiziq community member

Correction to this lesson

Shouldn’t it be

On est parti  tôt??

Asked 3 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Linda,

No, as 'on' represents 'nous' here,  so partis has to agree in gender and number.

Hope this helps!

Correction to this lesson

Shouldn’t it be

On est parti  tôt??

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JohnA2Kwiziq community member

Can you please define ‘ conversational past ‘ a little more clearly ?

Asked 5 months ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour John !

We have a glossary page explaining in details what the conversational past, or Passé Composé, entails :

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/glossary/verb-tense-mood/the-french-simple-past-le-passe-compose

Now thanks to you, we've made the link to that explanatory page clearer on the lesson page :)

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

JohnA2Kwiziq community member

Many Thanks.

Can you please define ‘ conversational past ‘ a little more clearly ?

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HeatherB1Kwiziq community member

In the example “On est partis.” partis is made plural even though on is considered singular. Is this correct?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Heather, 

'On' in this case is 'we', so the past participles agrees in plurality, a bit quirky but correct...

CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Jinn,

On is like il or elle in terms of conjugating the verb.

Take a look at the following lesson for examples  

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/subject-pronouns-nous-versus-on

and in particular the green box :

On is a more informal we, used predominantly in speech or casual writing (in emails to your friends for example). This is also a singular pronoun which is followed by the same form of the verb as singular il or elle. 

Hope this helps!

JinnB1Kwiziq community member

But ètre is still singular, 'On est partis tôt.'? Is it correct when 'On' is 'we', the past participle is in plural form, but ètre is in third person singular form. 

HeatherB1Kwiziq community member

Vous êtes parti and vous êtes partis are both accepted as vous can be singular  or plural. The form of être doesn’t change, just the past participle. We just need to think of “on” the same way, it can have a singular or plural meaning, still followed by “est”, but a past participle that changes with plurality. 

In the example “On est partis.” partis is made plural even though on is considered singular. Is this correct?

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SusanC1Kwiziq community member

In the question 'You came home late' should it have indicated whether the 'you' was male or female ?

Asked 9 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I believe it will accept either gender if there is no specific hint.

Susan asked:View original

In the question 'You came home late' should it have indicated whether the 'you' was male or female ?

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MadeleineC1Kwiziq community member

monter and descendre

'Monter' and 'Descendre' weren't included on the list, but I believe they also conjugate with 'etre'. Do you cover these in a different topic?
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
Monter et descendre can use both être and avoir and change meaning in doing so. There are lessons on this specific topic.

monter and descendre

'Monter' and 'Descendre' weren't included on the list, but I believe they also conjugate with 'etre'. Do you cover these in a different topic?

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TerriC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

arriver, to manage, also uses être as the auxiliary verb?

I answered the quiz using 'as arrivé' for 'managed', but it was marked wrong and this is the linked page. There are other verbs which sometimes and avoir and sometimes être depending on meaning. Do I correctly understand that with arriver it only uses être? Thank you, Terri
Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Terri, The rule is that when verbs like sortir and monter are transitive (followed by a direct object), they take avoir; otherwise it's être. In the case of arriver, it's impossible to use a direct object; therefore, the auxiliary is always être. I hope this helps, bonne continuation !
TerriC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks so much, Laura. This is a great help, and very clear! Terri

arriver, to manage, also uses être as the auxiliary verb?

I answered the quiz using 'as arrivé' for 'managed', but it was marked wrong and this is the linked page. There are other verbs which sometimes and avoir and sometimes être depending on meaning. Do I correctly understand that with arriver it only uses être? Thank you, Terri

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Susan C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is, tomber par terre, idiomatic?

If not, why not use, plancher? And what happened to the definite articles?
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Susan, Yes, "tomber par terre" is idiomatic. "Par terre" is a set expression meaning "on the ground." Tomber au plancher is also acceptable.
Susan C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Interesting, given the distinction drawn in English between "ground" and "floor" - even though this example is idiomatic. Merci!

Is, tomber par terre, idiomatic?

If not, why not use, plancher? And what happened to the definite articles?

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JuliaA1Kwiziq community member

Vous êtes allés au cirque hier. Why does she pronounce the s in etes but not the s in alles?

Asked 3 years ago
MarkC1Kwiziq community member
I think the reason is that some liaisons in French are voluntary, and this is one of them. You can pronounce the s in allés or leave it out whichever you prefer at the time. Though when reading poetry I believe it's normal to pronounce all possible liaisons.

Vous êtes allés au cirque hier. Why does she pronounce the s in etes but not the s in alles?

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