Click here for a Daily Dose of Positivity Let's get through the coronavirus together »

Conjugate vouloir (+avoir) in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)

In Passé composé, the verb vouloir (to want) has an irregular past participle: voulu.

VOULOIR   (to want)

j'

ai voulu

tu

as voulu

il / elle / on     

a voulu

nous

avons voulu

vous

avez voulu

ils/elles

ont voulu


Here's the pattern to conjugate vouloir in Passé composé :

avoir in Le Présent + voulu


Here are some examples to listen to:

J'ai toujours voulu visiter Paris.I've always wanted to visit Paris.

Tu as voulu nous rejoindre, mais on était déjà partis.You wanted to join us, but we were already gone.

Mon élève a voulu tricher, mais je l'ai pris la main dans le sac.My pupil tried (wanted) to cheat, but I caught him red-handed.

Nous n'avons jamais voulu vous faire de mal.We never wanted to hurt you.

Je sais que vous avez voulu l'aider, et je vous en remercie.I know you wanted to help him, and I thank you for it.

Elles ont toujours voulu être astronautes.They've always wanted to be astronauts.

In Passé composé, the meaning of vouloir is often closer to "tried".

 

Note that with avoir as an auxiliary, past participles never agree with the subject of the verb:

Il a voulu avaler trop vite, et il s'est étouffé.He tried to swallow too fast, and he choked.

Elle a voulu avaler trop vite, et elle s'est étouffée.She tried to swallow too fast, and she choked.

 See also Using Le Passé Composé on its own or with L'Imparfait

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nous n'avons jamais voulu vous faire de mal.We never wanted to hurt you.
J'ai toujours voulu visiter Paris.I've always wanted to visit Paris.
Elles ont toujours voulu être astronautes.They've always wanted to be astronauts.
Je sais que vous avez voulu l'aider, et je vous en remercie.I know you wanted to help him, and I thank you for it.
Elle a voulu avaler trop vite, et elle s'est étouffée.She tried to swallow too fast, and she choked.
Mon élève a voulu tricher, mais je l'ai pris la main dans le sac.My pupil tried (wanted) to cheat, but I caught him red-handed.
Il a voulu avaler trop vite, et il s'est étouffé.He tried to swallow too fast, and he choked.
Tu as voulu nous rejoindre, mais on était déjà partis.You wanted to join us, but we were already gone.

Q&A Forum 4 questions, 6 answers

ThadB1Kwiziq community member

Difference of using vouloir in the passé composé rather than the imparfait...

Hi, I have a very similar question... with this example from the quiz...

Tu ________ me piéger mais ça n'a pas marché !

You wanted to trick me but it didn't work!HINT: Conjugate vouloir in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)I think I understand that the 'wanted' with vouloir is a one time 'wanting'...is that why we are using the passé composé? In my mind, I think of wanting as an undetermined amount of time as I don´t see a trigger for something specific. Could you help me understand this better? Perhaps I am still thinking in Spanish more than in French? Thanks so much!
Asked 1 week ago
MaartenB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Definitely not due to thinking in Spanish - I can't think/speak Spanish! Although the passé composé is correct in this example from the lesson (source: my French wife)  «J'ai toujours voulu visiter Paris.

I've always wanted to visit Paris.»  neither she nor I can convincingly explain how it is not imparfait - is it because it is considered a 'repetitive action' from the past, even though 'toujours' is used, and even though there is no evidence of whether it is still happening? 
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thad - I think this is similar to the examples in the lesson where voulu is translated as "tried". The action (i.e. wanting) can be considered complete because we know he failed.

Maarten - In your example, it's because it extends into the present. That's definitely implied by the English translation "I've always wanted to visit Paris". The present perfect in English is usually translated by the passé composé, even if the reverse is not true. On the other hand, "Je voulais toujours visiter Paris" = "I always wanted to visit Paris" or "I still wanted to visit Paris".

Difference of using vouloir in the passé composé rather than the imparfait...

Hi, I have a very similar question... with this example from the quiz...

Tu ________ me piéger mais ça n'a pas marché !

You wanted to trick me but it didn't work!HINT: Conjugate vouloir in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)I think I understand that the 'wanted' with vouloir is a one time 'wanting'...is that why we are using the passé composé? In my mind, I think of wanting as an undetermined amount of time as I don´t see a trigger for something specific. Could you help me understand this better? Perhaps I am still thinking in Spanish more than in French? Thanks so much!

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

SamA2Kwiziq community member

Passé composé vs Imparfait?

Ma mère a voulu m'accompagner mais j'ai préféré y aller seule.
My mother wanted to come with me but I preferred to go on my own.
Why do we here use the PC rather than the IMP?
Asked 1 month ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

If your narrative is focusing on the single instance, you use PC.

Passé composé vs Imparfait?

Ma mère a voulu m'accompagner mais j'ai préféré y aller seule.
My mother wanted to come with me but I preferred to go on my own.
Why do we here use the PC rather than the IMP?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AnnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

This relates to Critique Gastronomique writing challenge. Why isn't the imparfait used instead of p.c. for we wanted to avoid "les terrasses touristiq

And why les rather than des?
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Ann,

the use of the imparfait implies a more habitual or repeated action in the past. I am not familiar with this writing challenge but I would assume that they were in the habit of doing so during their vacation?

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

This relates to Critique Gastronomique writing challenge. Why isn't the imparfait used instead of p.c. for we wanted to avoid "les terrasses touristiq

And why les rather than des?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

DraganaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Faire du mal (emotionally)

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Dragana !

The reason faire du mal becomes faire de mal here is because the sentence is negative (nous ne voulons pas).

See also the following lesson:
Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles)">Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles)">Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles)">Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles)

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

DraganaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Nous n'avons jamais voulu vous faire de mal. Why is it faire de mal? I thought it was invariable and it was always faire du mal (Still having problems posting the extra information) So doing it this way - I hope someone sees it

Faire du mal (emotionally)

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

Find your French level

Why not share the love?!

Thinking...