Passer, se passer, se passer de (different meanings of 'passer')

The verb passer in French has a variety of meanings, as diverse as to happen, to do without or simply to pass (by)... 

ATTENTION: it never means to pass (succeed) an exam.
See Passer un exam vs to pass an exam

Here are its main usages: 

Passer [quelque chose/quelqu'un]  
to pass [something/someone] on

First of all, the easy one: passer + thing/person simply means to pass something/someone (on).

Annie, tu me passes le sel ?
Annie, can you pass me the salt?


Attends, je te passe Paul.
Wait, I'm passing Paul onto you.

Passer par / devant ...   (to pass by / in front of...)

Again here, easy: passer (par, devant...) + a location simply means to pass (by, in front of...) somewhere.

Je passe devant chez toi tous les matins.
I pass in front of your house every morning.


Ma tante est passée par la boulangerie en venant ici.
My aunt popped by the bakery on her way here.


Yann passera par chez Laura après le travail.
Yann will pop by Laura's place after work.

Passer + time   (to have + time / to spend + time)

In English, you will use to have to talk about a good time, such as Have a good day! or I had a good evening. In these cases, you will use passer in French:

Je passe un très bon moment.
I´m having a really good time.


Et passez une bonne journée !
And have a good day!

You will also use passer + duration to express to spend (time):

Nous avons passé une semaine à Madrid l'été dernier.
We spent a week in Madrid last summer.


Elles passeront quinze jours en Australie l´année prochaine.
They will spend a fortnight in Australia next year.

  

Se passer   (to happen / take place / to go [event])

To ask How did this event go?, you will use event + (reflexive) se passer:

Comment se sont passées tes vacances ?
How did your holidays go?


La soirée s'est bien passée, tout le monde était content.
The evening went well, everyone was happy.

You can also use thing + se passer to express [this] happens / takes place:

Ça s'est passé un dimanche.
It happened on a Sunday.


Cette histoire se passe au Maroc.
This story takes place in Morocco.

 

Se passer de    (to do without)

And finally, to say that you can do / go without [something/someone], you will use the reflexive form se passer de + thing/person:

Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine.
I´m going to go without bread for a week.

Nous ne pouvons pas nous passer d´eau.
We cannot do without water.

Je peux très bien me passer de toi.
I can very well do without you.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Comment se sont passées tes vacances ?
How did your holidays go?


Attends, je te passe Paul.
Wait, I'm passing Paul onto you.


Nous avons passé une semaine à Madrid l'été dernier.
We spent a week in Madrid last summer.


La soirée s'est bien passée, tout le monde était content.
The evening went well, everyone was happy.


Nous ne pouvons pas nous passer d´eau.
We cannot do without water.


Annie, tu me passes le sel ?
Annie, can you pass me the salt?


Ma tante est passée par la boulangerie en venant ici.
My aunt popped by the bakery on her way here.


Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine.
I´m going to go without bread for a week.


Cette histoire se passe au Maroc.
This story takes place in Morocco.


Je passe devant chez toi tous les matins.
I pass in front of your house every morning.


Elles passeront quinze jours en Australie l´année prochaine.
They will spend a fortnight in Australia next year.


Je peux très bien me passer de toi.
I can very well do without you.


Et passez une bonne journée !
And have a good day!


Yann passera par chez Laura après le travail.
Yann will pop by Laura's place after work.


Je passe un très bon moment.
I´m having a really good time.


Ça s'est passé un dimanche.
It happened on a Sunday.


Q&A Forum 17 questions, 41 answers

Comment ________ tes vacances ?" How are your holidays going?

Comment ________ tes vacances ?" How are your holidays going?Why is the answer to this "se passent" please?   I struggling to work this out!  Wouldnt that be "How are their holidays going?"
Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Amanda,

Se passent agree with vacances which is plural.

How are their holidays going ? would be -

Comment se passent leurs vacances ?

Hope this helps!

Ah yes,  thanks.  I see it now. 

Comment ________ tes vacances ?" How are your holidays going?

Comment ________ tes vacances ?" How are your holidays going?Why is the answer to this "se passent" please?   I struggling to work this out!  Wouldnt that be "How are their holidays going?"

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De vs Du Sel

"Il s'est passé de sel." Why "de sel" and not "du sel"? There's an inherent negation utilized by figuratively "going without" but not formal/grammatic negation via "ne...pas." 
Asked 5 months ago

De vs Du Sel

"Il s'est passé de sel." Why "de sel" and not "du sel"? There's an inherent negation utilized by figuratively "going without" but not formal/grammatic negation via "ne...pas." 

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Please present passé composé for this lesson

I think this lesson could be presented more clearly if conjugations for both present tense and passé composé were given for each item.  
Asked 1 year ago

Hi Katie,

you mean the conjugation of "passer" and "se passer" in passé composé?

Je passe -- Je me suis passé(e)
Tu passes -- Tu t'es passé(e)
Il/elle/on passe -- Il s'est passé/...

Nous passons -- nous nous sommes passé(e)s
Vous passez -- vous vous êtes passé(e)(s)
Ils/elles passent -- ils se sont passés/...

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Please present passé composé for this lesson

I think this lesson could be presented more clearly if conjugations for both present tense and passé composé were given for each item.  

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Passer chez qn: avoir ou etre?

Hi!

I'm confused with the meaning "I pass by sth/sb", would you pls help to clarify?

in the examples to the lesson "Passer with etre and avoir... change meanings"  Passer can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning the sentence Elle est passée chez Laurent hier is certainly used with "etre", while in the example to the current lesson the example with the same meaning as I can understand from translation implies "avoir": Je passe devant chez toi tous les matins.

What is the difference? Is there any particualar nuance?

Thanks!

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Dina,

In the examples you give the verb passer has two different meanings:

Je suis passé(e) d'abord chez elle avant de... = I dropped by her house before ... and it will use être in the perfect tense.

Je suis passé(e) devant chez toi ce matin= I went by your house this morning, will use être too.

The first verb implies a quick visit, to drop by/ to pop in.

The second is to pass by in a physical sense.

Passer quelque chose à quelqu'un to pass something to someone

will take avoir as will passer when it means to spend time .

Je lui ai passé le sel = I gave him the salt.

Nous avons passé de bons moments ensemble = We spent/had some good time together

Hope this helps!

Thanks, this helps!

Passer chez qn: avoir ou etre?

Hi!

I'm confused with the meaning "I pass by sth/sb", would you pls help to clarify?

in the examples to the lesson "Passer with etre and avoir... change meanings"  Passer can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning the sentence Elle est passée chez Laurent hier is certainly used with "etre", while in the example to the current lesson the example with the same meaning as I can understand from translation implies "avoir": Je passe devant chez toi tous les matins.

What is the difference? Is there any particualar nuance?

Thanks!

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Comment se sont passées tes vacances ?

Why not ( comment tes vacances se passent-elles? ) ?

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Nabeel,

The difference between the two sentences is a question of tense.

In the lesson it is "How did your holidays go?" in the past .

Your suggestion is "How is your holiday going?" which is the present tense.

Hope this helps!

 

CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Alan,

If I have understood correctly, you are querying the additional pronoun used in some the more complex questions .

I believe it only happens with the inversion regardless of the tense.

In your last example, you could also say - 

Où M. le Ministre est-il? but it does sound rather pompous...

Some other examples would be :

Madame, va-t-elle prendre quelque chose avec son café?

Pourquoi Juliette va-t-elle seule au cinéma?

Où les enfants sont-ils allés?

and in the original example - Comment tes vacances se sont-elles passées?

Hope this helps!

 

 

 

Hi Cecile,

but why isn't it "comment tes vacances se sont-elles passées"?

Don't you have to use a pronoun in the inversion, as described here:

Forming inverted questions with nouns in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)

I think I found the answer to my question. There is simple inversion ("Comment se sont passées tes vacances?") and complex inversion ("Comment tes vacances se sont-elles passées?").

Comment (and combien and quand) can be used with either form. always takes the simple form, and pourquoi always takes the complex.

Hmm it seems it is more complicated still. The behaviour with  also depends on the tense of the verb and the complexity of the sentence:

Où est Monsieur le Ministre?  

Où M. Le Ministre a-t-il éte reçu? 

Où M. Le Ministre est-il en ce moment?

My grammar book is not very clear on whether this also applies to comment etc.

Hi Cécile,

My point was that according to the lesson below (and other similar lessons), the form with an additional pronoun is always required, but it seems that actually in simple cases it is not required. (And sometimes probably should not be used, because it would sound pompous.) What defines "simple" seems to include tense.

Forming inverted questions with nouns in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)

Comment se sont passées tes vacances ?

Why not ( comment tes vacances se passent-elles? ) ?

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GC1

Could someone explain why "Comment vont tes vacances" is wrong? (vont instead of se passer)

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour G !

Aller in this context is used for people, but not for events.
It means "how are you?" in the sense of "how are you going [health/life-wise]?", so it doesn't work for inanimate objects :)

Bonne journée !

The goal of the lesson is to practice the use of "passer" in its variants. Hence you're supposed to use an appropriate construction in your reply. 

-- Chris. 

GC1
Thankyou Chris and Aurélie for clearing that up !

Could someone explain why "Comment vont tes vacances" is wrong? (vont instead of se passer)

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passer la serpillère (mop something)

Where does mop, vacuum etc fit in with the different passer categories. Your site is unequalled don't worry too much about missing a few questions.
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Michael !

As the lesson states, when passer is followed by a direct object - i.e. to pass [something], it will use the auxiliary avoir in compound tenses:

J'ai passé la serpillère ce matin.
Il a passé l'aspirateur dans sa chambre. 
I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !
I know that to vacuum is "passer l'aspirateur". -- Chris.
CécileKwiziq language super star
Also passer un chiffon , une éponge.... all to do with cleaning . Not to be confused with 'Passer l'éponge ' which means let bygones be bygones!

passer la serpillère (mop something)

Where does mop, vacuum etc fit in with the different passer categories. Your site is unequalled don't worry too much about missing a few questions.

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There are a whole lot of questions here that have never been answered. Why is that?

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Lolli ! The honest answer is: we got a bit overwhelmed and lost track :( But we're reviewing and going back through the Q&A to make sure we answer everyone, and thanks to you, I've now done that for this lesson, so please bear with us :) Bonne journée !

There are a whole lot of questions here that have never been answered. Why is that?

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Pendant and the verb se passer

Hi can I get help with the sentence < Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine.>. I thought that for durations of time in the future you use ? Thanks in advance
Asked 1 year ago
RonC1
Bonjour Krissa, Here is the grammar lesson associated with expressions of duration of time: «Note that these cases all express a duration with a clear beginning and end. Whether they take place in the past, present, or future, they are considered as enclosed in a specific time-frame. In French, you use pendant/durant + [durée], or simply the duration itself, to express a duration with a clear beginning and end. Since the phrase in question, «Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine» has a clear beginning and an end, i.e. one week only, regardless of the start day, the use of pendant is appropriate. Take a look at a comparison example: Beginning tomorrow, I am going to go without bread for a period of time --> À partir de demain, je vais me passer de pain pour une période de temps. In this example, this grammar rule would be applicable because there is no clearly defined beginning AND end, just the beginning or start of the period, i.e. demain. This sentence expresses a future duration, with a notion of intent, hence the use of pour. In French, you use pour + [durée] only to express a duration in the future. J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français.

Pendant and the verb se passer

Hi can I get help with the sentence < Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine.>. I thought that for durations of time in the future you use ? Thanks in advance

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Passé composé with être or avoir or both?

Hi can you help me with the conjugation of "passer"with être and avoir. There is an example of both but I'm not sure how to know when to use them.. Ma tante est passée........, nous avons passé une semaine...... When it's se passer it's not a problem as it's always conjugated with être. Many thanks
Asked 2 years ago
GruffKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Salut Celine,

Check out:
Passer can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning">Passer can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning">Passer can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning">Passer can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning

Also, you can follow the link in that lesson "Verbes aux deux auxiliaires" to see information and lessons for verbs that can use both avoir and être in Le Passé Composé.

Technically, it's a matter of whether the verbs are used in their transitive or intransitive forms, but the easiest pattern to spot is whether or not a preposition follows (en, à, sur, dans etc.)

Hope that helps!
RonC1
Bonjour Celine, I too have difficulty with the use of être or avoir with certain verbs to give a different meaning. Most verbs use either avoir or être as the auxiliary verb in le Passé Composé (or other compound tense), but passer uses both, depending on what it means in the sentence*. être + passé = pass by = go past = stop by = pop by avoir + passé = spend = take = pass (to someone) I am not exactly sure how and when to differentiate the two in the respective function. The only thing that seems to have helped are the translations given in the lesson, and to me even that is somewhat ambiguous with certain verbs. Wish that i had more to offer you besides just saying that there are others who experience the same issue.l Bonne chance ! Ron
Merci Ron, je suis contente que je ne suis pas seule:) C

Passé composé with être or avoir or both?

Hi can you help me with the conjugation of "passer"with être and avoir. There is an example of both but I'm not sure how to know when to use them.. Ma tante est passée........, nous avons passé une semaine...... When it's se passer it's not a problem as it's always conjugated with être. Many thanks

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I have a question

At the beginning of this lesson you said "ATTENTION: it never means to pass (succeed) an exam." But in the kwizzes youre marking it as correct in "Il a passé son examen". I took a screen shot (http://i.imgur.com/gDxj3dx.png). By any chance do you mean He passed his exam (e.g. to the teacher, to the person infront of him)? Its kind of confusing when youre using the same word in different contexts.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Bonjour Héctor !

As Ron noticed, "passer" can mean "to *take* an exam", which means to sit an exam, to do it, without any mention of the result.
However, "to pass" in English contains the notion of succeeding, of getting the exam, which in French would be expressing otherwise, with verbs like "avoir / obtenir / réussir".

See our related lessons:
Passer un exam vs to pass an exam">Passer un exam vs to pass an exam">Passer un exam vs to pass an exam">Passer un exam vs to pass an exam
Avoir un exam = To pass an exam">Avoir un exam = To pass an exam">Avoir un exam = To pass an exam">Avoir un exam = To pass an exam

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !
RonC1
Bonjour Héctor, Dans la phrase «Il a passé son examen"» il a passé traduit «He took his test». Il n'y a pas une reference n'il a le succès n'il l'a raté. J'espère que cela vous aidera. Ron

I have a question

At the beginning of this lesson you said "ATTENTION: it never means to pass (succeed) an exam." But in the kwizzes youre marking it as correct in "Il a passé son examen". I took a screen shot (http://i.imgur.com/gDxj3dx.png). By any chance do you mean He passed his exam (e.g. to the teacher, to the person infront of him)? Its kind of confusing when youre using the same word in different contexts.

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DavidC1

Isn't "Je te passe Paul" ambiguous? How do you know which is the direct and indirect pronoun ?

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour David ! Here, it would be literally "I pass Paul to you" or in incorrect French "Je passe Paul à toi". Therefore, "Paul" is the direct object here (not introduced by a preposition) when "te" is the indirect object pronoun. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
How would I say: "I'm passing you to her"? Would it be: "Je lui passe toi"?
Or maybe it is: "Je lui te passe".
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Harris !

Your question is actually more complex than it looked :)

I spent a few minutes turning it over in my (native) head, and the conclusion is in French you can't say "I'm passing you to her."!

Instead we'd shift the point of view and would say "I'm passing her to you.":

Je vous la passe. / Je te la passe.

 

I hope that's helpful!

David asked:View original

Isn't "Je te passe Paul" ambiguous? How do you know which is the direct and indirect pronoun ?

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se passer

Can you please explain "on s'est passé par là?" vs " on est passé par là?" The first phrase was the correct one on the quiz
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Diana ! "On s'est passé par là" is not a correct sentence in French, so it shouldn't be marked as correct: "on est passé par là" is the only correct option here. I've looked into our system, and "est passé" is marked as the correct answer. Would you by any chance remember when you took that test, so we can find your correction board records and look into it ? Merci et à bientôt !
I'm sorry- I hope you can strike this conversation - I wrote it down wrong- you are correct! :(
By the way, I'd like to congratulate you on what a good program this is. Among the best ways to learn french- you fill a void between pimsleur and rosetta stone- good job indeed!
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Merci beaucoup Diana et Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année !

se passer

Can you please explain "on s'est passé par là?" vs " on est passé par là?" The first phrase was the correct one on the quiz

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AurélieKwiziq language super star

Joakim asked: "I saw [comment vont tes vacances ?] Is that an odd use or could "vont" be accepted?

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Joakim ! Mmmmhhh, that's a tricky one. Instinctively, I would say it's wrong, it sounds really off to me as a native French speaker. So I looked around, and found some examples with it, mostly from non-natives, but also some French people, such as the case you quoted. However, only in the form of a question. You could not say: "Mes vacances vont bien." as it sounds like your holiday is a person! So I'd mark it as half correct, as it is definitely not the most colloquial way to say this, but can be found... I hope that answers your question! Merci et à bientôt !

Joakim asked: "I saw [comment vont tes vacances ?] Is that an odd use or could "vont" be accepted?

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what about passer for giving an exam/sitting for exams- je passe mes examens

Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Radhika, Yes, that's correct as well.
Merci Laura:))
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Radhika !

Here is the link to our lesson on "passer un exam vs to pass an exam", which is also available in the lesson on "passer" :

https://french.kwiziq.com/my-languages/french/view/3175

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

what about passer for giving an exam/sitting for exams- je passe mes examens

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There are too many different meanings for passer. Can you recommend some synonyms please?

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Robyn !

I understand your confusion, but it's very similar to some English verbs that are used to express many things, such as "to get" (a nightmare for French speakers!).

I can't really give you synonyms as for most of these cases, "passer" is the colloquial verb to use, however I'd be happy to provide alternatives if you give me specific cases :)

Bonne journée !

JimC1
I suspect that this question has not been answered because there are too many variables. It's a matter of context, context, context (repeated deliberately) and so you would need to be clear about what it is that you want to convey in order to select the most appropriate form of this verb. When you are clear then it would be possible to look for synonyms for that particular context.

There are too many different meanings for passer. Can you recommend some synonyms please?

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Passer devant vs passer par

Passer devant chez-toi, I understand, means to go passed your house, but passer par chez-toi, to pop in to your house, or pass by (but not go in) or both ?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Jennifer ! I would say that "passer par chez quelqu'un" can mean both@ either that you stopped by that person's place, or you passed by their place. For example, you could say "Je suis passé par la mairie pour venir, c'était plus court." (I passed by the town hall to come here, it was shorter.) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
Bonjour Aurélie, Merci bien pour votre réponse. C'était exactement ce que je voudrait savoir. À bientôt aussi, Jennifer PS hope it makes sense
SueC1
Could you include an example of passer par chez qqn in your examples please

Passer devant vs passer par

Passer devant chez-toi, I understand, means to go passed your house, but passer par chez-toi, to pop in to your house, or pass by (but not go in) or both ?

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