Rentrer can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning

Most verbs use either avoir or être as the auxiliary verb in Passé composé (or other compound tense)but rentrer uses both, depending on its grammatical usage* and what it means in the sentence.
 
*Grammaphile's Corner : the technical grammatical distinction between these cases is actually whether the verb is used in a transitive or intransitive manner. 
- The transitive version (the version with a direct object) uses avoir.
- The intransitive version (lacking a direct object), uses être.
 

être + rentré [quelque part]

= to go/come in(to) [something/somewhere] 
= to go/come back in(to) [something/somewhere]
= to go/come/get home

Je suis rentré de vacances tard hier soir.
I came back from holiday late yesterday evening.

Vous êtes rentrés dans la pharmacie à six heures.
You came into the pharmacy at six o'clock.

Quand tu es rentré dans la pièce, elle n'était plus là.
When you came back into the room, she was gone.

Note that in each case where être is the auxilliary, the verb rentrer is followed by a preposition (en, sur, dans, à, etc.)
So in these cases rentrer is usually about going or coming back in or into, going or coming home, going or coming in or into.

(See also Agreeing past participle with subject's gender and number with (+ être) verbs in Le Passé Composé)

avoir + rentré [quelque chose]

= to take/bring/get [something] back inside

J'ai rentré le linge une fois qu'il était sec.
I took the laundry back inside once it was dry.

Vous avez rentré les meubles de jardin à cause de la pluie.
You brought the garden furniture inside because of the rain.

When rentrer is followed immediately by a noun (as opposed to a preposition), it uses avoir as the auxiliary, like most verbs.  
 
It can be very tricky to get the distinction here if you think in terms of what rentrer means in English. English verbs are very often 'prepositional', meaning we say things like to go back into a house as well as re-enter a house which are equivalent in meaning but grammatically very different - English verbs very often have prepositions where they don't in French!

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Vous avez rentré les meubles de jardin à cause de la pluie.
You brought the garden furniture inside because of the rain.


J'ai rentré le linge une fois qu'il était sec.
I took the laundry back inside once it was dry.


Quand tu es rentré dans la pièce, elle n'était plus là.
When you came back into the room, she was gone.


Vous êtes rentrés dans la pharmacie à six heures.
You came into the pharmacy at six o'clock.


Je suis rentré de vacances tard hier soir.
I came back from holiday late yesterday evening.


Q&A Forum 6 questions, 14 answers

FriendC1Kwiziq community member

"''Mathilde a rentré la voiture avant qu'il ne pleuve. I keep getting this same test wrong. Couldn't the sentence also mean "Mathilda returned the car

"''Mathilde a rentré la voiture avant qu'il ne pleuve. I keep getting this same test wrong. Couldn't the sentence also mean "Mathilda returned the car before it rained." ?"
Asked 6 months ago
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

I think the point is that returning a car to someone else would be rendu (from rendre), so the only correct answer is "to take it back inside".

ToddA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I think you're translating a bit too literally in this case. In this sense, Mathilda brought the car back in before it rained seems to be what they're looking for, given the lesson this pertains to.

In your answer, returned could very well mean that she returned the car to someone she borrowed it from, with little context. 

I hope this helps! :)

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

If you wanted to say that Mathilde returned the car, you would use the verb retourner in French. Rentrer qc. means generally to take something inside.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I thought retourner meant more to "send back" which wouldn't be appropriate for a car. Did you disagree with using rendre?

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I guess rendre could work also. I do sense some difference to retourner but I am not sure how to verbalize it. The two verbs haven't acquired enough of a personality for me yet.

"''Mathilde a rentré la voiture avant qu'il ne pleuve. I keep getting this same test wrong. Couldn't the sentence also mean "Mathilda returned the car

"''Mathilde a rentré la voiture avant qu'il ne pleuve. I keep getting this same test wrong. Couldn't the sentence also mean "Mathilda returned the car before it rained." ?"

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ToddC1Kwiziq community member

Could someone explain why "pleuve" is in the present tense here rather than the past?

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Todd,

If you are referring to the sentence: "... avant qu'il ne pleuve."

'Pleuve' is a subjunctive present which has to follow 'avant que'.

Hope this helps!

ToddC1Kwiziq community member
Interesting. And that is the case even if the first part of the sentence is in the past? « Il est parti avant que... »
Todd asked:View original

Could someone explain why "pleuve" is in the present tense here rather than the past?

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AlexanderC1Kwiziq community member

"Mathilde a rentré la voiture avant qu'il ne pleuve"

Would someone be able to explain the need for the ne in that sentence?  Or link to the lesson that explains it?  I'm stumped.

(it was translated as "Mathilde put the car away before it rained.")

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Alexander,

the "ne" in the sentence carries no negative meaning. It is the so-called "ne-explétif", a serparate grammar topic, which is required by the "avant que". Kwiziq has several chapters on it, you can look for it in the library section.

-- Chris.

"Mathilde a rentré la voiture avant qu'il ne pleuve"

Would someone be able to explain the need for the ne in that sentence?  Or link to the lesson that explains it?  I'm stumped.

(it was translated as "Mathilde put the car away before it rained.")

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StewartC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

être + entré OR être + rentré

In the above example of 'to go/come in(to)'
'Vous êtes rentrés dans la pharmacie à six heures.' You came into the pharmacy at six o'clock. ... Could you also convey the same meaning with: -

'Vous êtes entrés dans la pharmacie à six heures.' 

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Stewart,

The expression is 'rentrer dans un magasin' for 'to go into a store'.

Hope this helps!

être + entré OR être + rentré

In the above example of 'to go/come in(to)'
'Vous êtes rentrés dans la pharmacie à six heures.' You came into the pharmacy at six o'clock. ... Could you also convey the same meaning with: -

'Vous êtes entrés dans la pharmacie à six heures.' 

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NatalyA1Kwiziq community member

With être, rentré gets a letter S in the plural sentence, but not with avoir. Is it a rule?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Yes, this is a rule. With être the participle is accorded in gender and number to the subject. 

Alex est rentré tard. 

Susanne est rentrée tard. 

Susanne et Marie sont rentrées tard. 

Susanne et Alex sont rentrés tard. 

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Nataly !

To complete Chris's answer, here's a link to our lesson related to the agreement of the past participle (here rentré) with auxiliary être.

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/agree-past-participle-with-subjects-gender-and-number-with-etre-verbs-in-le-passe-compose-conversational-past

Note that in some specific cases, you might also agree with the auxiliary avoir, as explained in that more advanced lesson :)

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/special-cases-when-the-past-participle-agrees-in-number-and-gender-when-used-with-avoir-in-le-passe-compose-conversational-past

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

NatalyA1Kwiziq community member
"Vous êtes rentrés" and "Vous avez rentré"

With être, rentré gets a letter S in the plural sentence, but not with avoir. Is it a rule?

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DoraidaC1Kwiziq community member

My answer was wrong, but when you give the meaning of "rentrer avec avoir"

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Doraida ! If you're reporting on a specific question, you need to use the "report" button next to it in your Correction Board, so I can see it and be able to help you :) Could you clarify your enquiry here, please? merci et à bientôt !
SamuelC1Kwiziq community member

How does this work with chez?  Might be worth a mention?  Je suis rentré chez moi ?

My answer was wrong, but when you give the meaning of "rentrer avec avoir"

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