What is the value of Passé Composé in French?

French conjugation and tenses might be tricky. But once you know how to conjugate a tense the good thing is you can use it not only to express the tense itself but for a lot of ideas. That is so useful to know and I will tell you here the different values of Passé composé tense in French. Let’s first review how to conjugate the Passé composé in French.


Passé composé tense in French is made from the verb stem which we add endings:

Le Passé Composé (present perfect) is a compound tense so it is made with two verbs:

  • an auxiliary (être, avoir)
  • the participle (made from the verb stem)
    • for 1st group verbs (-ER): stem + é (eg. parler > parlé)
    • for 2nd group verbs (-IR): stem + i (eg. finir > fini)
    • for 3rd group verbs, the conjugation is variable

Values of Passé Composé in French

Passé composé is used to:

  • show the result of an action that is finished in the present tense (j’ai mangé, je n’ai plus faim)
  • show the anteriority of an action compared to another one in the present (je mange le gâteau que j’ai préparé)
  • stand for the future tense (accomplished future) (attendez, j’ai fini dans une minute)
  • make an hypothesis (si vous avez bu pendant le dîner, demandez à quel qu’un de vous accompagner)

I hope this will help you to use the Passé composé tense in different situations!

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