In this article, you will:

  • Discover or rediscover the past tense with the auxiliary "avoir" (have)
  • Understand its construction
  • Learn its usage
  • Master the past tense with "avoir"

This article will help you answer the following questions:

  • What is the past tense passé composé with "avoir"?
  • How to construct the passé composé tense with "avoir"?
  • In what situations to use the passé composé tense with "avoir"?


 Construction of the Past Tense with "avoir" : 

The past tense is formed with the verb "avoir" in the present indicative and with a past participle

 Construction of the Past Tense with "avoir"


 Usage of the Past Tense : 

The past tense is used for:

  • to talk about a specific action in the past or an important action. This action is dated, it is precisely located in time.

For example: Avant-hier, j’ai mangé au restaurant (The day before yesterday, I ate at a restaurant).


  • to talk about a punctual action in the past. It does not happen every day, it is not a habit, it is occasional.

For example: Elle est née le 13 Juillet 1980 (She was born on July 13, 1980).


  • to talk about an action with a limited duration in the past. There is a date that specifies the limited duration of this past action.

For example: J’ai travaillé dans cette entreprise de 2017 à 2019 (I worked in this company from 2017 to 2019).


  • to talk about successive and punctual actions in the past. Here we have several punctual and successive actions, one after the other in the past.

For example: J’ai quitté mon travail, je suis partie en Argentine et j’ai acheté une maison là-bas (I left my job, I went to Argentina and I bought a house there).


  • To express a sudden action: an important action that will change a situation or cause consequences

For example: Je me promenais quand il a commencé à pleuvoir (I was walking when it started to rain).