Intermediate French For Dummies
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In French, the passé compose is a compound verb tense, meaning it has two parts: an auxiliary verb and a past participle. French has two auxiliary verbs, avoir or être, and most main verbs use avoir. Memorize the following short list of verbs, which refer to coming and going (both literally and figuratively) that use être:

  • aller (to go)

  • arriver (to arrive)

  • descendre (to descend )

  • entrer (to enter )

  • monter (to climb)

  • mourir (to die)

  • naître (to be born)

  • partir (to leave)

  • passer (to pass [by, in front of, behind] )

  • rester (to stay )

  • retourner (to return)

  • sortir (to go out )

  • tomber (to fall )

  • venir (to come)

In addition, pronominal verbs use être: je me suis levé (I got up.)

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Laura K. Lawless is a French fanatic. From the day she learned her first French words (the numbers 1–10 at age 10), she has been obsessed with the language of love. Her first trip to France, at 15, further convinced her that French would always be an essential part of her life. Laura has a BA in International Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and she has done graduate work in French and Spanish translation, interpretation, linguistics, and literature. She also studied French at Institut de formation internationale in Mont-St-Aignan, France, and at the Alliance française in Toulouse, France.
In 1999, after a year of teaching French and Spanish to adults, Laura became the French Language Guide at (, where she continues to create lessons, quizzes, listening exercises, and games for French students and teachers around the world. Her fascination with all things French guarantees that she will never run out of ideas for her French site or books (this is her fourth). Laura has lived in France, Morocco, and Costa Rica, and after scheming and dreaming for more than half her life, she and her husband will be moving to France in 2008.

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