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Avoir vs Être
Learn which helping verb you need, once and for all.
Bonjour à tout le monde et à toute la planète !
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Lawless French à fond - let’s dive right in. One of the most common French grammar questions is
When do I need avoir as the auxiliary verb and when do I need être?
Today in Lawless French à fond, we’re taking an in-depth look at auxiliary verbs.
French has two auxiliary verbs (aka helping verbs): avoir and être. That means one or the other of these is the opening salvo in every compound verb conjugation, such as the passé composé and the futur antérieur.
The rules for when to use avoir and when you need être for these verb forms can seem a little complicated, but with study and practice (and maybe a mnemonic assist) you’ll eventually get to the point where you know which one to use instinctively. Start by studying these lessons, then cement your knowledge with quizzes and practice exercises.
Introduction to French auxiliary verbs, including some mnemonic devices to help you remember which verbs need which.
This is the most common verb form that requires an auxiliary verb - in this case, conjugated in the present tense.
When you conjugate the auxiliary into another tense, you create a different compound verb form. But the auxiliary itself remains faithful: avoir verbs take avoir as their auxiliary verb in all compound conjugations, while être verbs always need être.
However (of course) there’s an exception, or rather eight exceptions: verbs that can take either auxiliary verb - with a change in meaning.
Stroll around Paris while paying attention to the auxiliary verbs used in this audio article.
Get more practice with helping verbs while hearing about the Martin family’s busy last week.
Even more passé composé practice - this time as part of a song.
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See if you’ve mastered passé composé conjugations, including the choice of helping verb, with this fill-in-the-blanks quiz.
Test yourself on how a helping verb can change the main verb’s meaning in this multiple-choice quiz.
More practice with variable auxiliary verbs in the form of a fill-in-the-blanks exercise.
Challenge your listening comprehension with an A1-level dictation exercise about a trip to the circus.
Practice your French translation skills with this A2-level writing exercise.
Too easy? Try a B2-level exercise.
These are three of the six CEFR language proficiency levels.
Juste pour rigoler
Comic courtesy of Malachi Ray Rempen ItchyFeetComic.com
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