Passé Composé – Vandertramp

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How Do I Conjugate the Irregular Vandertramp Verbs in Passé Composé?

Where could I have gone that French wouldn’t be so hard? – Some student in grade 8, somewhere

So many verb tenses and so little time…

Today we’re going to talk about how to conjugate irregular verbs in passé composé in French. If you’re looking for the present tense, or the future tense, follow the links provided.

The past tense refers to what happened in the past. Especially when the time is very specific in the past. It is an absolute necessity to understand how to conjugate this tense, as we use it all the time.

Why are the verbs on this list irregular?

They are irregular because they do not follow the pattern of the usual ER/IR/RE verbs in passé composé, unfortunately (though if you do want a lesson on the regular verbs in passé composé, click here).

In order to learn how to conjugate these verbs, we have to first learn a little about subjects:

Here are the common subjects in French (for more information, click here):

Je (I)

Tu (You)

Il (He)

Elle (She)

On (We)

Nous (We)

Vous (You/You all)

Ils (They)

Elles (They)

Note: The subject is the thing that does the action in the sentence.

In order to conjugate the irregular vandertramp verbs in passé composé, we must first conjugate être, in present tense, one of the 8 most common verbs in French. (For a lesson on that, click here).

Finally, here are the steps to conjugating these irregular verbs in passé composé:

  1. Conjugate être in present tense
  2. Change the verbs on the list into their past tense form 
  3. Agree the verb with the subject

Simple as that.

Step 1 – Conjugate Être in Present Tense

Je suis

Tu es

Il est

Elle est

On est

Nous sommes

Vous êtes

Ils sont

Elles sont

Step 2 – The Vandertramp List

It is called Vandertramp because of the mnemonic used to remember all of the irregular verbs that are conjugated with être instead of avoir in present tense. Here it is (including all of the past tense form of the verbs):

D – Devenir (Devenu)

R – Revenir (Revenu)

M – Monter (Monté)

R – Rentrer (Rentré)

S – Sortir (Sorti)

V – Venir (Venu)

A – Aller (Allé)

N – Naître (Né)

D – Descendre (Descendu)

E – Entrer (Entré)

R – Retourner (Retourné)

T – Tomber (Tombé)

R – Rester (Resté)

A – Arriver (Arrivé)

M – Mourir (Mort)

P – Partir (Parti)

Step 3 – Agreement

When I say you need to agree the verb with the subject, I mean that there are extra endings added, depending on what the subject is. These are added after the past tense form of the verb.

Agreements for all the subjects:

Je – nothing or “e” (if the subject is feminine, add an extra e)

Tu – nothing or “e” (if the subject is feminine, add an extra e)

Il – nothing

Elle – add an extra “e”

On – nothing

Nous – “s”, or if the group is all women, add an “es”

Vous – nothing or “e” (if you are only referring to one person with “vous”, add an extra “e” if that person is a girl). “S” or “es” if plural (“es” if it is a group of all girls)

Ils – “s”

Elles – “es”

Examples of vandertramp verbs conjugated in passé composé:

  1. Conjugate naître for the subject “elles” in passé composé:

Elles sont parties

  1. Conjugate descendre for the subject nous in passé composé

Nous sommes descendu(e)s (“e” depends on if the group is all girls or not, if it is, “e” is added)

  1. Conjugate tomber for the subject “on” in passé composé

On est tombé

There you have it, how passé composé works for irregular Vandertramp verbs in French!

Extra help!

Need more practice? Here are some worksheets you can try out as extra practice.

Interested in getting all the French grammar modules? Look here.

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