In French, is there a rule as to why some past tense verbs use "etre" vs "avoir"?
Is there any specific rule as to why some use etre vs avoir? Or is that just how the language is and I just gotta memorize the past tense verbs. Like, no reason why it's etre or avoir?
- TangiLv 78 months agoBest Answer
ALL pronominal verbs use "être" as an auxiliary. There is no pronominal verb that uses "avoir". That's the only actual rule that is always true. A pronominal verb is a verb preceded by a reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous, se) that matches the subject (je me, tu te, il/elle se, nous nous, vous vous, ils/elles se), like "s'endormir" or "se laver".
A few non pronominal verbs (usually describing a movement) also use "être" but most use "avoir".
That's not a rule, just a tendency. You will have to learn which ones.
Aller, apparaitre, arriver, devenir, entrer, mourir, naitre, partir, rester, tomber, monter, descendre, retourner, sortir, passer and venir are very common so you will quickly remember that they use "être".
The prefix "re" just means "again" so verbs like "revenir", retomber" etc exist and are conjugated the same way than the verbs they derive from.
Décéder, parvenir, provenir and survenir are a little less common. But the last four are derived from "venir" so that's a clue.
Intervenir is as common as the ones right above, but somepeople use "avoir" when it should actually be "être". Avoid making this mistake bu be prepared to hear it.
Demeurer is less common but is conjugated with "avoir" or "être" depending on the way it's used. For a general meaning of "to stay" (rarely used and usually followed by an adjective), it's "être" but for the meaning "to reside", it's "avoir".
Échoir is rare and you will mostly see it in legal documents. People often assume it uses "avoir".
And finally, there are a few verbs that are not used anymore, like débeller. Don't bother learning them.
- RightmanLv 67 months ago
Verbs of personal motion, arrive leave go out enter, and reflexive verbs. That's it.
- John PLv 78 months ago
No "rule" which could give you a logical list of the fairly few verbs which take "etre". You will just have to learn them by rote.
It is the same with irregular verbs - in English and in French, etc!
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- ZirpLv 78 months ago
As far as I know, you have to memorise which is whichSource(s): Had French in "grammar school"