When to use the Passé Composé: the Essential Guide in 2020

when to use the passé composé

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In this French grammar lesson we will learn about when to use the passé composé.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • when to use the passé composé
  • how the passé composé is used in sentences
  • how you can immediately test your knowledge on when to use the passé composé
  • how when to use the passé composé Anki files can be downloaded

Please refer to the French A2 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar if you are curious about how when to use the passé composé fits in French A2 grammar.

Please also read how to form the passé composé to find out how you can form it.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about when to use the passé composé

Table of Contents

When to use the Passé Composé

There are 4 cases when you would use the passé composé

  1. Completed actions
  2. Repeated actions
  3. Series of actions
  4. Conditions in likely situations

We will handle all of them, and give examples for all of them.

Completed actions

In this case you are describing a situation that started in the past and was completed in the past.

J’ai bu une tasse de café hier.

I drank a cup of coffee yesterday.

Yesterday you started drinking that cup of coffee and then you finished it.

The situation began in the past and it also finished in the past.

In other words, we are describing a completed action.

Repeated actions

In this case you are describing a repetition of actions in the past.

J’y ai bu une tasse de café 7 fois.

I drank a cup of cofee there 7 times.

There is a place where they serve amazing coffee and you love to go there.

In fact, in the past, you have been there 7 times.

We are describing repeated actions in the past.

Series of actions

In this case you are describing a series of action in the past, generally one is following the other.

J’ai bu une tasse de café et je suis sorti du restaurant.

I drank a cup of cofee and then I exited the restaurant.

In the past you went to a restaurant, drank a cup of coffee there, and then you left the restaurant.

These actions happend after each other.

Thus, we are describing a series of actions in the past.

Conditions in likely situations

In this case you are describing a situation that could likely occur.

Si vous avez gagné, vous pouvez recevoir un prix.

If you won, you can receive a prize.

It is very likely that someone that wins something can receive a prize afterwards.

So, we are describing a condition in a likely situation.

Example Sentences with the Passé Composé

The final section of this lesson on when to use the passé composé is about seeing the passé composé in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding of when to use the passé composé through examples.

J’ai bu une tasse de café hier.

I drank a cup of coffee yesterday.

J’y ai bu une tasse de café 7 fois.

I drank a cup of cofee there 7 times.

J’ai bu une tasse de café et je suis sorti du restaurant.

I drank a cup of cofee and then I exited the restaurant.

Si vous avez gagné, vous pouvez recevoir un prix.

If you won, you can receive a prize.

J’ai regardé Harry Potter hier.

I watched Harry Potter yesterday.

Je me suis promené ce matin.

I took a walk this morning.

Test Your Knowledge on how to form the Passé Composé

It’s not enough just to read the lesson on this subject.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

It is also for this reason that it is recommended to download the Anki Decks and do them.

At the end of every lesson you can do a small test.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the test as many times as you want. There’s no limit to it!

Anki File for when to use the Passé Composé

It is important to do the Anki excercises for this lesson, so that you can remember what you just studied.

By downloading the Anki File for French A2 you can practice every French A2 lesson that is on Language Atlas.

At this moment the Anki File for this lesson doesn’t exist yet. However, in due time this will be available on Language Atlas.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or don’t know how to use Anki or merge Anki files please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

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