Special Verbs that Use Être and Avoir

Generally, the verbs descendre, monter, passer, rentrer, retourner, and sortir use être as their helping verb. They may, however, take avoir as their helping verb when they are used with a direct object. The meaning of these verbs differs according to the helping verb that is used:

descendre: with être, got off, went down; with avoir, took down

  • Tu es descendu(e) du train. (You got off the train.)
  • J'ai descendu l'escalier. (I went downstairs.)
  • Il a descendu sa valise. (He took down his suitcase.)

monter: with être, went down; with avoir, took up

  • Elles sont montées. (They went upstairs.)
  • Nous avons monté nos affaires. (We took [brought] up our things.)

passer: with être, passed by; with avoir, spent

  • Je suis passé(e) par la pâtisserie. (I passed by the pastry shop.)
  • Il a passé un mois au Canada. (He spent a month in Canada.)

rentrer: with être, came in; with avoir, brought in

  • Vous êtes rentré(e)(s) tôt. (You came home early.)
  • Elle a rentré le chat. (She brought in the cat.)

retourner: with être, returned; with avoir, turned over

  • Il est retourné à Paris. (He returned to Paris.)
  • Ils ont retourné la chaise. (They turned over the table.)

sortir: with être, went out; with avoir, took out

  • Elles sont sorties. (They went out.)
  • Il a sorti son portefeuille. (He took out his wallet.)