Past Participles

The past participle serves to form compound verb tenses, but it may also serve as an adjective. If the past participle is used as an epithet or attribute, it follows the noun it describes.

Forming the Past Participle

The past participle of regular verbs is formed as follows:

Some verbs that are irregular in the present form have regular past participles:

 Irregular past participles may be placed in the following groups:

Those ending in ‐i:

  • rire (to laugh) → ri
  • suffire (to suffice) → suffi
  • suivre (to follow) → suivi

Those ending in ‐is:

  • acquérir (to acquire) → acquis
  • asseoir (to seat) → assis
  • conquérir (to conquer) → conquis
  • mettre (to put) → mis
  • prendre (to take) → pris

Those ending in ‐it:

  • conduire (to drive) → conduit
  • construire (to construct) → construit
  • cuire (to cook) → cuit
  • détruire (to destroy) → détruit
  • dire (to say, to tell) → dit
  • écrire (to write) → écrit
  • produire (to produce) → produit
  • traduire (to translate) → traduit

Those ending in ‐u:

  • apercevoir (to notice) → aperçu
  • avoir (to have) → eu
  • boire (to drink) → bu
  • connaître (to know) → connu
  • courir (to run) → couru
  • croire (to believe) → cru
  • devoir (to have to) →
  • lire (to read) → lu
  • paraître (to appear) → paru
  • plaire (to please) → plu
  • pouvoir (to be able to) → pu
  • recevoir (to receive) → reçu
  • savoir (to know) → su
  • se taire (to be quiet) → tu
  • tenir (to hold) → tenu
  • valoir (to be worth) → valu
  • venir (to come) → venu
  • vivre (to live) → vécu
  • vouloir (to want) → voulu

Those ending in ‐ert:

  • ouvrir (to open) → ouvert
  • offrir (to offer) → offert
  • souffrir (to suffer) → souffrir

Those ending in ‐int:

  • atteindre (to attain) → atteint
  • craindre (to fear) → craint
  • éteindre (to extinguish) → éteint
  • joindre (to join) → joint
  • peindre (to paint) → peint
  • plaindre (to pity) → plaint

Those totally irregular:

  • être (to be) → été
  • faire (to make, to do) → fait
  • mourir (to die) → mort
  • naître (to be born) →

Any related infinitive forms its past participle according to the list above, for example:

The past participle is used:

With a preceding helping (auxiliary) verb ( avoir or être) to form compound tenses:

  • J'ai fait de mon mieux. (I did my best.)
  • Je suis allée en ville. (I went downtown.)
  • Il avait fini son travail. (He had finished his work.)
  • Il était rentré tard. (He had arrived home late.)
  • Nous aurions gagné. (We would have won.)
  • Nous serions sortis. (We would have gone out.)
  • Elle aura attendu longtemps. (She will have waited a long time.)
  • Elle sera partie avant lui. (She will have left before him.)

As an adjective, which, therefore, must agree in number and gender with the noun or pronoun it modifies:

  • Elle est épuisée. (She is exhausted.)
  • Ils sont des hommes distingués. (They are distinguished men.)

In the passé composé, past participles that use avoir as their helping verb agree in number and gender with a preceding direct object noun or pronoun:

  • Voici la lettre qu'elle a écrite. (Here is the letter that she wrote.)
  • Les filles? Je les ai vues lundi. (The girls? I saw them on Monday.)