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FRENCH IRREGULAR VERBS

Here's a mnemonic rhyme covering the French verbs which are compounded with the auxiliary verb être (to be) rather than avoir (to have) in the perfect tense:

Aller, arriver, monter, venir,
Entrer, rester, demeurer, partir,
Descendre, tomber, retourner, sortir,
Naître, décéder, devenir, mourir.

In English these irregular verbs translate as "I have gone, I have arrived" etc., but the direct translation is "I am gone, I am arrived" etc. Normally all verbs in French are used with avoir except those which indicate an action followed by a corresponding state. This rule governs all reflexive verbs (eg. se laver, to wash, I wash myself) but some other verbs as well - hence the list.

The test for verb-inclusion is always to ask oneself in English the question "if I have arrived, am I arrived?" The answer is yes, so ètre applies with arriver (ie. "je suis arrivé"). But in asking "if I eat, am I eaten?", the answer is no and therefore avoir applies with manger (ie. "j'ai mangé") as with most verbs.

There is an alternative mnemonic acronym that recalls most of these verbs (although it excludes demeurer [to live, dwell] and décéder [to die, decease] from earlier):

DR. (&) MRS. VANDERTRAMPP

D - devenir (to become)
R - revenir (to come back)
M - mourir (to die)
R - retourner (to return)
S - sortir (to go out)
V - venir (to come)
A - aller (to go)
N - naître (to be born)
D - descendre (to descend, bring down)
E - entrer (to enter)
R - rentrer (to bring in, take in)
T - tomber (to fall)
R - rester (to remain)
A - arriver (to arrive, happen)
M - monter (to mount, get [into])
P - partir (to set out)
P - passer (to pass, spend [time])

 

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