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are neuter verbs; because they can only be attended by an indirect object, that is to say, a substantive governed by a preposition. Ex.
Jouir d'une grande réputation;
to enjoy a great reputation. to attain our end.
Some of the neuter verbs are conjugated in their compound tenses with the auxiliary verb avoir, to have; others with the verb étre, to be.
The general rule to know what neuter verbs take the auxiliary avoir, and which the verb étre, is to pay attention to the participle past of the neuter verb.
If this participle be declined, that is, if it can be applied as an adjective to a person or a thing, it must be joined with the verb étre. Ex.
Arriver, to arrive;
take the auxiliary verb étre;
Un homme arrivé;
Une femme morte;
Tomber, to fall ; Venir, to come, &c. because we can say,
a man arrived.
a woman dead.
If, on the contrary, the participle be undeclined, and cannot be used to qualify animated beings, the compound tenses of that verb must be conjugated with the verb avoir. For instance, dormir, to sleep, and voyager, to travel, take the auxiliary verb avoir, because we cannot say,
Un homme dormi,
a man slept.
From what precedes it will be understood, that a neuter verb, used to express a fact, an action, takes avoir; whereas the verb étre is used, when we speak of the state in which a person or a thing is.
The verb courir is in this last class, when it signifies the rapid motion of the body, moving quickly in a certain direction; as we cannot, in this sense, say,
nor je suis couru, j'étais couru, &c. ; but, j'ai couru, j'avais couru, &c.
When we say in French, un homme couru, une femme courue, we mean a man or a woman much sought after, a person or thing we are very eager to see.
Ce prédicateur est fort couru;
that is, people are very eager to hear that preacher.
In the above general rule are not included some neuter verbs, which sometimes take the auxiliary avoir, and sometimes the auxiliary étre; these are,
Monter, to go or come up.
Monter and descendre often which case they are considered gated with the auxiliary avoir.
J'ai monté l'escalier;
Nous avons descendu la colline ;
Demeurer, to live, to remain.
govern a direct object; in
I have ascended the stairs. we have come down the hill.
When the above verbs are employed without regimen, their compounds are conjugated with étre. Ex.
Il est monté ;
he is gone up.
Elle est déjà descendue; she is gone down already.
Sortir is conjugated with the verb étre, when it signifies to quit, to leave the place wherein one was dwelling, or living; but it is conjugated with the verb avoir, when we wish to convey that we have been from home, and that we are come back again. Ex.
Il est sorti de prison;
J'ai sorti ce matin à dix heures;
he is out of prison.
I went out this morning at ten o'clock.
Demeurer and rester take the auxiliary avoir, when we mean that we were, but are no longer, in a place. Ex.
On the contrary, they take the auxiliary étre, while the person or persons are still in a place. Ex.
Il est demeuré à Londres pour y
he has remained in London to solicit a situation.
we have staid at York to conclude our affairs.
Périr takes the auxiliary avoir, when we intend to express the fact that a person has perished, or died; and it takes étre, when it is used in the sense of to be destroyed. Ex.
Trois hommes ont péri par cette tempête;
Tous sont péris, il n'en reste pas un ;
three men have perished by
all are destroyed, there is not one left.
Passer sometimes governs an indirect object, or is immediately followed by the preposition par, or some other, attended by a noun or pronoun, in which case its compounds are conjugated with the auxiliary verb avoir, whether it be used in its proper signification, or in a figurative
Nous avons passé devant l'église; we went by the church. La couronne de Naples a passé the crown of Naples has passed dans la maison de Bourbon; to the house of Bourbon.
In cases expressing state, passer takes the auxiliary étre. Ex.
Le roi est passé, vous ne sauriez
Vos chagrins sont passés ;
the king is gone by; you can
not see him.
your sorrows are over.
Passer, in several cases, is used actively, and governs an absolute, or accusative case. Ex.
Les ennemis ont passé la rivière;
the enemies have crossed the river.
Echapper, to escape, takes avoir or étre, according as it expresses action or state.
Nous avons échappé à l'orage qui
we have escaped the storm
The following neuter verbs are conjugated with étre :aller, arriver, convenir (to agree), devenir, intervenir, mourir, naltre, partir, parvenir, provenir, résulter, retourner (to come back), tomber, venir.
The following are conjugated with avoir :-comparaitre, convenir (to suit), courir, échouer, paraître, subvenir.
All others take the one or the other auxiliary according to the sense in which they are used. The principal are, accoucher, accourir, accroître, apparaître, cesser, changer, commencer, demeurer, descendre, diminuer, disparaître, échapper, embellir, entrer, expirer, monter, passer, périr, rester, sonner, vieillir,
We call reflected, or reflective, a verb whose subject and object are the same person or thing, so that the subject which acts, acts upon itself, and is at the same time the agent and the object of the action, that is, nominative and accusative. Ex.
Je me me connais,
Il se blesse,
Nous nous chauffons,
I know myself;
thou praisest thyself;
we warm ourselves;
are reflective verbs, because it is I who know, and who am known; thou who praisest and who art praised, &c.
Reflective verbs are, therefore, conjugated with a second pronoun; me, myself, te, thyself, se, himself, herself, nous,
ourselves, vous, yourself, ses, themselves. This second pronoun is placed before the verb, except in the first person plural, and second person singular and plural of the imperative-affirmative. (See page 54, rule 4.)
Ne nous blessons pas,
let us warm ourselves;
let us not hurt ourselves;
There are a great many verbs which are used reflectively in French, but are not so in English; such as se souvenir, to remember, se plaindre, to complain. Ex.
Je me souviens;
Nous nous plaignons;
A list of the principal is given in the SUPPLEMENT at the end, which see.
The reflectives direct are active verbs, of which the subject or nominative is, at the same time, the object or accusative.
Je me chauffe;
Elle se blesse;
I warm myself.
Chauffer and blesser are active verbs (see page 99), of which me, se, are the direct objects or accusatives.
The reflectives indirect are active verbs, of which the subject or nominative is, at the same time, the indirect case or dative. Ex.
Il se donne un habit;
Vous vous donnez des louanges;
he gives himself a coat.
Donner and casser are active verbs, of which habit, louanges, bras, are the objects or accusatives, and se, nous, se, the datives or indirect objects.
* See SUPPLEMENT: of possessive pronouns, with regard to parts of the body.