Les vacances

How to say where you've been, when you arrived etc


On est parti ?
Je suis arrivée ici il y a trois ans.
Vous êtes arrivés à quelle heure ?


One way of talking about what you've done is to use part of the verb avoir with a past participle ( See chambre d'hôte) : j'ai fait, on a visité, vous avez bien dormi ? etc This is called the perfect tense and it describes completed actions.


But there are a handful of verbs that form their perfect tense with parts of être instead of avoir. These include aller, venir, arriver, partir and other verbs to do with movement.

Ma femme est allée en Italie.
My wife has gone to Italy.
Nous sommes partis à 9 heures.
We left at 9 o'clock.
On est arrivé hier.
We arrived yesterday.

For this group of verbs the past participle changes like an adjective according to the gender or number of the subject. These different endings only really matter if you are writing French as they don't affect pronunciation.

Je suis arrivée hier.
I arrived yesterday (a woman speaking)
Vous êtes arrivés quand ?
When did you arrive? (said to a group of males)

This tense is called the passé composé and can have several English translations. Il est allé à Paris can mean: he went, he has gone or he has been to Paris.

Elles sont parties très tôt.
They left very early.
Je suis arrivée ici il y a une vingtaine d'années.
I arrived here about twenty years ago.
Ils sont venus nous voir.
They came to see us.

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