Auxiliary – auxiliaire
Let's Define It!
What's an *auxiliary*?
In French grammar, an auxiliary (un auxiliaire in French) is a verb that you can combine to another (main) verb to add something (grammatical traits) to its meaning including the person, tense, aspect, voice, mode, etc.)
J'ai mangé une banane. --> I ate/have eaten a banana.
Elle est arrivée. --> She has arrived.
L'auxiliaire precedes the verb in French. It helps conjugate it.
In French, there are two basic auxiliaries: être and avoir.
With an auxiliary, you can make compound tenses such as the passé composé, past conditional, etc. You can also set the voice (passive) of a sentence.
Oftentimes, verbs other than avoir and être can can join other verbs in the infinitive form and give them additional temporal, aspectual or modal meanings. We call such verbs a semi-auxiliary or modal verb (un semi-auxiliaire) --> aller / faire / devoir / pouvoir, etc.
Je vais partir bientôt.. --> I'm going to leave soon
Tu dois t'assoir correctement. --> You must sit correctly
N.B. Semi-auxiliaries are conjugated while the main verbs stay in the infinitive.
Let's Pronounce It!
What does it sound like in French?
Let's Have an Example or Two!
Can a little reinforcement do the trick?
Find below a number of sentence that include auxiliary verbs and semi-auxiliaries.
- Chris est passé ici le mois dernier. / Chris stopped by last month.
- Nous voulons aller au cinéma. / We want to go to the movie theater.
- Elle va jouer au foot. / She is going to play soccer.
- Les enfants ont dormi chez leurs amis hier. /The children slept at their friends' yesterday.
- Je ne peux pas soulever cette pierre. /I can't lift this stone.