Introduction to Past Tenses The passé composé (compound past tense) is used to refer to an action or event that began and was completed at a particular moment of time in the past. Two elements are required to form the passé composé: a helping verb (either avoir or être ) and a past participle (usually the -ed form of an English verb). The passé simple is a literary past tense, most often used in writing, and also refers to an action or event that was completed in the past. The passé anterieur, which is very limited in use, is the compound form of the
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