tomber (être vs avoir)

VC1Kwiziq community member

tomber (être vs avoir)

Hi, seems like the verb tomber most definitely belongs to the set of verbs which can take either auxiliary in the passé composé, depending on their transitive/intransitive usage.

As an example of such a verb, see your very helpful page here:

Monter can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé depending on its meaning in French


Could you please confirm that tomber indeed deserves such a page, and in general remark on whether about 20 other verbs deserve one also (albeit not very commonly used ones?)


Thank you!

Asked 11 months ago
MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Chris, your last 2 examples would be said ‘ J’ai laissé tomber qqc … ‘ or ‘ il a laissé tomber qqc‘ ( laisser tomber qqc ) not ‘J’ai or il a tombé .. qqc ‘

 https://www.wordreference.com/fren/laisser%20tomber

There are limited expressions, mostly informal, some even lower register than ‘informal’ (beware),  in which tomber takes a direct object and is conjugated with avoir in compound tenses. 

I don’t think these limited exceptions warrant a separate lesson, although perhaps a brief note that they exist may be reasonable. 

 https://www.lawlessfrench.com/expressions/tomber-expressions/ https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/tomber/78343

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The verb tomber uses the auxiliary verb être in the passé composé when it is used intransitively, indicating a change of state or movement. However, when tomber is used transitively with a direct object, it uses avoir. As a general rule: every transitive verb, i.e., one that has a direct object, uses avoir as an auxiliary.

 Here are examples of both cases:

Intransitive (with "être" as auxiliary):

Elle est tombée de vélo. -- She fell off the bike.

Les feuilles sont tombées des arbres. (The leaves fell from the trees.

Transitive (with "avoir" as auxiliary and "laisser tomber" as the more idiomatic usage of "to drop"):

J'ai laissé tomber la boîte par terre. -- I dropped the box on the ground. (la boite is COD)
Il a laissé tomber son stylo. -- He dropped his pen. (son stylo is COD)

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

@Maarten: Yes, you're right. I edited my answer slightly.

tomber (être vs avoir)

Hi, seems like the verb tomber most definitely belongs to the set of verbs which can take either auxiliary in the passé composé, depending on their transitive/intransitive usage.

As an example of such a verb, see your very helpful page here:

Monter can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé depending on its meaning in French


Could you please confirm that tomber indeed deserves such a page, and in general remark on whether about 20 other verbs deserve one also (albeit not very commonly used ones?)


Thank you!

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