Monter can be used with avoir or être in Le Passé Composé... and changes meaning

Most verbs use either avoir or être as the auxiliary verb in Passé composé (or other compound tense)but monter uses both, depending on its grammatical usage* and what it means in the sentence.
 
*Grammaphile's Corner : the technical grammatical distinction between these cases is actually whether the verb is used in a transitive or intransitive manner. 
- The transitive version (the version with a direct object) uses avoir.
- The intransitive version (lacking a direct object), uses être.
 

être + monté [dans, sur, en, etc.]

= to go inside [something] 
= to get on [something] 
= to embark

On est montés dans la voiture après vous.
We went inside the car after you.

Tu es monté sur le toit.
You got on the roof.

Nous sommes montés dans l'avion à 6 heures du matin.
We got on the plane at 6 am.

Nous sommes tous montés en voiture.
We all got in the car.

Note that in each case where être is the auxilliary, the verb monter is followed by a preposition (en, sur, dans, à, ...).   
In these cases, monter is usually about getting inside [something], or going on top of [something].

(See also Agreeing past participle with subject's gender and number with (+ être) verbs in Le Passé Composé)

avoir + monté [quelque chose]

= to go up [something] 
= to take [something] up
= to put [something] together
= to mount [something]

Tu as monté les escaliers en silence.
You went up the stairs silently.

Les explorateurs ont monté la colline.
The explorers went up the hill.

As-tu monté les valises?
Did you take the luggage upstairs?

J'ai monté mon cheval.
I mounted my horse.

 

When monter is followed immediately by a noun (as opposed to a preposition), it uses avoir as the auxiliary, like most verbs.
 
It can be very tricky to get the distinction here if you think in terms of what monter means in English. English verbs are very often 'prepositional', meaning we say things like to climb on a horse as well as mount a horse which are equivalent in meaning but grammatically very different - our verbs very often have prepositions where they don't in French!

J'ai monté mon cheval.
I mounted my horse.

BUT

Je suis monté à cheval.
I rode on horseback.


Here is the list of all "two-auxiliaryverbs in compound tenses:
 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nous avons monté le lit du bébé nous-mêmes.
We put together the baby's bed ourselves.


Nous sommes tous montés en voiture.
We all got in the car.


J'ai monté mon cheval.
I mounted my horse.


Tu es monté sur le toit.
You got on the roof.


Les explorateurs ont monté la colline.
The explorers went up the hill.


Je suis monté à cheval.
I rode on horseback.


Tu as monté les escaliers en silence.
You went up the stairs silently.


Nous sommes montés dans l'avion à 6 heures du matin.
We got on the plane at 6 am.


As-tu monté les valises?
Did you take the luggage upstairs?


On est montés dans la voiture après vous.
We went inside the car after you.


Q&A Forum 16 questions, 29 answers

LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Up in the attic

Seems like going up using avoir could work here, too. It’s confusing sans greater context. No question, just a comment that some questions are too vague. 

Asked 1 month ago

Up in the attic

Seems like going up using avoir could work here, too. It’s confusing sans greater context. No question, just a comment that some questions are too vague. 

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LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Avoir or être

Going up to the attic takes être? I’m confused since the instructions seem clear that going up to something takes avoir. Help please? 

Asked 2 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Going up to something uses the verb monter in an intransitive manner and therefore requires être as auxiliary verb. When you say "going up the stairs" (note: not "to the stairs") "the stairs" is a direct object and therefore monter is used transitively and needs avoir. When used with être, you will always have a preposition along with it. Not so with avoir:

Je suis monté dans la voiture. -- I got into the car.
Je suis monté sur le toit. -- I got up on the roof.
J'ai monté les escaliers. -- I climbed the stairs. (not to the stairs, in the stairs or on the stairs).
J'ai monté ta valise. -- I took your suitcase up.

Avoir or être

Going up to the attic takes être? I’m confused since the instructions seem clear that going up to something takes avoir. Help please? 

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DraganaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Je suis monté à cheval.

Why is it just à and not à + le = au

Je suis monté au cheval.

Asked 8 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Dragana,

Monter à cheval ‘ is, to ride a horse.

‘Monter en voiture’ is, 'to get into a car’. 

I suppose the emphasis is more on the mode of transport than the action.

Hope this helps!

DraganaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Ok. so the expression "Monter à cheval" - is a fixed expression for mode of transport. BUT 

I can say "J'ai approché au cheval - I approached the horse"?

Is that right?

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Dragana,

In the case of getting near the horse you would say-

‘Je me suis approchée du cheval’ because the verb is

‘s’approcher de’ 

and 

de + le= du

Not easy I know....

LeahA0Kwiziq community member

I've seen this phrase used idiomatically (in a French newspaper) where "monté à cheval" was used to mean "get into a car" -- I knew what it meant literally and guessed the slang interpretation as based on analogy or synonym, without realizing the shade of difference that was being called upon.

Je suis monté à cheval.

Why is it just à and not à + le = au

Je suis monté au cheval.

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PattyC1Kwiziq community member

I am struggling with this too

I always learnt that: " I went up the ladder was" took the verb "être"

Je suis allée jusqu'a l'echelle

Why is it in your example with "avoir". "I went up the stairs"

"J'ai monté les escaliers"??

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Patty,

Indeed with ‘échelle’ you will use ‘être’ as in -

Je suis monté à l’échelle/ Je suis monté sur une échelle 

But in the case on ‘monter les escaliers’ , ‘les escaliers’ is the direct object of ‘monter’ which makes the verb transitive requiring it to take ‘avoir’.

Very confusing I know....

I am struggling with this too

I always learnt that: " I went up the ladder was" took the verb "être"

Je suis allée jusqu'a l'echelle

Why is it in your example with "avoir". "I went up the stairs"

"J'ai monté les escaliers"??

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StevenC1Kwiziq community member

Déscendre and monter..

 I just can’t get to grips with these two in the passé composé with Avoir and être… I struggle to get the difference between the examples in the lesson and then struggle even more in the quizzes! Is there a trick to understanding the difference between the two versions? Thank you 
Asked 1 year ago
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Steven

In general terms monter/descendre is transitive (takes a direct object) and is thus conjugated with aller in the compound tenses when the past participle is is followed by a determiner (+noun) or where the direct object or object pronoun precedes the participle. Determiners are words such as definite and indefinite articles, demonstrative pronouns, possesive pronouns , numbers etc. which precede nouns.

J'ai monté l'escalier - I went up the stairs

Il a démonté sa souris d'ordinateur - he took his computer mouse to pieces

Elle a descendu dix livres de la étagère - she took down10 books from the shelf

Ils les ont descendues - They brought them down (eg suitcases)

La montagne que j'ai montée est belle

Monter/descentre  is intransitive (takes an indirect object) and is thus conjugated with être in the compound tenses when the past participle is is followed by a preposition or by nothing, or where the indirect object pronoun precedes the participle.

Le prix de pain est monté - The price of bread has increased

Elle est montée dans sa chambre - She went up to bedroom

Ils y sont descendus - They went down there (eg ravine)Elles en sont descendues - They disembarked (eg from a taxi).Bottom line:followed by a determiner + noun or preceded by a direct object: conjugate with avoirfollowed by a preposition or preceded by an indirect object: conjugate with être
I hope this has helped and not confused you further!
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Sorry about the formatting at the end.
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your excellent answer. The only thing I would like to correct is the example in your intransitive section of the price of bread going up -

It would be:

Le prix du pain a monté. = The price of bread has risen.

It is an odd one but it is the same when you talk about the level of a river rising:

La Garonne a encore monté cette nuit. =The Garonne river's level rose again last night.

Les prix ont monté considérablement cette année. = Prices have risen sharply this year.

Hope this helps!

Déscendre and monter..

 I just can’t get to grips with these two in the passé composé with Avoir and être… I struggle to get the difference between the examples in the lesson and then struggle even more in the quizzes! Is there a trick to understanding the difference between the two versions? Thank you 

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DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Monte

The quiz says: "Lucas a monté la nouvelle armoire de sa soeur: means.

The 2 answers expected were:

1. Lucas assembled his sister's new wardrobe.

2. Lucas took his sister's new wardrobe upstairs.

But the French does not specify the location so the translation can only be "Lucas took his sister's new wardrobe up" - not upstairs. Perhaps it was up a ramp or a hill. Since that translation was not offered surely only the one answer should be allowed.

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi David,

It can mean both, you would know which from the context.

Monte

The quiz says: "Lucas a monté la nouvelle armoire de sa soeur: means.

The 2 answers expected were:

1. Lucas assembled his sister's new wardrobe.

2. Lucas took his sister's new wardrobe upstairs.

But the French does not specify the location so the translation can only be "Lucas took his sister's new wardrobe up" - not upstairs. Perhaps it was up a ramp or a hill. Since that translation was not offered surely only the one answer should be allowed.

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NicoleB2Kwiziq community member

''Lucas a monté la nouvelle armoire de sa soeur.''

Can someone please explain to me how that also translates to "Lucas assembled his sister's new wardrobe"? 
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Nicole,

As explained in the lesson the verb 'monter' has several  meanings in French. 

In this case it is 'monter un meuble' which means to assemble a piece of furniture (think of Ikea) and it will use 'avoir' in the perfect tense.

Hope this helps!

NicoleB2Kwiziq community member
Thank you!

''Lucas a monté la nouvelle armoire de sa soeur.''

Can someone please explain to me how that also translates to "Lucas assembled his sister's new wardrobe"? 

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CrystalMaidenC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Do I always have to use " en silence " instead of " silencieusement " ?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

en silence -- in silence
silensieusement -- silently

Je monte les éscaliers en silence -- I go up the stairs in silence.
Je monte les éscaliers silencieusement -- I go silently up the stairs.

There is a slight difference in meaning. The first one means that you are not speaking while going up the stairs, whereas the second sentence means you take care not to make any noise. But if you always had to use "en silence", what use would the word "silencieusement" have? ;)

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

ChiomaA1Kwiziq community member

Merci beaucoup!

Do I always have to use " en silence " instead of " silencieusement " ?

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RustB2Kwiziq community member

Monté les escaliers

Bonjour, According to my French teacher and on some websites, the correct way to say “You went up the stairs in silence.” is “Tu es monté les escaliers en silence.” as opposed to “Tu as monté les escaliers en silence.” Can you please clarify? Thanks!
Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member

Hi Rust - there are two versions of the verb monter: the first one works with a preposition (sur, en, dans etc) between it and some object (the thing one is getting in or on); the second version works directly with the object (with no preposition between). 

If there's a preposition, then you will use être as the auxiliary, but if there's no preposition you use avoir as the auxiliary.

This is something that is commonly misunderstood and wrongly taught by non-native French teachers who assume that monter always takes être as the auxiliary. There's even a famous mnemonic diagram called the 'maison d'être' which shows monter and descendre with stairs, implying that être is used in passé composé sentences like '... monter les escaliers', but we use avoir in this case.

Hope that helps!

RC1Kwiziq community member
Thank you Gruff! This is very interesting! I’ll ask my teacher about her logic for using être for monté les escaliers.
GruffKwiziq team member

If you're interested in learning a little more about the grammar behind this, it's worth getting familiar with the terms 'transitive' and 'intransitive' verbs:

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/glossary/transitivity 

Don't worry though if grammar jargon is a turn-off; all you need to watch out for is whether a preposition is bewteen the verb and the object and that tells you whether to use avoir or être with these verbs.

Monté les escaliers

Bonjour, According to my French teacher and on some websites, the correct way to say “You went up the stairs in silence.” is “Tu es monté les escaliers en silence.” as opposed to “Tu as monté les escaliers en silence.” Can you please clarify? Thanks!

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GabhanC1Kwiziq community member

avoir + monté

The lesson says that "J'ai monté mon cheval" means "I mounted my horse" and that avoir + monté means "to mount something". In the test it asks what the meaning is of "'Lucas a monté la nouvelle armoire de sa soeur.'' I selected "Lucas got on his sister's new wardrobe" as one of the possible meanings (to me, "got on" means generally the same thing as "mounted", though "getting on" a wardrobe seems like an odd thing to say). Anyway, that answer was marked as incorrect. I don't understand why. Could you help?
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Gabhan, I have a similar point of confusion between «to get on» and «to mount»; however, in the phrase in the post, «Lucas a monté la nouvelle armoire de sa soeur» the most relevant translation using avoir would be one of these two: = to take up (as in taking something upstairs) = to put together (to assemble something, like Ikea furniture or a child's toy that must be assembled). I looked at the quiz question referenced above and both of these translations were the correct ones. I can certainly understand, though, your reasoning for your response. Perhaps the Kwiziq team will review and amend the responses. Bien sûr, bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, La langue de M. Molière. Ron
MohitB1Kwiziq community member

I have the same question as Gabhan. If " avoir monte les escaliers" means going up the stairs.. "avoir monte la armoire" should also mean going up the wardrobe (marked wrong in the quiz).

avoir + monté

The lesson says that "J'ai monté mon cheval" means "I mounted my horse" and that avoir + monté means "to mount something". In the test it asks what the meaning is of "'Lucas a monté la nouvelle armoire de sa soeur.'' I selected "Lucas got on his sister's new wardrobe" as one of the possible meanings (to me, "got on" means generally the same thing as "mounted", though "getting on" a wardrobe seems like an odd thing to say). Anyway, that answer was marked as incorrect. I don't understand why. Could you help?

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GauravA1Kwiziq community member

Monter with a person

Hi Aurélie, This is a great article, thank you. Referring to http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/grammar/avoir_or_etre.shtml can yo clarify "In other cases, particularly when the subject is a person, être is used:" e.g. he went up to the third floor. Is this different to your example above 'you went up the stairs silently"
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Gaurav !

First of all, thank you very much :)
The difference between these two examples is the use of a direct object or not:
"Il est monté au troisième étage."
-> Here there's no direct object (he went up what *where*? to the third floor). Hint: the complement group is introduced by a preposition "au"(à+le).

"Tu as monté les escaliers en silence."
-> Here there is a direct object (you went up *what*? -the stairs). Hint: the group is not introduced by a preposition -> "les". 

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !
GauravA1Kwiziq community member
Merci beaucoup. I noted the use of the preposition as a way of recognising the difference. P.S. It would be good if we got email notifications for these posts.

Monter with a person

Hi Aurélie, This is a great article, thank you. Referring to http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/grammar/avoir_or_etre.shtml can yo clarify "In other cases, particularly when the subject is a person, être is used:" e.g. he went up to the third floor. Is this different to your example above 'you went up the stairs silently"

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AurélieKwiziq team member

Sheila asked: "Do these both mean the same? Je suis monté à cheval./J'ai monté mon cheval."

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Sheila ! This case is confusing but the fact is that you can use either "Je suis monté à cheval." or "J'ai monté mon cheval." to express "I rode/mounted a horse". ​ ​The distinction here is more of a structural kind: ​-> "Je suis monté à cheval." is using "être" because on the preposition "à". The meaning is more general = I rode on horseback. ​ ​-> "J'ai monté mon cheval." is using "avoir" because it is followed by a direct object (i.e. to mount ). This is a more specific statement = I mounted/rode my horse. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
SheilaB2Kwiziq community member
Yes thanks, that's helpful

Sheila asked: "Do these both mean the same? Je suis monté à cheval./J'ai monté mon cheval."

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HaC1Kwiziq community member

Avoir + Transitive & Etre + Intransitive

So in general, when a verb is both transitive and intransitive, we should use avoir with the transitive version, and when applicable, use etre with the intransitive version?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Ha ! No, this is not a general rule at all: this only applies to a handful of (+être) verbs in compound tenses. The great majority of verbs will take "avoir" and only "avoir", and another small group (plus reflexive verbs) will take "être" and only "être". The versatile verbs that can use either "être" or "avoir" are now listed at the end of this lesson. I hope that's helpful!
HaC1Kwiziq community member
Aurélie, thanks for responding to my question and for listing the versatile verbs. I've added them to a separate notebook so I can test myself on this topic again in the future.

Avoir + Transitive & Etre + Intransitive

So in general, when a verb is both transitive and intransitive, we should use avoir with the transitive version, and when applicable, use etre with the intransitive version?

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AurélieKwiziq team member

Lesley asked: "What's the nuance of the expression "monter en ..." ?

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Lesley !

In practice, "Je suis monté en voiture." and "Je suis monté dans la voiture." mean the same thing.

The nuance here is that "monter en ..." is more general, literally "to get in car", so it's used when the context is clear which car you're getting on.
Any time you need to be more specific (i.e. I'm getting in your car.), you will use "monter dans [ta/leur/cette...]...".

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Lesley asked: "What's the nuance of the expression "monter en ..." ?

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AurélieKwiziq team member

D. asked: Can I use "monter" to say "to mount a picture on the wall"

- J'ai monté le tableau sur le mur.
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour D. ! Great question indeed! ​The choice of auxiliary with "monter" would have spot on here, but in French you wouldn't use the verb "monter" to say "to mount a picture on the wall", but the verb "accrocher" or "pendre" (to hang). E.g. "​J'ai accroché le tableau sur le mur." / "J'ai pendu le tableau au mur." I hope that's helpful! Merci et à bientôt !

D. asked: Can I use "monter" to say "to mount a picture on the wall"

- J'ai monté le tableau sur le mur.

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JoakimC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

monter with être/avoir

Les explorateurs ont monté la colline / Les explorateurs sont montés sur la colline. Do these mean the same thing?
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Joakim, Yes, they do. Normally, the meaning with avoir vs être is a bit different, but in this case, the end result is the same.
AurélieKwiziq team member

Here the nuance is of perspective:

"Ils ont monté la colline" is focusing on the process of going up the hill.

"Ils sont montés sur la colline" is more about the end result of being on top of the hill.

In the end, as Laura said, it's quite similar !

monter with être/avoir

Les explorateurs ont monté la colline / Les explorateurs sont montés sur la colline. Do these mean the same thing?

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Getting that for you now.