Passer, se passer, se passer de (different meanings of 'passer')

The verb passer in French has a variety of meanings, as diverse as to happen, to do without or simply to pass (by)... 

ATTENTION: it never means to pass (succeed) an exam.
See Passer un exam vs to pass an exam

Here are its main usages: 

Passer [quelque chose/quelqu'un]  
to pass [something/someone] on

First of all, the easy one: passer + thing/person simply means to pass something/someone (on).

Annie, tu me passes le sel ?
Annie, can you pass me the salt?


Attends, je te passe Paul.
Wait, I'm passing Paul onto you.

Passer par / devant ...   (to pass by / in front of...)

Again here, easy: passer (par, devant...) + a location simply means to pass (by, in front of...) somewhere.

Je passe devant chez toi tous les matins.
I pass in front of your house every morning.


Ma tante est passée par la boulangerie en venant ici.
My aunt popped by the bakery on her way here.


Yann passera par chez Laura après le travail.
Yann will pop by Laura's place after work.

Passer + time   (to have + time / to spend + time)

In English, you will use to have to talk about a good time, such as Have a good day! or I had a good evening. In these cases, you will use passer in French:

Je passe un très bon moment.
I´m having a really good time.


Et passez une bonne journée !
And have a good day!

You will also use passer + duration to express to spend (time):

Nous avons passé une semaine à Madrid l'été dernier.
We spent a week in Madrid last summer.


Elles passeront quinze jours en Australie l´année prochaine.
They will spend a fortnight in Australia next year.

  

Se passer   (to happen / take place / to go [event])

To ask How did this event go?, you will use event + (reflexive) se passer:

Comment se sont passées tes vacances ?
How did your holidays go?


La soirée s'est bien passée, tout le monde était content.
The evening went well, everyone was happy.

You can also use thing + se passer to express [this] happens / takes place:

Ça s'est passé un dimanche.
It happened on a Sunday.


Cette histoire se passe au Maroc.
This story takes place in Morocco.

 

Se passer de    (to do without)

And finally, to say that you can do / go without [something/someone], you will use the reflexive form se passer de + thing/person:

Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine.
I´m going to go without bread for a week.

Nous ne pouvons pas nous passer d´eau.
We cannot do without water.

Je peux très bien me passer de toi.
I can very well do without you.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Je passe devant chez toi tous les matins.
I pass in front of your house every morning.


Elles passeront quinze jours en Australie l´année prochaine.
They will spend a fortnight in Australia next year.


Je peux très bien me passer de toi.
I can very well do without you.


Et passez une bonne journée !
And have a good day!


Yann passera par chez Laura après le travail.
Yann will pop by Laura's place after work.


Je passe un très bon moment.
I´m having a really good time.


Ça s'est passé un dimanche.
It happened on a Sunday.


Comment se sont passées tes vacances ?
How did your holidays go?


Attends, je te passe Paul.
Wait, I'm passing Paul onto you.


Nous avons passé une semaine à Madrid l'été dernier.
We spent a week in Madrid last summer.


La soirée s'est bien passée, tout le monde était content.
The evening went well, everyone was happy.


Nous ne pouvons pas nous passer d´eau.
We cannot do without water.


Annie, tu me passes le sel ?
Annie, can you pass me the salt?


Ma tante est passée par la boulangerie en venant ici.
My aunt popped by the bakery on her way here.


Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine.
I´m going to go without bread for a week.


Cette histoire se passe au Maroc.
This story takes place in Morocco.


Q&A

Katie

Kwiziq community member

5 August 2018

1 reply

Please present passé composé for this lesson

I think this lesson could be presented more clearly if conjugations for both present tense and passé composé were given for each item.  

Chris

Kwiziq community member

9 August 2018

9/08/18

Hi Katie,


you mean the conjugation of "passer" and "se passer" in passé composé?


Je passe -- Je me suis passé(e)
Tu passes -- Tu t'es passé(e)
Il/elle/on passe -- Il s'est passé/...


Nous passons -- nous nous sommes passé(e)s
Vous passez -- vous vous êtes passé(e)(s)
Ils/elles passent -- ils se sont passés/...


-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Dina

Kwiziq community member

14 July 2018

2 replies

Passer chez qn: avoir ou etre?

Hi!

I'm confused with the meaning "I pass by sth/sb", would you pls help to clarify?

in the examples to the lesson "Passer with etre and avoir... change meanings"  https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/my-languages/french/view/4583 the sentence Elle est passée chez Laurent hier is certainly used with "etre", while in the example to the current lesson the example with the same meaning as I can understand from translation implies "avoir": Je passe devant chez toi tous les matins.

What is the difference? Is there any particualar nuance?

Thanks!

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

14 July 2018

14/07/18

Hi Dina,


In the examples you give the verb passer has two different meanings:


Je suis passé(e) d'abord chez elle avant de... = I dropped by her house before ... and it will use être in the perfect tense.


Je suis passé(e) devant chez toi ce matin= I went by your house this morning, will use être too.


The first verb implies a quick visit, to drop by/ to pop in.


The second is to pass by in a physical sense.


Passer quelque chose à quelqu'un to pass something to someone


will take avoir as will passer when it means to spend time .


Je lui ai passé le sel = I gave him the salt.


Nous avons passé de bons moments ensemble = We spent/had some good time together


Hope this helps!

Dina

Kwiziq community member

14 July 2018

14/07/18

Thanks, this helps!

Nabeel

Kwiziq community member

9 June 2018

6 replies

Comment se sont passées tes vacances ?

Why not ( comment tes vacances se passent-elles? ) ?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

11 June 2018

11/06/18

Hi Nabeel,


The difference between the two sentences is a question of tense.


In the lesson it is "How did your holidays go?" in the past .


Your suggestion is "How is your holiday going?" which is the present tense.


Hope this helps!


 

Alan

Kwiziq community member

11 June 2018

11/06/18

Hi Cecile,


but why isn't it "comment tes vacances se sont-elles passées"?


Don't you have to use a pronoun in the inversion, as described here:


https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/forming-inverted-questions-with-nouns-in-le-passe-compose-conversational-past


Alan

Kwiziq community member

11 June 2018

11/06/18

I think I found the answer to my question. There is simple inversion ("Comment se sont passées tes vacances?") and complex inversion ("Comment tes vacances se sont-elles passées?").


Comment (and combien and quand) can be used with either form. always takes the simple form, and pourquoi always takes the complex.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

12 June 2018

12/06/18

Hmm it seems it is more complicated still. The behaviour with  also depends on the tense of the verb and the complexity of the sentence:


Où est Monsieur le Ministre?  


Où M. Le Ministre a-t-il éte reçu? 


Où M. Le Ministre est-il en ce moment?


My grammar book is not very clear on whether this also applies to comment etc.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

18 June 2018

18/06/18

Hi Alan,


If I have understood correctly, you are querying the additional pronoun used in some the more complex questions .


I believe it only happens with the inversion regardless of the tense.


In your last example, you could also say - 


Où M. le Ministre est-il? but it does sound rather pompous...


Some other examples would be :


Madame, va-t-elle prendre quelque chose avec son café?


Pourquoi Juliette va-t-elle seule au cinéma?


Où les enfants sont-ils allés?


and in the original example - Comment tes vacances se sont-elles passées?


Hope this helps!


 


 


 

Alan

Kwiziq community member

18 June 2018

18/06/18

Hi Cécile,


My point was that according to the lesson below (and other similar lessons), the form with an additional pronoun is always required, but it seems that actually in simple cases it is not required. (And sometimes probably should not be used, because it would sound pompous.) What defines "simple" seems to include tense.


https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/forming-inverted-questions-with-nouns-in-le-passe-compose-conversational-past

G

Kwiziq community member

15 March 2018

3 replies

Could someone explain why "Comment vont tes vacances" is wrong? (vont instead of se passer)

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 March 2018

16/03/18

The goal of the lesson is to practice the use of "passer" in its variants. Hence you're supposed to use an appropriate construction in your reply. 


-- Chris. 

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

16 March 2018

16/03/18

Bonjour G !


Aller in this context is used for people, but not for events.
It means "how are you?" in the sense of "how are you going [health/life-wise]?", so it doesn't work for inanimate objects :)


Bonne journée !

G

Kwiziq community member

16 March 2018

16/03/18

Thankyou Chris and Aurélie for clearing that up !

Michael

Kwiziq community member

22 January 2018

3 replies

passer la serpillère (mop something)

Where does mop, vacuum etc fit in with the different passer categories. Your site is unequalled don't worry too much about missing a few questions.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

22 January 2018

22/01/18

I know that to vacuum is "passer l'aspirateur".

-- Chris.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

23 January 2018

23/01/18

Also passer un chiffon , une éponge.... all to do with cleaning .

Not to be confused with 'Passer l'éponge ' which means let bygones be bygones!

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Bonjour Michael !


As the lesson states, when passer is followed by a direct object - i.e. to pass [something], it will use the auxiliary avoir in compound tenses:


J'ai passé la serpillère ce matin.
Il a passé l'aspirateur dans sa chambre. 

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Lolli

Kwiziq community member

13 January 2018

1 reply

There are a whole lot of questions here that have never been answered. Why is that?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 January 2018

15/01/18

Bonjour Lolli !

The honest answer is: we got a bit overwhelmed and lost track :(

But we're reviewing and going back through the Q&A to make sure we answer everyone, and thanks to you, I've now done that for this lesson, so please bear with us :)

Bonne journée !

Krissa

Kwiziq community member

7 September 2017

1 reply

Pendant and the verb se passer

Hi can I get help with the sentence < Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine.>. I thought that for durations of time in the future you use ? Thanks in advance

Ron

Kwiziq community member

9 September 2017

9/09/17

Bonjour Krissa,
Here is the grammar lesson associated with expressions of duration of time:
«Note that these cases all express a duration with a clear beginning and end. Whether they take place in the past, present, or future, they are considered as enclosed in a specific time-frame.
In French, you use pendant/durant + [durée], or simply the duration itself, to express a duration with a clear beginning and end.
Since the phrase in question, «Je vais me passer de pain pendant une semaine» has a clear beginning and an end, i.e. one week only, regardless of the start day, the use of pendant is appropriate.
Take a look at a comparison example:
Beginning tomorrow, I am going to go without bread for a period of time --> À partir de demain, je vais me passer de pain pour une période de temps.
In this example, this grammar rule would be applicable because there is no clearly defined beginning AND end, just the beginning or start of the period, i.e. demain.
This sentence expresses a future duration, with a notion of intent, hence the use of pour.
In French, you use pour + [durée] only to express a duration in the future.
J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera.
Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français.

Celine

Kwiziq community member

7 August 2017

3 replies

Passé composé with être or avoir or both?

Hi can you help me with the conjugation of "passer"with être and avoir. There is an example of both but I'm not sure how to know when to use them.. Ma tante est passée........, nous avons passé une semaine...... When it's se passer it's not a problem as it's always conjugated with être. Many thanks

Ron

Kwiziq community member

8 August 2017

8/08/17

Bonjour Celine,
I too have difficulty with the use of être or avoir with certain verbs to give a different meaning.
Most verbs use either avoir or être as the auxiliary verb in le Passé Composé (or other compound tense), but passer uses both, depending on what it means in the sentence*.
être + passé
= pass by
= go past
= stop by
= pop by
avoir + passé
= spend
= take
= pass (to someone)
I am not exactly sure how and when to differentiate the two in the respective function.
The only thing that seems to have helped are the translations given in the lesson, and to me even that is somewhat ambiguous with certain verbs.
Wish that i had more to offer you besides just saying that there are others who experience the same issue.l
Bonne chance !
Ron

Celine

Kwiziq community member

8 August 2017

8/08/17

Merci Ron, je suis contente que je ne suis pas seule:) C

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

9 August 2017

9/08/17

Salut Celine,

Check out:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/passer-can-be-used-with-avoir-or-etre-in-le-passe-compose-and-changes-meaning

Also, you can follow the link in that lesson "Verbes aux deux auxiliaires" to see information and lessons for verbs that can use both avoir and être in Le Passé Composé.

Technically, it's a matter of whether the verbs are used in their transitive or intransitive forms, but the easiest pattern to spot is whether or not a preposition follows (en, à, sur, dans etc.)

Hope that helps!

Héctor

Kwiziq community member

15 June 2017

2 replies

I have a question

At the beginning of this lesson you said "ATTENTION: it never means to pass (succeed) an exam." But in the kwizzes youre marking it as correct in "Il a passé son examen". I took a screen shot (http://i.imgur.com/gDxj3dx.png). By any chance do you mean He passed his exam (e.g. to the teacher, to the person infront of him)? Its kind of confusing when youre using the same word in different contexts.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

17 June 2017

17/06/17

Bonjour Héctor,
Dans la phrase «Il a passé son examen"» il a passé traduit «He took his test». Il n'y a pas une reference n'il a le succès n'il l'a raté.
J'espère que cela vous aidera.
Ron

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 June 2017

19/06/17

Bonjour Héctor !

As Ron noticed, "passer" can mean "to *take* an exam", which means to sit an exam, to do it, without any mention of the result.
However, "to pass" in English contains the notion of succeeding, of getting the exam, which in French would be expressing otherwise, with verbs like "avoir / obtenir / réussir".

See our related lessons:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/to-pass-an-exam-versus-passer-un-examen
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/how-to-say-to-pass-an-exam-with-avoir-un-exam

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

David

Kwiziq community member

9 January 2017

4 replies

Isn't "Je te passe Paul" ambiguous? How do you know which is the direct and indirect pronoun ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 January 2017

10/01/17

Bonjour David !

Here, it would be literally "I pass Paul to you" or in incorrect French "Je passe Paul à toi".
Therefore, "Paul" is the direct object here (not introduced by a preposition) when "te" is the indirect object pronoun.

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

harris

Kwiziq community member

5 September 2017

5/09/17

How would I say: "I'm passing you to her"?
Would it be: "Je lui passe toi"?

harris

Kwiziq community member

5 September 2017

5/09/17

Or maybe it is: "Je lui te passe".

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 January 2018

15/01/18

Bonjour Harris !


Your question is actually more complex than it looked :)


I spent a few minutes turning it over in my (native) head, and the conclusion is in French you can't say "I'm passing you to her."!


Instead we'd shift the point of view and would say "I'm passing her to you.":


Je vous la passe. / Je te la passe.


 


I hope that's helpful!

Let me take a look at that...