Look at these usages of Passé composé:
Je suis arrivé à 18h30.I got there at 6.30pm.
L'Angleterre a gagné la bataille de Trafalgar en 1805.England won the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
J'ai acheté un pull ce matin.I bought a jumper this morning.
Il a préparé le dîner, il a mis la table, puis il a attendu qu'elle rentre du travail.He made dinner, set the table, then waited for her to come home from work.
Note that although Passé composé
is structurally similar
to English Present Perfect (I have done)
, in most cases, it is the direct equivalent
to the English Simple Past (I did)
Indeed, the French Passé composé
refers to a single
past action that is definite
, with a clear start and end
, and looked at as one point in time
(hence often paired with a clear date or timeframe).
In some cases, Passé composé
can be translated either as Simple Past or Present Perfect:
J'y suis allé deux fois aujourd'hui. I went there twice today.
J'y suis allé deux fois aujourd'hui.I have gone there twice today.
The nuances we have in English between I went and I have gone don't really exist in French. They're instead expressed through the context and the tone used.
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