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Être or avoir

LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Être or avoir

Is it not a hard rule that verbs take être when followed by a preposition? In this phrase, I used avoir, which was wrong but there is no preposition that I can see: Quand vous y (êtes or avez) retourné, le corps avait disparu. Seems like retourner is followed by a noun. I use this method to determine quickly which auxiliary to use so would like to know if there are exceptions. Many thanks. 

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Liz,

All the intransitive verbs of 'retour' take the auxiliary être :

rentrer, retourner, revenir 

In the sentence you quote :

"Quand vous y êtes retourné, le corps avait disparu"= When you returned there, the body had disappeared

The noun ( corps) is the subject of avait disparu, a separate clause, separated by a coma. The verb 'retourner' has no object and it is intransitive as 'rentrer' and 'revenir' in the following examples:

Je suis retourné/e à Paris = I have gone back to Paris

Je suis rentré/e pour lui parler = I came home to speak to him/her

Je suis revenu/e après elle = I came back after her

The verb 'retourner' is 'special' as it can sometimes be transitive and have an object :

Retourner quelque chose to take something back/ to turn something upside down/to turn something inside out 

Hope this clears the confusion...

Bonne Continuation!

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Liz, I have added further comments in another discussion that may help. Although it seems in your example that it meets the condition from the lesson «When retourner is followed immediately by a noun (as opposed to a preposition), it uses avoir as the auxiliary, like most verbs», it doesn't as the noun is not the direct object of retourner, but the subject of the 2nd clause in the sentence. That could be a little more clearly explained in the lesson perhaps. 

Être or avoir

Is it not a hard rule that verbs take être when followed by a preposition? In this phrase, I used avoir, which was wrong but there is no preposition that I can see: Quand vous y (êtes or avez) retourné, le corps avait disparu. Seems like retourner is followed by a noun. I use this method to determine quickly which auxiliary to use so would like to know if there are exceptions. Many thanks. 

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