French Auxiliary VerbsAn auxiliary verb, also known as a helping verb, is a verb that helps to conjugate the compound tenses/moods. The auxiliary verb is conjugated into a particular tense/mood and followed by the past participle of the main verb.
French has two auxiliary verbs: avoir and être.*
- Passé composé
Il a mangé. - He ate.
Il est parti. - He left.
Il avait mangé. - He had eaten.
Il était parti. - He had left.
- Past conditional
Il aurait mangé. - He would have eaten.
Il serait parti. - He would have left.
*Most verbs require avoir as auxiliary; only a few dozen have être as the auxiliary. And a few verbs have different meanings depending on the auxiliary verb.