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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 le Passé Composé (or other compound tense)but monter uses both, depending on what it means in the sentence*.

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.


Notice that in each case where être is the auxilliary, the verb monter is followed by a preposition (en, sur, dans, à etc.).  I.e. 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!).  
 
So:

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

but

Je suis monté à cheval.
I rode on horseback.

 
Note for grammar nerds: the technical grammatical distinction between these cases is actually whether the transitive or intransitive version of the verb is used. The transitive version (the version with a direct object) uses avoir.  The intransitive version lacking a direct object, uses être.
 

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

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

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.


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.


Q&A

Nicole

Kwiziq community member

16 May 2018

2 replies

''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"? 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

17 May 2018

17/05/18

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!

Nicole

Kwiziq community member

17 May 2018

17/05/18

Thank you!

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

8 May 2018

1 reply

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

8 May 2018

8/05/18

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).

Rust

Kwiziq community member

7 March 2018

3 replies

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!

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

7 March 2018

7/03/18

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!

R

Kwiziq community member

7 March 2018

7/03/18

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

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

7 March 2018

7/03/18

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://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.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.

gabhan

Kwiziq community member

25 August 2017

1 reply

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?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

25 August 2017

25/08/17

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

Gaurav

Kwiziq community member

30 April 2017

2 replies

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"

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

1 May 2017

1/05/17

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 !

Gaurav

Kwiziq community member

6 May 2017

6/05/17

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.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

6 December 2016

2 replies

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

6 December 2016

6/12/16

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 !

sheila

Kwiziq community member

6 December 2016

6/12/16

Yes thanks, that's helpful

Ha

Kwiziq community member

25 September 2016

2 replies

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?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

25 September 2016

25/09/16

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!

Ha

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2016

12/10/16

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.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 September 2016

1 reply

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 September 2016

9/09/16

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 !

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 August 2016

1 reply

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

- J'ai monté le tableau sur le mur.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 August 2016

19/08/16

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 !

Joakim

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2016

2 replies

monter with être/avoir

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

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

27 April 2016

27/04/16

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.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 September 2016

9/09/16

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 !

Clever stuff underway!