The negative of the perfect tense in French

Having seen how the French negative works in general with ne ... pas, we'll look at how to form the negative of the perfect tense. This allows us to say in French that something "didn't happen in the past".

If you haven't learnt the perfect tense yet, then you'll understand this page better if you first go and learn the basics of the French perfect tense. (This is the form used normally to express basic past tense forms such as I've been, I went, she saw etc.)

The basic idea is as follows:

  • put ne ... pas around the auxiliary (avoir or être);
  • then put the past participle after pas.

For example, compare these affirmative and negative sentences:

j'ai regardé la télé
I watched TV
je n'ai pas regardé la télé
I didn't watch TV
j'ai fait mes devoirs
I did my homework, I've done my homework
je n'ai pas fait mes devoirs
I didn't do my homework, I haven't done my homework
je suis parti en vacances
I went on holiday
je ne suis pas parti en vacances
I didn't go on holiday

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This page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2017. All rights reserved.