Être is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in conjugation and literally means "to be." Être is also used in some idiomatic expressions and as an auxiliary verb for compound tenses and the passive voice.
Être means "to be" in many senses that this verb is used in English.
1. It is used with adjectives, nouns, and adverbs to describe a temporary or permanent state of being:
Il est beau - He is handsome
Je suis à Paris - I'm in Paris
Nous sommes français - We're French
Il est là-bas - He's over there
2. Être is used to describe someone's profession; however, note that the indefinite article is not used in this construction in French:
Mon père est avocat - My father is a lawyer
Je suis étudiant - I'm a student
3. Être can be used with the preposition à plus a stressed pronoun to indicate possession:
Ce livre est à moi
This is my book.
- À qui est cet argent ? - C'est à Paul.
- Whose money is this? - It's Paul's.
4. Expressions with être
There are a number of English "to be" expressions which are translated in French by avoir (to have):
avoir froid - to be cold
avoir raison - to be right
avoir xx ans - to be xx years old
more expressions with avoir
When talking about the weather, French uses the verb faire (to do/make) rather than être:
Quel temps fait-il ? - How's the weather?
Il fait beau - It's nice out
Il fait du vent - It's windy
more expressions with faire
Être as an Auxiliary Verb
1. Être is the auxiliary for some verbs in the compound tenses:
Je suis allé en France - I went to France
Nous étions déjà sortis - We had already left
Il serait venu si... - He would have come if...
2. Être is used to form the passive voice:
La voiture est lavée - The car is washed
Il est respecté de tout le monde - He is respected by everyone
Most common French verbs