Il a plu ce matin.
ee lah plew smaa-TAA. Click below to hear this.*
It rained this morning.
Sometimes irregular verbs are just plain strange. Take this one, for example: pleuvoir, to rain. The minute you see that -oir ending, you know you’re going to have to deal with some weirdness.
To begin with, only it can rain. You and I can’t rain. So this verb is conjugated in the third person singular only: in the present tense, il pleut. Then there are the imperfect (il pleuvait) and the future (il pleuvra) tenses, and the conditional mood (il pleuvrait).
But the oddest tense of this verb is the passé composé, the compound past. It describes an action that happened but is now completed. Il a plu means that it rained, and the rain has stopped.
But here’s where the weirdness comes in. Il a plu is also the passé composé of the verb plaire, to please. So il a plu can also mean he/it pleased.
Context is everything! Are we talking about an actor, a book, a movie? You might drop an indirect object in there, to clarify your meaning: il m’a plu, it pleased me. Less than enthusiastic praise, perhaps, but it was good enough. Talking about the weather? Il a plu definitely means rain.
And since we are experiencing a drought just now, I can say Il a plu, ce qui m’a plu. It rained, which pleased me.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: