Agreement with Direct Objects

French verb agreement
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Accord avec objets directs

Most French verbs are conjugated with avoir as their auxiliary verb in compound tenses and moods, and therefore do not require agreement with their subjects.

But avoir verbs do need agreement in a very specific construction: the past participle must agree with the direct object when it precedes the verb.

Par exemple…

Je vais acheter la voiture que tu as recommandĂ©e.   I’m going to buy the car that you recommended.
J’ai cherchĂ© mes lunettes pendant une heure ; je les ai enfin trouvĂ©es sous le canapĂ©.   I looked for my glasses for an hour; I finally found them under the couch.
– Est-ce que tu as les livres ?
– Oui, il me les a donnĂ©s hier.
  – Do you have the books?
– Yes, he gave them to me yesterday.

 No agreement

There is no agreement for avoir verbs …

1) When the direct object follows the verb

Il a recommandĂ© une nouvelle voiture.   He recommended a new car.
J’ai regardĂ© ces films en novembre.   I watched those movies in November.

2) With indirect objects

Je leur ai parlĂ© hier.   I talked to them yesterday.
Il nous a donnĂ© les meilleures idĂ©es.   He gave us the best ideas.

3) With adverbial pronouns

Elle Ă©tait Ă  la banque ; elle y a passĂ© toute la journĂ©e.   She was at the bank; she spent all day there.
– Tu as jouĂ© de la guitare hier ?
– Oui, j’en ai jouĂ© pendant une heure.
  – Did you play the guitar yesterday?
– Yes, I played it for an hour.

4) In the causative construction

La voiture que j’ai fait rĂ©parer est encore en panne.   The car I had repaired broke down again.
Elle nous a laissĂ© recommencer.   She let us start over.

5) With semi-auxiliary verbs, there’s no agreement with the direct object because the object always belongs to the infinitive, not the semi-auxiliary.

Voici la maison que j’ai pensĂ© acheter.   Here’s the house I thought about buying.
Il y a dix livres qu’il a refusĂ© de lire.   There are 10 books he refused to read.

6) With verbs of perception, there’s no agreement with the direct object….

Les poèmes que j’ai entendu rĂ©citer…   The poems I heard recited…
OĂą Ă©tait la maison que tu as vu brĂ»ler ?   Where was the house you saw burn down?

… but there may be another kind of agreement with verbs of perception


A lot of people want to do away with direct object agreement – what do you think? Read the article and discuss on Facebook:

« Les crĂŞpes que j’ai mangĂ© Â» : un nouvel accord pour le participe passĂ©

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French agreement with direct objects

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