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 recommandée. I’m going to buy the car that you recommended.
J’ai cherché mes lunettes pendant une heure ; je les ai enfin trouvées sous le canapé. 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 donnés 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 recommandé une nouvelle voiture. He recommended a new car.
J’ai regardé ces films en novembre. I watched those movies in November.

2) With indirect objects

Je leur ai parlé hier. I talked to them yesterday.
Il nous a donné les meilleures idées. He gave us the best ideas.

3) With adverbial pronouns

Elle était à la banque ; elle y a passé toute la journée. She was at the bank; she spent all day there.
– Tu as joué de la guitare hier ?
– Oui, j’en ai joué 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 réparer est encore en panne. The car I had repaired broke down again.
Elle nous a laissé 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 pensé acheter. Here’s the house I thought about buying.
Il y a dix livres qu’il a refusé 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 réciter… The poems I heard recited…
Où était la maison que tu as vu brûler ? 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 crêpes que j’ai mangé » : un nouvel accord pour le participe passé

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French agreement with direct objects

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