Accord du verbe
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In French, the past participles in compound tenses and moods sometimes have to agree with another part of the sentence, either the subject or the direct object. It’s a lot like adjectives: when agreement is required, you need to add e for feminine subjects/objects and s for plural ones.
Verb agreement can be broken down into five categories.
1) Être verbs
The verbs that require être as the helping verb in the compound tenses and moods require agreement with the subject in all of those conjugations.
|Pauline est tombée hier.||Pauline fell yesterday.|
|Ils seraient arrivés avant lui.||They would have arrived before him.|
|Elles étaient allées à la plage.||They’d gone to the beach.|
2) Passive voice
Similar to être verbs, all passive voice conjugations require agreement with the subject.
|La fille est regardée de tout le monde.||The girl is watched by everyone.|
|Ils ont été immédiatement achetés.||They were purchased immediately.|
|Elles auront été trouvées avant demain.||They will have been found by tomorrow.|
Learn more about agreement with être verbs and the passive voice.
3) Avoir verbs
The vast majority of French verbs use avoir as their auxiliary and don’t agree with their subjects the way être verbs do. However, they require agreement with any preceding direct object.
|Je lis la lettre que j’ai reçue ce matin.||I’m reading the letter I received this morning.|
|Il nous a trouvés dans le parc.||He found us in the park.|
|Où sont les filles ? Je ne les ai pas vues depuis des heures.||Where are the girls? I haven’t seen them for hours.|
Learn more about agreement with avoir verbs.
4) Pronominal verbs
Agreement with pronominal verbs is less straightforward. Generally speaking, since pronominal verbs use être as their auxiliary verb, they require agreement with the subject.
|Virginie s’est habillée en cinq minutes.||Virginie got dressed in five minutes.|
|Les profs se sont réunis hier.||The teachers got together yesterday.|
|Elles se seront reposées.||They will have rested.|
However, when the subject is the indirect object of the verb rather than the direct object, there is no agreement – learn more.
5) Verbs of perception
Agreement with verbs of perception is even trickier. They require agreement only when the subject of the infinitive precedes the verb of perception.
|La fille que j’ai entendue pleurer.||The girl I heard crying.|
|Je les ai vus voler la voiture.||I saw them stealing the car.|
Learn more about agreement with verbs of perception.
|Quiz: Verb agreement|
For more detailed explanations of all of the above, see these lessons:
- Agreement with subjects (être verbs: 1, 2, avoir verbs: 5)
- Agreement with direct objects (avoir verbs: 3)
- Agreement with subjects/direct objects (pronominal verbs: 4)
- Other types of French agreement
- PwLF super list of lessons on agreement
- Auxiliary verbs
- Causative construction
- Direct objects
- Indirect objects
- Passive voice
- Past participles
- Pronominal verbs
- Introduction to French verbs
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