Verbes de sensation : Accord
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French verbs of perception are subject to grammatical agreement in the compound tenses, but the rules are somewhat tricky. Unlike other avoir verbs, which agree with their direct objects when they precede the verb, verbs of perception agree with their subjects when they precede the verb.
So there are two questions to ask in order to figure out whether you need agreement.
1) Does the noun / pronoun precede or follow the verb?
|Il a vu peindre la maison.||He saw the house being painted.|
|J’ai entendu aboyer les chiens.||I heard the dogs barking.|
This part is easy: If it follows the verb, as in the above examples, there is no agreement – you’re done. If it precedes the verb, go on to the second question.
2) Is the noun / pronoun the subject or the object of the infinitive?
This is more complicated – how do you know whether it’s the subject or object? You have to carefully consider the noun / pronoun: is it performing the action of the infinitive or being performed on?
a – If the noun / pronoun is being performed on, it’s the object and there is no agreement – you’re done.
|La maison qu’il a vu peindre.||The house he saw being painted.|
|Il l’a vu peindre.||He saw it being painted.|
b – If the noun or pronoun is doing the action, it’s the subject and requires agreement.
|Les chiens que j’ai entendus aboyer.||The dogs I heard barking.|
|Je les ai entendus aboyer.||I heard them barking.|
When the sentence has both subject and object, you have to be particularly careful to figure out which is which in order to get the agreement right.
|J’ai entendu les étudiants mener la discussion.||I heard the students leading the discussion.|
|La discussion que j’ai entendu mener les étudiants.||The discussion I heard the students leading.|
|La discussion que je les ai entendus mener.||The discussion I heard them leading.|
|Je les ai entendus mener la discussion.||I heard them leading the discussion.|
|Je les ai entendus la mener.||I heard them leading it.|
More about French verbs of perception
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