Hi, I love the website. I too am wondering why 'we brushed our hair' is 'Nous nous sommes brossé les cheveux' rather than with an 's' added to brossé

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Gabrielle

Kwiziq community member

28 April 2018

5 replies

Hi, I love the website. I too am wondering why 'we brushed our hair' is 'Nous nous sommes brossé les cheveux' rather than with an 's' added to brossé

This relates to:
Agreeing past participle with subject's gender and number with (+ être) verbs in Le Passé Composé -

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

30 April 2018

30/04/18

Hi Gabrielle,


The agreement of past participles in the case of reflexive verbs is most interesting.


As they use the auxilliary verb 'être' in the perfect tense, they normally agree just as adjectives in gender and number.


This is always true of simple intransitive verbs like se coucher, s'appelerse réveiller, s'arrêter, which don't have an object.


In the case of verbs like 'se casser.... quelque chose', 'se brosser...quelque chose', 'se laver ...quelque chose' etc. which in English translate literally and oddly to break /brush/wash (yourself ) something which clearly have an object  then we apply the agreement rules of verbs using 'avoir' in the perfect tense, and the past participle will agree only if the object precedes the verb.


Here are a few examples which might help to illustrate the point:


Ils se sont lavé les mains,( They washed their hands) but ils se sont lavés à l'eau froide (They washed  in cold water).


Elle s'est cassé une jambe (She broke a leg) but La jambe qu'elle s'est cassée aura du mal à guérir (The leg she broke will not heal well).


Elles se sont préparé une soupe (They have made (themselves) a soup) but la soupe qu'elles se sont préparée est délicieuse (The soup they made is delicious).


Nous nous sommes acheté une maison (We bought ourselves a house) but La maison que nous nous sommes achetée n'a pas de dépendances (The house we bought has no outbuildings)


Hope this helps!

Gabrielle

Kwiziq community member

30 April 2018

30/04/18

Cécile, that is an enormous help. The examples you gave are really clear. Thank you very much. G

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

30 April 2018

30/04/18

Alan

Kwiziq community member

30 April 2018

30/04/18

Cécile - could you explain this example more, I don't see the difference. Don't both cases have an object which doesn't precede the verb?


Ils se sont lavé les mains,( They washed their hands) but ils se sont lavés les mains à l'eau froide (They washed their hands in cold water).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

1 May 2018

1/05/18

Hi Alan,


Thanks for pointing this out, it is in fact a mistake . The examples should read: 


Ils se sont lavé les mains.


But


Ils se sont lavés à l'eau froide .


Will correct the text above.


 


 

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