should the past participle agree in this sentence, "Elle s'est lavé les mains" ?

Brian

Kwiziq community member

21 July 2017

6 replies

should the past participle agree in this sentence, "Elle s'est lavé les mains" ?

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

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

22 July 2017

22/07/17

Brian

Kwiziq community member

22 July 2017

22/07/17

I am aware of the rules for agreement of past participles with verbs conjugated with être. Because "les mains" is a direct object, I think a different rule applies. I am very confused by this rule, but cannot find an explanation in Kwiziq. Could I please get a second opinion on this?

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

23 July 2017

23/07/17

Hi Brian,

Ah, I think the lesson for special case(s) for direct objects that you might be thinking about is this:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/special-cases-when-the-past-participle-agrees-in-number-and-gender-when-used-with-avoir-in-le-passe-compose-conversational-past

Note that these special cases concern when you need to agree the past participle when 'avoir' is the auxiliary. The participle must always agree when 'être' is the auxiliary.

Hope that helps!

Brian

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2017

23/07/17

Thanks for that Gruff, but it may not be correct. I have managed to find this which you should read,
https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/agreement-with-pronominal-verbs/
You will note that Laura uses the following example: Elles se sont lavé les cheveux. Note that there is no agreement unless (like with avoir) the direct object precedes the auxilliary verb. The direct object is les cheveux, se becomes the indirect object.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

23 July 2017

23/07/17

Brian - I apologise I didn't know this! Laura is of course, right.

Elles se sont lavées. (Qui est lavé ? "Elles", écrit avant, accord)
Elles se sont lavé les cheveux. (Ce qui est lavé ? "les cheveux", écrit après, pas d'accord.)
Les cheveux qu'elles se sont lavés (Ce qui est lavé ? "les cheveux", écrit avant, accord.)

I'm not sure I entirely follow the logic of this, but it apparently the case!

Aurelie is away currently, but I'll make sure she takes a look too and we can have a Kwiziq lesson to deal with these cases (and there appear to be even more arcane rules on top from what I've read since.)

Thanks for pointing this out!

Cordialement, Gruff

Brian

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2017

23/07/17

Thank you, a lesson on this very confusing subject would be welcome.

Your answer

Login to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Think you've got all the answers?

Test your French to the CEFR standard

find your French level »
2933questions6063answers123,069users
How has your day been?