Special cases when the past participle agrees (in number & gender) when used with 'avoir' in Le Passé Composé

In most cases, the past participle when used with avoir as an auxiliary never changes:

Nous avons mangé. / Ils ont fini.
We ate. / They finished.

BUT

when the direct object of the verb is placed before the verb, the past participle has to agree with this object.

Here are the main cases in which the direct object ends up before the verb. 

CASE of direct object pronouns

When you replace the direct object by an direct object pronoun (le/la/l'/les), it moves before the verb. That's when the past participle has to agree.

J'ai regardé la fille.
I watched the girl.


-> The direct object la fille of the verb ai regardé is placed after the verb, therefore there's no agreement.

Je l'ai regardée.
I watched her.


-> Here the direct object pronoun l' (which replaces la fille -feminine/singular) is placed before the verb ai regardé, therefore there is agreement

Here are more examples:

- Et la télé ? -  Il l'a regardée.
- What about TV?  - He watched it.

- Et les bonbons ?  - Elle les a mangés.
- What about the sweets?  - She ate them.

Et les pompiers, tu les as vus ?
And the firemen, have you seen them?

Ces statues... Tu les as faites toi-même ?
These statues... Did you make them yourself?

ATTENTION: 

This rule doesn't apply to indirect object pronouns. For those, there is never any agreement.
See the following examples:

- Tu as parlé à Laura ? - Non, je ne lui ai pas parlé.
- Have you spoken to Laura? - No, I haven't spoken to her.

- Est-ce qu'elle a téléphoné à ses parents ? - Oui, elle leur a téléphoné hier.
- Did she call her parents? - Yes, she called them yesterday.

 

 

CASE of subordinate clauses with que

 

When you give extra details about a noun by including que..(that...), then this noun is the object of the second clause, and que being before the verb, the past participle agrees with this object

J'ai senti les fleurs.
I smelled the flowers.


-> The direct object les fleurs of the verb ai senti is placed after the verb, therefore there's no agreement.

Les fleurs que j'ai senties étaient belles.
The flowers that I smelled were beautiful.


-> Here the relative pronoun que (which repeats les fleurs [feminine/plural] in the subordinate clause) is placed before the verb ai senti, therefore there is agreement

Here are more examples:

J'aime les fraises que Maman a cueillies.
I love the strawberries Mum picked up.

J'ai rencontré les actrices que j'ai appréciées.
I met the actresses whom I have appreciated.

Les matchs que Marseille a perdus étaient truqués.
The games (that) Marseille lost were fixed.

Les photos que tu as prises sont toutes floues.
The pictures that you took are all blurry.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Et les pompiers, tu les as vus ?
And the firemen, have you seen them?


- Est-ce qu'elle a téléphoné à ses parents ? - Oui, elle leur a téléphoné hier.
- Did she call her parents? - Yes, she called them yesterday.


Les fleurs que j'ai senties étaient belles.
The flowers that I smelled were beautiful.


- Tu as parlé à Laura ? - Non, je ne lui ai pas parlé.
- Have you spoken to Laura? - No, I haven't spoken to her.


Ces statues... Tu les as faites toi-même ?
These statues... Did you make them yourself?


J'ai senti les fleurs.
I smelled the flowers.


Les photos que tu as prises sont toutes floues.
The pictures that you took are all blurry.


Je l'ai regardée.
I watched her.


Les matchs que Marseille a perdus étaient truqués.
The games (that) Marseille lost were fixed.


J'ai regardé la fille.
I watched the girl.


case of the object pronoun


- Et la télé ? -  Il l'a regardée.
- What about TV?  - He watched it.


- Et les bonbons ?  - Elle les a mangés.
- What about the sweets?  - She ate them.


case of the subordinate clause with 'que'


J'aime les fraises que Maman a cueillies.
I love the strawberries Mum picked up.


J'ai rencontré les actrices que j'ai appréciées.
I met the actresses whom I have appreciated.


Q&A Forum 13 questions, 28 answers

PatA1Kwiziq community member

Subordinate clause with que

J'ai  joui les fraises que Maman a cueillies.  is correct since the que refers back to the fraises


Je les ai jois (s?) que Maman a cueillie(s?)  How does it work here, where you have the fraises referenced by the les before the ai?  Do both of these need to agree?

Asked 3 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi everyone,

I would be interested to know where this example came from as in the lesson the verb used 'aimer' is used in the context of strawberries.

The verb 'jouir' in French has sexual connotations and is best avoided to mean 'to enjoy'.

apprécier , trouver agréable, prendre plaisir are much safer verbs to use to mean to enjoy as in to relish.

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

It works the same way as in the first example: que refers to les fraises and therefore it is again cueillies.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I don't think your second example is allowed - que has to refer back to a noun, not a pronoun. You would have to replace the whole phrase "les fraises que Maman a cueillies" with a pronoun. Also, I think jouir has to be followed by de, so the first example should be "j'ai joui des fraises que ...." and the second example would then be "J'en ai joui."  No agreement, because it's an indirect object.

Subordinate clause with que

J'ai  joui les fraises que Maman a cueillies.  is correct since the que refers back to the fraises


Je les ai jois (s?) que Maman a cueillie(s?)  How does it work here, where you have the fraises referenced by the les before the ai?  Do both of these need to agree?

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JaGGaC1Kwiziq community member

Clearer explanation please

I believe it would be better to replace "behind" with "after" to be consistent with the use of "before" in the following paragraph :

J'ai regardé la fille.     la fille is the object of ai regardé but it's behind, so no agreement.
I watched the girl.
-> Je l'ai regardée.     l' replaces la fille -feminine/singular- and it's before the verb, so agreement.
I watched her.
Asked 3 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Thank you for your suggestion,  JaGGa , ‘behind’ has been changed to ‘after’ .

JaGGa asked:View original

Clearer explanation please

I believe it would be better to replace "behind" with "after" to be consistent with the use of "before" in the following paragraph :

J'ai regardé la fille.     la fille is the object of ai regardé but it's behind, so no agreement.
I watched the girl.
-> Je l'ai regardée.     l' replaces la fille -feminine/singular- and it's before the verb, so agreement.
I watched her.

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GeraldineA2Kwiziq community member

I don't ever remember learning that. Thank you.

Asked 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Merci, Geraldine et bonne continuation!

I don't ever remember learning that. Thank you.

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ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Doubt in the concept

Bonjour Madame,

In the sentence "Hier,quelle robe as-tu portée pour la soirée?"

Why has the accord 'e' been added in the past participle 'porté'

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Varsha,

Because in the case of verbs which take 'avoir' in the passé composé, the past participle (porté) agrees with the object when it precedes the verb, 'robe' being feminine , an 'e' is added and it becomes 'portée'.

There are many examples in this lesson.

Hope this helps!

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Merci Madame
ScottC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Ok, but this would seem to be a third case not explicitly handled in the lesson, right? The lesson introduces two cases:

CASE of the object pronouns
CASE of the subordinate clause with que

But this question seems to address a third case:

"CASE of object appearing before verb"

Or am I understanding wrong?

regards, Scott

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Scott,

 If you re-read the lesson it is the first case of the object pronouns which is covered in this lesson:

 J'ai regardé la fille -----  Je l'ai regardée

l' la fille,  which now precedes the verb so, regardée, has an extra 'e' to mark the feminine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ScottC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi Cécile,

thanks for the answer! I understand the concept, however, "robe" is not a pronoun but a noun, and the explanation you refer to is in the section "CASE of the object pronouns". So I would respectfully suggest that the lesson is worded not quite clearly. It might be better if the section were labeled "CASE of the object appearing before the verb" and would include examples of nouns as well as object pronouns appearing before the verb.

regards, Scott

MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Je suis d'accord avec vous, Scott. "La robe" n'est pas un  pronom, mais un nom. 

Donc, il y doigt être un autre cas, juste pour faire parfaitement claire que lors un COD (complément d'objet direct) précède le verbe, il ne fait rien s'il est un nom ou un pronom - la participe passé doigt s'accorder avec le COD.

Doubt in the concept

Bonjour Madame,

In the sentence "Hier,quelle robe as-tu portée pour la soirée?"

Why has the accord 'e' been added in the past participle 'porté'

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MonicaC1Kwiziq community member

I am still confused with past participles agreement with the verbs. e.g. Les fleurs que j'ai senties.

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

The rule is: if the COD comes before the participle, then you need to agree the participle.

Les fleurs -- COD (feminine, plural)
que -- relative pronoun, referring to "les fleurs"
je -- subject
ai -- auxiliary verb (form of avoir)
senties -- participle of sentir.

Since "que" comes before "senties", the participle needs to match feminine, plural.

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Some may rightly argue that "que" is the COD. That doesn't change the result, though, because "les fleurs" determine ultimately the matching of the participle. 
MonicaC1Kwiziq community member
Merci Chris pour votre response. Je comprends maintenant.

I am still confused with past participles agreement with the verbs. e.g. Les fleurs que j'ai senties.

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StewartC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Examples showing agreement without an object pronoun.

In the Weekend Challenge: 'My plan for the day of the exam' one of the translations required is 'that I'll have chosen the day before'. 

The answes given are: 

'que j'aurai choisiS la veille'  OR 'que j'aurai sélectionnéS la veille'

There is no object pronoun in either of these answers, so why are the past participles 'choisi' and 'sélectionné' writen with an S added for agreement?

Thank you

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Stewart, it all hinges on the little pronoun "que". It is the stand in for the direct object in the relative clause. If it refers to a masculine noun in plural, you would need to have agreement between it and the participles.

I am not sure of the entire sentence, but when you check, you'll find that "que" refers to a masuline noun in plural.

-- Chris.

StewartC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks Chris, I now see that the use of 'que' was in the lesson after all!

Examples showing agreement without an object pronoun.

In the Weekend Challenge: 'My plan for the day of the exam' one of the translations required is 'that I'll have chosen the day before'. 

The answes given are: 

'que j'aurai choisiS la veille'  OR 'que j'aurai sélectionnéS la veille'

There is no object pronoun in either of these answers, so why are the past participles 'choisi' and 'sélectionné' writen with an S added for agreement?

Thank you

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AlexA0Kwiziq community member

tu les as vus

"tu les as vus"  cant it also be as tu les vus 
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Alex,

It  could only be 'Les as-tu vus?" or 'Est-ce que tu les as vus?

as an alternative.

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Akex,

"As-tu les vus" is an inverted question and means "Did you see them?"

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Alex asked:View original

tu les as vus

"tu les as vus"  cant it also be as tu les vus 

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AnnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Aren't there some past participles that don't ever agree? In 501 verbs, some are listed with their pp showing possible agreement and some not.

Eg réveillé(e)(s) but réussi
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Ann,

In the case of true 'intransitive'  verbs which by definition don't have an object , the past participle will not agree .

I am not sure that a list would help with this.

(N.B. some verbs can be both intransitive and transitive like servir, commencer ...)

Impersonal verbs as in expressions like 'il faut' or 'il y a' will always be become 'il a fallu' and  'il y a eu'.

There is a group of verbs however which is interesting like coûter, valoir, peser, mesuser, courir...which express measure, quantity and duration  will be 'invariable' with 'avoir' even if the object precedes the verbs because the object is a quantity and answers to the question 'combien' and not 'quoi'.

e.g. 

Les millions d'euros que cette réparation nous a coûté...

Les kilos que ce paquet a pesé... 

Les heures que j'ai couru...

Hope this helps!

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Ann,

no, in fact, all past participles follow the rules explained in the lesson. I am not aware of some verbs which wouldn't follow it.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

AnnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Yes, thanks!

Aren't there some past participles that don't ever agree? In 501 verbs, some are listed with their pp showing possible agreement and some not.

Eg réveillé(e)(s) but réussi

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MinnaC1Kwiziq community member

Bonjour,

Asked 2 years ago
MinnaC1Kwiziq community member
Sorry, accidentally pressed enter :D Anyhow, I was wondering about a particular sentence : "Ils se sont lavé les mains." Does "lavé" not agree with "les mains" because the COI is before the COD? I didn't find a sentence like this in the lesson so I figured I'd ask. Merci! :)
CecileC1Kwiziq community member
There is no agreement when something other than the person(s) is having the action of the verb done to them. So, Ils se sont lavés has an agreement because ‘they are washing themselves' (therefore, the reflexive pronoun ‘themselves’ se is the direct object which requires an agreement) but Ils se sont lavé les mains has no agreement because 'They're washing their hands' (the hands are now the direct object, ‘themselves’ se has become the indirect object pronoun and doesn’t require an agreement). 

Bonjour,

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MeghnaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Vu et regarde

When does one use either or the other? In the examples/quizzes - les fleurs uses voir( vues) and les films goes with regarder.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Meghna ! The difference between "voir" and "regarder" is the same as between "to see" and "to watch". "Tu as regardé ce film ?" (Have you watched that film?) "Tu as vu ce film ?" (Have you seen that film?) "Tu as vu ces fleurs ?" (Have you seen these flowers?) "J'ai regardé les fleurs de mon jardin." (I watched the flowers in my garden.) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Vu et regarde

When does one use either or the other? In the examples/quizzes - les fleurs uses voir( vues) and les films goes with regarder.

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KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Laura, is there a quiz for this?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Kevin, At Kwiziq, kwizzes are created dynamically based on the lessons in your StudyPlan and/or Notebook. If the lesson isn't in your StudyPlan, you can add it to your Notebook and then click the kwiz button.

Laura, is there a quiz for this?

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SylviaB1Kwiziq community member

Confused with passé composé & the infinatif (the A sound)

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Sylvia, If you're asking whether e.g., aller and allé are pronounced differently - they're not.

Confused with passé composé & the infinatif (the A sound)

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Susan C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

It's always "que," and not "qui" when referring to a person or persons?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member

Bonjour Susan,

No. You need the relative pronoun que when it's serving as the direct object, but qui when it's serving as the subject. All of the examples in this lesson happen to need the direct object.

See these lessons for more info:

Que = Whom, which, that (relative pronouns)%20">Relative pronoun que

Qui = Who, which, that (relative pronouns)">Relative pronoun qui

Susan C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci, Laura!

It's always "que," and not "qui" when referring to a person or persons?

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