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, you  the past participle has to agree with this object.

CASE of the object pronouns

Look at these 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?

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

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.

CASE of the subordinate clause with que

Look at these 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.

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  -->  Les fleurs que j'ai senties      
--> que is repeating les fleurs and is the object of ai senti, so there is agreement)

 

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?


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.


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


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


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


Q&A

Monica

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2018

3 replies

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2018

16/10/18

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.

 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2018

16/10/18

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. 

Monica

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2018

17/10/18

Merci Chris pour votre response. Je comprends maintenant.

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

2 replies

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

31/07/18

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.

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

31/07/18

Thanks Chris, I now see that the use of 'que' was in the lesson after all!

Alex

Kwiziq community member

15 May 2018

2 replies

tu les as vus

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

15 May 2018

15/05/18

Hi Akex,

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

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

17 May 2018

17/05/18

Hi Alex,

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

as an alternative.

Hope this helps!

Ann

Kwiziq community member

7 May 2018

3 replies

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

8 May 2018

8/05/18

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).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

9 May 2018

9/05/18

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!

 

Ann

Kwiziq community member

9 May 2018

9/05/18

Yes, thanks!

Minna

Kwiziq community member

23 April 2017

1 reply

Bonjour,

Minna

Kwiziq community member

23 April 2017

23/04/17

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! :)

Meghna

Kwiziq community member

8 April 2017

1 reply

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.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 April 2017

10/04/17

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 !

Kevin

Kwiziq community member

21 September 2016

1 reply

Laura, is there a quiz for this?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

21 September 2016

21/09/16

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.

Sylvia

Kwiziq community member

12 September 2016

1 reply

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

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

12 September 2016

12/09/16

Bonjour Sylvia, If you're asking whether e.g., aller and allé are pronounced differently - they're not.

Susan

Kwiziq community member

28 August 2016

2 replies

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

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

1 September 2016

1/09/16

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:

Relative pronoun que

Relative pronoun qui

Susan

Kwiziq community member

2 September 2016

2/09/16

Merci, Laura!
Thinking...