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French Language French Grammar: Agreement of the past participle when using “avoir” with a preceding direct object

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Agreement of the past participle with the use of the auxiliary "avoir" and a direct object which precedes.

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Definitions[edit | edit source]

Subject-verb agreement[edit | edit source]

The agreement in French (the agreement) is the way to choose the correct ending for verbs in terms of grammatical persons, gender and number, depending on their subject.

Past participle[edit | edit source]

The past participle is a verb form with several roles. It’s essential in the creation of compound verb tenses/moods and the passive voice, and it can also be used as an adjective. The French past participle usually ends -é, -i, or -u, and is equivalent to -ed or -en in English.

French Auxilaries[edit | edit source]

There are only 2 auxiliaries in French: "avoir" or "être". As "avoir", "être" is used to form compound tenses for some verbs.

Compound Tenses[edit | edit source]

Conjugations for the different French verb tenses and moods can be divided into 2 categories:

  • simple and compound.

Simple tenses and moods have only 1 part (e.g., "je mange") whereas compound tenses and moods have 2 (e.g., "j'ai mangé").

Agreement of the past participle with the use of the auxiliary "avoir" and a direct object which precedes: 3 cases[edit | edit source]

There are 3 cases where the past participle agrees with the preceding direct object in compound tenses that use the auxiliary "avoir":

  1. When the direct object above is an unstressed pronoun. For example: "le", "la", "les", "me", "te" etc. "Je les ai vus" (I saw them).
  2. When the preceding direct object is at the start of a relative clause: for example: "La lettre que j'ai écrite" (The letter which I wrote).
  3. in questions, when the direct object has been moved before the past participle, for example: "Quelle lettre a-t-il écrite ?" (What letter did he write?) or " Combien de lettres a-t-il lues?" (How many letters did he read?).

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