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French Language French Grammar: Subject verb agreement — Verb “être”

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Subject-verb agreement — verb “être”

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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.


Subject-verb Agreement with "être"[edit | edit source]

  • Mon problème était mes enfants, car je n'avais personne pour les garder

My problem was my children, for I had no-one to look after them


"C'est" or "Ce sont"[edit | edit source]

When "ce" is the subject of "être", there is a choice between using "c'est" or "ce sont".


Whereas most nouns and pronouns follow "c'est", as in the examples below:

  • C'est moi/nous (not "Ce sont nous/vous")
It's me/us/you/him/her
  • C'est le facteur
It's the postman


In written French, plural nouns and plural pronouns in the third person are meant to follow "ce sont":

  • Ce sont mes parents
It's my parents
  • Ce sont eux
It's them


However, most speakers use "c'est" in these days, as in the examples below:

  • C'est mes parents
It's my parents
  • C'est eux
It's them


Where numbers are involved, "c'est" is always used:

  • C'est 2 000 euros que je te dois
It's 2,000 euros that I owe you


The c'est/ce sont construction is often used with relative clauses, and it is important to remember that the verb in the relative clause agrees in person and number with the complement of c'est/ce sont:

  • C'est moi qui suis le moins grand
It's me who's the smallest
  • C'est nous qui sommes les demandeurs
We are the ones applicants
  • C'est vous qui avez pris mes lunettes
It's you who has taken my glasses
  • Ce sont elles qui sont parties
They are the ones who left


More information on the difference between "c'est" and "ce sont":

https://polyglotclub.com/wiki/Language/French/Grammar/%22C%27est%22-or-%22Ce-sont%22

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