Beginner / Grammar / intermediate

Birds In Their Little Nests Agree – Or Not


This post will be about compound verbs – aka le Passé composé, le Plus-que-parfait, le Conditionnel passé and the rest of the double-verb gang… – and whether they should agree or not with their neighbors.

Consider the following sentences:

Elle a étudié sa leçon. /ella ay tü dyay sal son/ LISTEN
She studied her lesson.

Les oiseaux  ont chanté. /lezwa zoe on sean tay/ LISTEN
The birds sang /have sung.

.

See how the second part of the verb remains the same, even as the subject changes?

.

il a étudié sa leçonLISTEN

.

elle a étudiéLISTEN

.

l'oiseau a chantéLISTEN

.

oiseauLISTEN

.

No matter what, the participle (that is the second part of the verb: étudié, chanté…) remains intact. Here is more:

Nous n’avons pas mangé. /noona von paw monjay/ LISTEN
We haven’t eaten / We didn’t eat.

Elles ont beaucoup marché. /elzon bow coup marshay/ LISTEN
They walked a lot.

.

Now compare with the following sentences:

.

Il est allé. /eel ett al ay/ LISTEN
He went.

il est allé

.

Elle est allée. /el ett al ay/ LISTEN
She went.

elle est allée

.

What is going on here?

Look again:

.

l'oiseau est tombéLISTEN

.

les oiseaux sont tombésLISTEN

.

Tell me, why would we have:

.

oiseauLISTEN

.

… and then:

.

les oiseaux sont tombésLISTEN

.

?

That is because the rule goes like this: if the verb in the past is conjugated with être, then the second part agrees. Agrees with whom? With the subject, that is the one doing the action:

.

nous nous sommes rencontrésLISTEN

.

nous sommes partisLISTEN

.

Ils sont partis nous sommes restéesLISTEN

.

Vous êtes revenusLISTEN

When conjugated with avoir, the participle NEVER agrees with the SUBJECT:

nous avons voyagéLISTEN

.

Over To You!

.

Try these sentences:

Elle a mangé le gâteau1

.

Elle a mangé le gâteau2

Try again:

Ils sont devenus intelligents1

.

Ils sont devenus intelligents2

One more:

Monsieur, vous avez oublié1

.

Monsieur, vous avez oublié2

Now that you are a pro, continue on to Part 2.

(Yes, unfortunately there is more to it).

(It’s FRENCH. What did you expect?)

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© Ouicestca 2013, tous droits réservés.

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5 thoughts on “Birds In Their Little Nests Agree – Or Not

  1. Thank you so much for a blog like this. I like your very relaxed attitude in explaining each lesson. It makes me feel that it’s not so difficult. Je suis contente de vous rencontrer. Merçi bien et n’arretez pas!

  2. Pingback: Birds In Their Little Nests Agree – Or Not (2) | Oui, c'est ça!

  3. I believe this is among the most significant info for me.

    And i am glad studying your article. However wanna commentary on few common
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