Agreement with Direct Object Pronouns in the Passé Composé
French verbs are conjugated in the passé composé either with avoir or être as their auxiliary verbs.
When using être as an auxiliary verb, past participles need to agree with their subjects in number and gender.
When using avoir as an auxiliary verb, you usually don’t need to make agreement with the subject. However, there is a specific time when avoir verbs require agreement, and that is when there is a direct object or direct object pronoun that precedes the past participle.
This rule only applies to direct objects, and not to other types of pronouns such as indirect object pronouns (lui / leur) and adverbial pronouns (y / en).
- Je vais laver les chaises que tu as laissées dans le jardin.
- I am going to wash the chairs that you left in the garden.
- Which ones?
- Celles que tu as laissées dans le jardin hier soir.
- The ones that you left in the garden last night.
- Ne t’inquiète pas, je les ai déjà lavées.
- Don’t worry, I have already washed them.
Don’t make agreement when avoir is the auxiliary verb in the following situations:
1. The direct object follows the verb:
J’ai laissé les chaises dans le jardin.
2. Don’t make agreement with using the causative faire construction:
Les chaises que j’ai fait laver sont dans le jardin.
If you want a very comprehensive passé composé quiz using both être and avoir as auxiliary verbs, with and without agreement, try out this one. This is not a beginner level quiz.