Appendix:French past participles

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French verbs, much like other Romance languages, have past participles that combine with auxiliary verbs to describe events that happened (usually once) in the past.

Formation of the past participle[edit]

Main appendix: French verbs

Verbs of the first group (ending -er) have past participles ending in -é. Verbs of the second group (ending -ir) have past participles ending in -i. The third group is made up of all the verbs that are not in the first or second groups, and for this reason there is no prevailing pattern for the past participles. Some patterns include:

Other verbs include highly irregular, defective or impersonal ones. See Appendix:French verbs for more information.

Different uses of the past participle[edit]

  • To construct the passé composé (perfect tense), in conjunction with avoir or être.
    J'ai joué avec ma fille (I played with my daughter)
  • In passive constructions, using être
    Un garçon a été gravement blessé par une voiture (a boy was badly hurt by a car)
  • As adjectives
    J'ai adoré son visage rougi (I loved his reddened face)

Agreement[edit]

French past participles can agree with their grammatical subject under certain circumstances. There is agreement in the form of -e for the feminine, -es for the feminine plural and -s for the masculine plural when:

  • Used as an adjective
    Une époque oubliée
  • The direct object of the verb preceeds it, either as an explicit noun or a pronoun.
    J'ai bien aimé la lettre que j'ai reçue. Je l'ai lue trois fois (I really like the letter I got. I've read it three times)
  • Note in this example, aimé does not agree as it preceeds the verb, while reçu (recevoir) and lu (lire) both come after the verb. This includes reflexive verbs with the subject as a direct object (elle s'est lavée).
  • Any verb that takes être as an auxiliary to form the passé composé
    Elle est venue, elle est arrivée vers 11h (she's here, she arrived about 11am)


There is no agreement in the following cases

  • The direct object follows the verb, or there is no direct object
  • J'ai aimé la lettre
  • J'ai bien ri
  • A reflexive verb used intransitively
    Elle se sont donné des vêtements (they gave (to) each other some clothes)
  • A reflexive verb with a second direct object
  • Je me suis cassé la cheville (I broke my ankle)

See also[edit]