French Verbs Are Accessible

Passé Composé-

Part 4: Pronominal Verbs -

In this module we will study the passé composé of verbs like s'amuser (to have a good time), se battre (to fight), se lever (to get up), and se demander (to wonder). They are called pronominal verbs and are explained in detail in another module.

All pronominal verbs use the helping verb être in the passé composé, and it is placed right after the reflexive pronoun. To conjugate a pronominal verb in the passé composé, use the present tense of être and the participle of the verb you want to conjugate. Here are a few examples: elle s'est levée (she got up), ils se sont battus (they fought), nous nous sommes amusés (we had a good time), and elles se sont souvenues (they remembered).

Following is a brief explanation of the agreement of past participles with pronominal verbs.

Kind of Verb- How Does The Past Participle Agree?- Examples-

The past participle agrees with a preceding direct object.

In most instances, the reflexive pronoun is a preceding direct object that refers to the subject. That is why some textbooks tell you that the past participle of a reflexive verb agrees with the subject.

Be careful, this is not always true because once in a while the reflexive pronoun is an indirect object. When you say elle s'est coupée (she cut herself), the reflexive pronoun is indeed a direct object. However, in the sentence elle s'est coupé le doigt (she cut her finger), the direct object is doigt; it follows the verb, and the reflexive pronoun functions like an indirect object.-

Elle s'est amuséE. (Note the E that is added.)

Ils se sont levéS. (Note the S that is added.)

Il s'est réveillé.
(Nothing needs to be added.)-

Reciprocal- The past participle agrees with a preceding direct object.-

Ils se sont battuS. (Note the S that is added.)

Nous nous sommes aiméS. (Note the S that is added.)-

Idiomatically Pronominal- The past participle agrees with the subject.-

Elles se sont souvenuES.
(Note the E S that are added.)

Nous nous sommes aperçuS. (Note the S that is added.)-