French grammatical agreement

Grammatical agreement refers to how certain parts of speech change form, usually by taking on one or more letters, in order to correspond in gender and number to another word or phrase.

There are 5 main types of French agreement.

1. Agreement of articles

All three types of French articles have different forms for masculine, feminine, and plural.

  • un homme, une femme, des gens - a man, a woman, some people
  • le garçon, la fille, les enfants - the boy, the girl, the children
  • du pain, de la salade, des épinards - bread, salad, spinach

2. Agreement of adjectives

Most adjectives have different forms for masculine / feminine / singular / plural.

  • un homme intelligent - an intelligent man
  • une femme intelligente - an intelligent woman
  • des garçons intelligents - intelligent boys
  • des filles intelligentes - intelligent girls

3. Agreement of nouns

Most nouns have singular and plural forms. Nouns referring to people or animals often have masculine and feminine forms as well.

  • un étudiant - male student
  • une étudiante - female student
  • des étudiants - male students
  • des étudiantes - female students

4. Agreement of pronouns

Some pronouns have masculine / feminine / singular / plural forms.

  • il - he
  • elle - she
  • ils - they (all male or mixed)
  • elles - they (all female)

5. Agreement of past participles

In the compound tenses and moods, the past participles of être verbs have to agree with their subjects.

  • Il est parti. - He left.
  • Elle est partie. - She left.
  • Ils sont partis. - They (male or mixed) left.
  • Elles sont parties. - They (female) left.

When avoir verbs are preceded by a direct object, their past participles agree with it.

  • Le livre que j'ai acheté - The book I bought
  • La chaise que j'ai achetée - The chair I bought
  • Les livres que j'ai achetés - The books I bought
  • Les chaises que j'ai achetées - The chairs I bought
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