French Perfect Participle ~ Passé composé du participe présent

Introduction to the French perfect participle

Getting dressed
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The French perfect participle or past gerund is used to describe either a condition existing in the past or an action that took place right before another action. It is equivalent to "having + past participle" in English, but as this construction can be somewhat awkward, it's often reworded. The perfect participle is similar to the construction après + past infinitive:

   Ayant fait mes devoirs, j'ai regardé la télé. (Après avoir fait mes devoirs...)
   Having finished my homework, I watched TV.

/ Since I had finished my homework.... / After finishing my homework....

   Étant partie très tôt, elle a dû conduire seule. (Après être partie très tôt...)
   Having left very early, she had to drive alone. / Because she left very early....

However, unlike the past infinitive, the perfect participle can have a different subject than the main clause:

   Ses enfants ayant grandi, Chantal est rentrée à l'école.
   Her kids grown, Chantal went back to school. / Her kids having grown...

   Mon père étant parti, j'ai pleuré.
   My father gone, I cried. / My father having left...

Word order with the perfect participle

As with the other compound tenses, object and adverbial pronouns precede the auxiliary verb of the perfect participle:

   T'ayant vu, j'ai souri.
   Having seen you, I smiled.

   Lui ayant donné le livre, je suis parti.
   Having given him the book, I left. / After I gave him the book...

And negative adverbs surround auxiliary verbs:

   N'ayant pas étudié, elle a raté l'examen.


   Not having studied, she failed the test. / Since she didn't study...

   Ne t'ayant pas vu, j'ai demandé à Pierre.
   Not having seen you, I asked Pierre. / Since I didn't see you...

French Perfect Participle Conjugations

The perfect participle is a compound conjugation, which means it has two parts:

  1. present participle of the auxiliary verb (either avoir or être)
  1. past participle of the main verb

Note: Like all French compound conjugations, the perfect participle may be subject to grammatical agreement:

  • When the auxiliary verb is être, the past participle must agree with the subject
  • When the auxiliary verb is avoir, the past participle may have to agree with its direct object
parlerchoisirvendre
ayant parléayant choisiayant vendu
 
allersortirdescendre
étant allé(e)(s)étant sorti(e)(s)étant descendu(e)(s)
 
se taires'évanouirse souvenir
s'étant tu(e)(s)s'étant évanoui(e)(s)s'étant souvenu(e)(s)
 
Since the auxiliary verb is in an impersonal mood, the perfect participle is the same conjugation for all subjects.
 
Ayant terminé, je...Having finished, I...
Ayant terminé, nous...Having finished, we...
 
However, you do need to follow the normal rules of agreement:
 
Étant sortis, nous...Having gone out, we...
N'ayant pas vu Anne, je l'ai appelée.Not having seen Anne, I called her.
 
And pronominal verbs still need a reflexive pronoun that agrees with the subject.
 
M'étant habillé, je...Having gotten dressed, I...
Vous étant levés, vous...Having gotten up, you...
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Lawless, Laura K. "French Perfect Participle ~ Passé composé du participe présent." ThoughtCo, Apr. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/french-perfect-participle-1368904. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, April 3). French Perfect Participle ~ Passé composé du participe présent. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-perfect-participle-1368904 Lawless, Laura K. "French Perfect Participle ~ Passé composé du participe présent." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-perfect-participle-1368904 (accessed January 22, 2018).