The past participle, called le participe passé in French, is very similar in French and English. The French past participle usually ends in -é, -i, or -u, while its English equivalent usually ends in -ed or -en. The past participle has three main uses in French:
1. With an auxiliary verb, the past participle forms compound tenses such as the passé composé:
J'ai travaillé hier.
I worked yesterday.
Il est arrivé à midi.
He arrived at noon.
2. With être, the past participle is used to conjugate the French passive voice.
Le ménage est fait tous les jours.
The housework is done every day.
Ce film sera suivi d'une discussion.
This movie will be followed by a discussion.
3. Standing alone or with être, the French past participle may be an adjective. Note that in some instances, the participe passé must be translated by the English present participle.
Fatigué, je suis rentré à minuit.
Tired, I went home at midnight.
Le garçon déçu a pleuré.
The disappointed boy cried.
Le chien assis sur le canapé est mignon.
The dog sitting (seated) on the couch is cute.
Je ne vois pas d'homme agenouillé.
I don't see a kneeling man.
Ce livre est écrit en espagnol.
This book is written in Spanish.
Sais-tu si le débat est terminé ?
Do you know if the debate is finished?
When used in the passive voice or as an adjective, the past participle needs to agree in gender and number with the word it modifies, following the normal rules of adjective agreement. In the compound tenses, it may or may not need to agree, depending on certain factors - learn more.
La voiture est lavée par mon fils.
The car is washed by my son.
Les solutions proposées sont parfaites.
The proposed solutions are perfect.
Elles sont allées à la banque.
They went to the bank.
Où est Lise ? Je l'ai vue ce matin.
Where is Lise? I saw her this morning.
Go on to page 2 to learn how to conjugate the past participle.
Past participles quiz