I can't figure out why here in my first sentence le participe passé agrees with les violonistes, but in the second it doesn't agree with les airs. I thought it should agree in both cases, since the COD is placed before the verb. What am I not seeing?

1) Les violonistes que j'ai entendus jouer sont habiles.

2) Les airs que j'ai entendu jouer étaient mélancoliques.


1 Answer 1


This is a tricky one: the past participle doesn't agree in the second sentence because the complement isn't doing the action defined by the infinitive. For example, following the same principle, you should write:

Les pièces (de théâtre) que j'ai vu jouer


Les pièces que j'ai vues jouer


  • @LPH thanks for fixing my English :-) I knew something was wrong as I was writing it but couldn't put my finger on it :-)
    – Laurent S.
    May 25, 2019 at 19:00
  • As far as the principle goes it's perfect, resolved; when it comes to the syntax I'm less sure this type of sentence is quite legitimate. There is no problem when a subject for the infinitive is added: "Les airs que j'ai entendu les musiciens jouer étaient mélancoliques."; there is no doubt that the COD is "musician" or from another point of view the infinitive clause. However, when that COD/SUJET is removed, there is a transitive verb without an object (voir) and you might be groping for one (that leading you to "que") and no subject for the infinitive; all of that is very disturbing.
    – LPH
    May 25, 2019 at 19:32

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