The agreement of the past participle of pronominal verbs

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The agreement of the past participle of pronominal verbs

Reminder: In compound tenses (like the passé composé), the past participle must agree with the subject if être is used as an auxiliary.
Victor et Marcel sont allés au cinéma. Victor and Marcel went to the movies.
Pronominal verbs (se lever, se voir, s’enfuir, etc.) all use être as an auxiliary verb, but their agreement rules are slightly more complicated. It mostly depends on the role of the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous, se).
•  If the reflexive pronoun is a direct object or COD (i.e. if it answers qui ? or quoi ? questions), then the past participle agrees with the reflexive pronoun.
Elle s’est coupée. She cut herself (Who/what did she cut? → se = elle)
Nous nous sommes lavés. We washed ourselves (Who/what did we wash? → nous)
•  If the reflexive pronoun is an indirect object or COI (i.e. if it answers à qui ?, à quoi ?, pour qui ?, pour quoi ?, etc. type questions) or a noun complement (replying to de qui ? and de quoi ? questions), there is no agreement with the reflexive pronoun.
Exception: If there is a direct object COD before the verb then the past participle agrees with the COD.
Elle s’est coupé le doigt. She cut her finger. (Elle a coupé le doigt de qui ? Whose finger did she cut?→ de se = d’elle)
Ils se sont parlé. They spoke to each other. (Ils ont parlé à qui ? Who did they speak to? → à se = à eux)
Les vacances qu’ils se sont offertes. The holidays that they bought themselves. (Se is a COI but here the COD is les vacances (Ils se sont offert quoi ? What did they buy themselves? → les vacances) which is placed before → therefore the past participle agrees with les vacances.)
•  If the reflexive pronoun has no function (i.e. the verb only exists in a pronominal form), the past participle agrees with the subject.
Elles se sont enfuies. They ran away, fled.
Ils se sont souvenus de leurs vacances. They remembered their holidays.
Exceptions: The past participles of se rire de (to laugh at), and se plaire à (to take pleasure in) don’t take any agreement.
Ils se sont plu à ignorer Victor. They took pleasure in ignoring Victor.
Ils se sont ri de Victor. They laughed at Victor.

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