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Être agreements in Passé Composé with a singular formal vous?


Passé Composé question:

In passé composé, if we have vous with an être verb, and vous is refering to a single person formally, is the agreement plural (with an es/s) because we are using vous? or is the agreement singular (nothing/e) because the subject is singular.

In other words:

You arrived (where you is a queen, for example)

Is this a. “Vous êtes arrivée”

Or b. “Vous êtes arrivées”


Edit: i just edited the original the question because it seems I wrote nous several times when I meant to write vous (in my head), oops!!! Though thanks for all the answers!

April 22, 2018


  • 2281

From what I've learned...

"vous" can refer to: 1) multiple persons informally, 2) one person formally, 3) multiple persons formally.

  • Vous êtes arrivé --- you speak formally to one single male person

  • Vous êtes arrivée --- you speak formally to one single female person

  • Vous êtes arrivés --- you speak either formally or informally to multiple persons (all male or both male and female)

  • Vous êtes arrivées --- you speak either formally or informally to multiple female persons

Only "vous" is used for formal addressing. "nous" is not, just like "je" is not either. I won't address formally to myself even if I were a king, right? You would ask me "Your Highness, did you like the soup?", but I won't reply with "My Highness like it." except if I would want to mock myself.

So, there is no "Nous sommes arrivé" or "Nous sommes arrivée". There are only:

  • Nous sommes arrivés --- you speak about multiple persons (all male or both male and female), you being one of them

  • Nous sommes arrivées --- you speak about multiple female persons, you being one of them


Edit: oops, I wrote nous in the question when I meant vous (in my head). Thanks for answering so thouroughly!

In my question I was specifically asking about and referring to 2) one person formally.

However, since you brought up question of singular nous: it does exist, though it is only for very formal specific situations. (Like royalty or possible the pope)

If you were a queen addressing yourself you might in fact use nous, just as English has a royal we. If you were a Queen addressing her subjects, I believe you could use the ‘nous de majesté’ and in this case, I also wonder what the agreement would be.



I have also wondered about this. I have noticed that Duo keeps the agreement singular, so that's how I have proceeded with the answers: Vous etes arrivee. So, I hope this is correct.

  • 2281

Thanks for telling me about the singular "nous"!

We* have never been in very formal specific situations. As one can see, we are rather a tramp. We could at most relate to the king of the neighborhood. If at some point we would realize that we started to address ourselves formally, we would seriously consider having our head checked.

*https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/nous_de_modestie (link from your link; though I feel this other "we" doesn't become me either)



Très interessant! I did not know about the ‘nous de modestie’, that seems like it might get confusing indeed, following the same rules as the royal nous.. but having almost the opposite meaning. Alas, ‘We’ will probably not be adressing our royal subjects anytime soon either, but we can only daydream about attending elaborate balls at Versailles of times gone by, curtsies.



Agreement has to be in gender and number.

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