FR: on a les prisonniers déchargé(s)


Senior Member
Dear friends
I have the following stanza in that poem I'm writing, and although it "feels" right, I'm not quite sure about the agreement in déchargé[s]. Does it stem from "on" as a plural concept, from the preceding direct object which I've located there as a stylistic device, or should it not be there anyway?

En temps utile on a les prisonniers déchargés, donc leurs vies dès lors transformées sont.

Merci à tous !

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  • Ah ! Big question ! :)
    The theory states that on is singular. Nevertheless, as it is often used to replace nous, plural is accepted.

    - Qu'est-ce que t'as fait, hier ?
    - Oh, mes soeurs et moi, on est allées au cinéma.
    Agnès E. said:
    - Qu'est-ce que t'as fait, hier ?
    - Oh, mes soeurs et moi, on est allées au cinéma.
    But then you use a different auxiliary here.
    Rex used "avoir".

    However, this doesn't simplify the problem.
    The rule with "avoir" says that the past participle agrees with the object when the object precedes it.
    But here the object precedes the past participle only for stylistic reasons. The rule doesn't say anything about this specific case. But I think you should do exactly as if there was no inversion. You would write
    On a déchargé les prisonniers
    So you should write
    On a les prisonniers déchargé.

    I'm not dead cert, though :)
    Quelles grammaires avez-vous consultées?
    Pas d'accord. S'il y avait exception à la règle, Bescherelle le préciserait.
    J'avais donc ne pas être sûr ;)
    Comme, en plus, je n'ai aucune grammaire consultée :confused:, je m'en remets à toi et à Bescherelle.
    Je pensais seulement qu'il était tout à fait possible que les grammaires n'aient pas prévu le cas d'une inversion poétique.

    Malgré tout, je trouve que ne pas faire l'accord permet d'établir sans ambiguité à l'intention du lecteur qu'il s'agit bien d'une inversion et non pas d'une autre construction avec un sens différent.
    Par exemple :
    De ce côté, on a les prisonniers déchargés et de ce côté les prisonniers chargés (dans le cas de prisonniers engagés dans une course cycliste, par exemple :)).
    Mes chers amis
    Thank you all for your answers, and please excuse me for being still just a little bit confused. Ignoring the stylistic placement of the CDO, there still remains the plural concept of "on": it was not just one, but all the masters who discharged their convicts. So do I still follow Agnès E. and keep déchargés, or does the use of avoir require it to stay in the singular?
    I think there are two question which are getting mixed up here. Since décharger is an 'avoir' verb, the singular/plural nature of 'on' has no effect on the past participle déchargé. You would not put an 's' on the end if, for example, it was 'ils ont déchargé', which is clearly plural, and nor should you with 'on a déchargé' however many people are represented by 'on'.

    As Agnès said, if used with an 'être' verb, 'on' can make the past participle plural ('on est allées', the same as if you say 'elles sont allées'. And as LV4-26 and Gil have said, the preceding direct object can make the past participle plural. But 'on' will not make it plural (because it's an avoir verb).
    Hi Rex,

    If it were
    On a déchargé les prisonniers
    you would leave it as is, i.e. déchargé without an [s] (because of "avoir" auxiliary and object following the main verb)

    As it is
    On a les prisonniers déchargé(s)
    don't know.
    Gil says you have to add an [s] (because object preceding the main verb), exactly as in les prisonniers que nous avons déchargés.

    Now I would avoid too many or too weird stylistic inversions. But as it is poetry, it's left to you.