Reflexive Verbs and Compound Tenses

In compound tenses like the passé composé, reflexive verbs use être as their helping (auxiliary) verb. The reflexive pronoun remains before the conjugated helping form of être, as follows:

  • Je me suis lavé(e). (I washed myself.)
  • Tu t'es préparé(e). (You didn't get ready.)
  • Il s'est rasé. (He shaved.)
  • Elle s'est couchée. (Didn't she go to bed?)
  • Nous nous sommes peigné(e)s. (We combed our hair.)
  • Vous vous êtes coiffé(e)(s). (You didn't do your hair.)
  • Ils se sont impatientés. (They became impatient.)
  • Elles se sont maquillées. (They put on their makeup.)

When the reflexive pronoun is used as a direct object, as in “Whom did they wash? Themselves! ” the past participle agrees with the reflexive pronoun: Ils se sont lavés. (They washed themselves.)

When the reflexive pronoun is used as an indirect object (“To/for whom did they wash something? For themselves!”), the past participle shows no agreement: Ils se sont lavé la figure. (They washed their faces.)