I remember when Mr. Chadwick, my French teacher at Culver Military Academy, told me that in the past tense the past participle agreed with any preceding direct object pronoun. I remember the ferocity with which I set out to memorize that rule. It didn’t help that the terms were foreign to me, but I reasoned that it was indeed a foreign language.
Weeks later, through a sufficient amount of worksheets, I was able to fully grasp the idea about past participles but then Mr. Chadwick, a truly English gentleman who wore tweed even in hot weather, hit me with the être agreement rule. My right brain dominant mind could not handle that one.
I had already learned one rule about participles. Why did I have to learn another. And in this case it was sixteen verbs that could all fit into a house and the agreement was with the subject and not the object. Because it was a different verb. That wrecked my self confidence and I thought I would never learn French but deep down I knew I had to – I just had to.
In the end it all worked out, though, because I was placed in a French 102 class when I arrived at Washington U. in St. Louis after my four years of study with Mr. Chadwick. I was proud of myself that I was not placed into a beginning class.