- Usage of the Passive Voice
- Forming the Passive Voice
- The Agent in the Passive Voice
- Passive Voice in Different Tenses
Just like in English, there is a passive voice in French - le passif, or la voix passive. It's not challenging to grasp if you know some simple rules.
La fenêtre était fermée.
The window was closed.
Usage of the Passive Voice
Rule 1: In the active voice, who or what is executing an action is emphasized.
In the passive voice, we emphasize the person or thing that was affected by the action. We also use it when the subject of the sentence is not important or unknown.
Le livre a été déchiré.
The book was ripped.
(We don't know who ripped the book).
Pendant la visite, nous avons vu une cathédrale qui a été construite en 1675.
During the tour, we saw a cathedral that was built in 1675.
(It's not important who build the cathedral).
Forming the Passive Voice
Rule 2: The passive is formed by using the verb être + the past participle. In the passive, the past participle also agrees in gender and amount with the subject.
Le voyage est annulée.
The trip is cancelled.
The Agent in the Passive Voice
Rule 3: Sometimes the acting person is not mentioned. To mention the source of an action (the agent), the preposition "par" is used.
La maison est construite par un grand architecte.
The house was built by a great architect.
In the active, the same sentence would look like that:
Un grand architecte construit la maison.
A great architect build the house.
Passive Voice in Different Tenses
Rule 4: To use the passive in further tenses, the verb être simply has to be conjugated.
I was invited.
J'ai été invité.
I've been invited.
Je serai invité.
I will be invited.
Je serais invité.
I would be invited.
Translate: We wouldn't have been invited.