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Forming La Voix Passive with simple tenses (passive voice)

In English, an active sentence is turned into a passive one (the Passive voice) as follows:

The cat eats the mouse.    ->    The mouse is eaten by the cat.

Look at passive sentences in French, conjugated in simple tenses (Le Présent, Le Futur, L'Imparfait, Le Conditionnel Présent, Le Passé Simple):

La souris est mangée par le chat.
The mouse is eaten by the cat.

Tu seras applaudi par tes collègues.
You will be applauded by your colleagues.

Les étudiants étaient accueillis par le directeur tous les ans.
The students were welcomed by the headteacher every year.

Marie serait déçue par cette conclusion.
Marie would be disappointed by this conclusion.

Le chevalier fut amené devant le roi de cette contrée par les gardes.
The knight was brought before the king of this land by the guards.

 

Notice that just like in English, the pattern is as follows:

- The object becomes the subject

- We use the auxiliary être in one of the simple tenses, followed by the past participle of the verb

- We use the preposition par to introduce the complement.

Note that the past participle agrees with the subject of the auxiliary être.

 

In order to turn a sentence from active to passive voice, the tense of the auxiliary être must be the same as the tense of the main verb of the active sentence. For example:

Mes amis regardent les oiseaux.     ->  Les oiseaux sont regardés par mes amis.
                      Présent                                               Présent

Mon chien regardait les voitures.     ->   Les voitures étaient regardées par mon chien.
              Imparfait                                                Imparfait

Les enfants suivront le guide.     ->    Le guide sera suivi par les enfants. 
                  Futur                                          Futur

 

See also  Forming La Voix Passive with compound tenses (passive voice) 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Marie serait déçue par cette conclusion.
Marie would be disappointed by this conclusion.


Les étudiants étaient accueillis par le directeur tous les ans.
The students were welcomed by the headteacher every year.


Le chevalier fut amené devant le roi de cette contrée par les gardes.
The knight was brought before the king of this land by the guards.


La souris est mangée par le chat.
The mouse is eaten by the cat.


Tu seras applaudi par tes collègues.
You will be applauded by your colleagues.


Q&A

skylar

Kwiziq community member

29 November 2017

1 reply

Hers or someone else's cat

In the context of this statement one assumes Marie is caressing her own cat yet when put in the passive voice it could read as though the cat belongs to someone else...maybe not a great example

Ron

Kwiziq community member

29 November 2017

29/11/17

Bonjour Skylar,
I am in agreement with you on the voix passive form for this phrase. It does not define precisely whose cat it is. Perhaps something like:
Le chat de Marie or something similar since in the original locution, it clearly is Marie's cat that she is caressing.
However, I am uncertain exactly how to express that in French that Marie was caressing her own cat. Perhaps Aurélie or Laura can help out here.

Nancy

Kwiziq community member

3 September 2017

1 reply

Why the imparfait and not the passé composé?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

3 September 2017

3/09/17

Bonjour Nancy,
First let's look at the notes in the lesson:
In order to turn a sentence from active to passive voice, the tense of the auxiliary être must be the same as the tense of the main verb of the active sentence. For example:
Mes amis regardent les oiseaux. -> Les oiseaux sont regardés par mes amis.
Présent Présent
Mon chien regardait les voitures. -> Les voitures étaient regardées par mon chien.
Imparfait Imparfait
Les enfants suivront le guide. -> Le guide sera suivi par les enfants.
Futur Futur
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As can bee seen from the lesson and the examples, the tense of the verb will be the same in the passive voice phrase as in the original phrase.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now let's look at forming the passive voice with compound tenses:
*In order to turn a sentence from active to passive voice, the tense of the auxiliary être must be the same as the tense of the main verb of the active sentence.
For example:
Mes amis ont regardé les oiseaux. -> Les oiseaux ont été regardés par mes amis.
Passé Composé Passé Composé
Mon chien avait regardé les voitures. -> Les voitures avaient été regardées par mon chien.
Plus-que-Parfait Plus-que-Parfait
Les enfants auront suivi le guide. -> Le guide aura été suivi par les enfants.
Futur Antérieur Futur Antérieur
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Again the same rule as above applies, that is, the tense or mood of the original phrase is kept
in the passive voice phrase. So, to say this another way, no matter the tense or mood in the primary phrase, it dictates the tense or mood in the second, the passive voice phrase.
I hope this clarifies this somewhat for you
Bonne chance et j'espère que cela vous aidera.


Tom

Kwiziq community member

17 July 2017

1 reply

"Followed by" is habitually rendered as "suivi de". Does the

"de" always change to "par" in the passive construction? If so, this is worth spelling out in the lesson.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2017

23/07/17

Bonjour Tom,
That is correct in the use of the passive voice suivi de would change to suivi par.
Sylvie a été suivi par un chien.
Bonne chance,

Umi

Kwiziq community member

19 May 2017

3 replies

La voix passive with compound tenses vs simple tenses

Umi

Kwiziq community member

19 May 2017

19/05/17

I am confused.
I've been studying la voix passive, however, I encountered something that I do not understand. Please explain.
On the lesson for la voix passive with simple tenses, there is a sample: The students were welcomed by the headteacher every year. In French, les étudiants étaient accueillis par le directeur tous les ans.
And the quiz I did, there is a sentence: The students were welcomed by the headteacher this morning. Because there was no "étaient", I chose "Les étudiants ont été accueillis par le directeur ce matin.
Which is correct? les étudiants étaient accueills OR les étudiants ont été accueillis??
Merci beaucoup.
umi

Chris

Kwiziq community member

22 May 2017

22/05/17

I'll give it a try at explaining it:

In the sentence, where the students were welcomed every year, this relates to a repeated action in the past and therefore merits the imparfait tense. Hence, étaient accueillis.

In the quiz, where the students were only welcomed once this morning, the use of the perfect tense is indicated since it is only a one-time occurence. Hence, ont été accueillis.

-- Chris.

Umi

Kwiziq community member

24 May 2017

24/05/17

Dear Chris,

Thank you very much for your input! Yes, what you wrote makes sense!!!!

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