The passive voice

The passive voice

Learning Objectives 

  • Understand the difference between the active and the passive voice
  • Be able to use the passive voice with “par” and “de”
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Key Words & Phrases

être + past participle of verb expressing the action (+ par / de)

Nos petits-enfants ont choisi notre maison de vacances.
Notre maison de vacances a été choisie par nos petits-enfants.

Le maire a fermé la bibliothèque en mars 2020.
La bibliothèque a été fermée en mars 2020.

Common verbs used with “de” in the passive

  • connaître
  • aimer / adorer / apprécier ≠ détester
  • respecter / admirer
  • accompagner
  • précéder ≠ suivre
  • décorer
  • couvrir / recouvrir

Les étudier détestent la voix passive.
La voix passive est détestée de tous les étudiants.

Une clôture entoure le parc.
Le parc est entouré d’une clôture.

Learn

Sactive vs passive voice (in English)

the passive voice

the passive voice

Lawless French: grammatical voices

Ressources Fle: active and passive forms

Talk in French: the passive voice

Watch

Learn French with Pascal: active and passive voices

OnParle: the passive voice

Learn French with Vincent: the passive voice

Read

Lingolia: the passive voice

Grammar Collins Dictionary: the passive voice

Cliffsnotes: the passive voice

Practice

To learn French: active or passive voice?

To learn French: reorganise sentences in the passive voice

To learn French: verbs in the passive voice

CoLanguage: practice the passive voice

Softschools: agreements in the passive voice

Languages Online: all tenses in the active and passive voice

Using one of the recommended resources to get writing feedback, respond to the prompt below.

  • Find out whether the sentences below are in the active or the passive voice and which tense is being used. Then, rewrite the sentences, changing the voice and using the correct tense – as per the example.

Example:

Ce traitement a changé ma vie.
This sentence is in the active voice, in the passé composé tense.
Turn it into the other voice: Ma vie a été changée par ce traitement.

  1. Le suspect a été arrêté par la police.
    This sentence is in the ________ voice, in the ________ tense.
    Turn it into the other voice:
  2. Notre employeur fournit nos repas.
    This sentence is in the ________ voice, in the ________ tense.
    Turn it into the other voice:
  3. Cette loi a été votée par le Parlement en 2013.
    This sentence is in the ________ voice, in the ________ tense.
    Turn it into the other voice:
  4. Le peuple français aurait exécuté Louis XVI en 1793.
    This sentence is in the ________ voice, in the ________ tense.
    Turn it into the other voice:
  5. Arsène Lupin avait volé tous les bijoux.
    This sentence is in the ________ voice, in the ________ tense.
    Turn it into the other voice:

Using one of the platforms for finding a tutor or language exchange partner, practice the speaking activities below.

Partner Speaking Exercise:

  • Ask your French-speaking partner to pick five items from the list below, one at a time. Then, make a sentence in the passive voice, explaining who invented/created etc. the item in question. You can use the passé composé or the past conditional.
  • Pay particular attention to your pronunciation!

Inventions & découvertes

  • Le braille – Louis Braille
  • Le soutien-gorge – Herminie Cadolle
  • Le Guide Michelin – Edouard et André Michelin
  • L’effet photovoltaïque – Edmond Becquerel

Films

  • Les Intouchables – Olivier Nakache et Éric Toledano
  • Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain – Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
  • Taken – Luc Besson

Livres

  • Le Petit Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
  • Le Comte de Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  • L’étranger – Albert Camus

Architecture

  • Le Palais de Versaille – Louis le Vau et Jules Hardouin Mansart
  • La Tour Eiffel – Gustave Eiffel
  • La Statue de la Liberté – Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi et Gustave Eiffel

Tableaux

  • La Mort de Marat – Jacque-Louis David
  • Le Radeau de la Méduse – Théodore Géricault
  • La liberté guidant le peuple – Eugène Delacroix
  • Nympheas – Claude Monet

Independent Speaking Exercise:

  • Link the elements below by making sentences in the passive voice. You can use the verb and the tense of your choice!
    • Le château de sable / les enfants
    • Le feu d’artifices / la ville de Paris
    • Le dîner / Cynthia
    • La maison / mes ancêtres
    • La voiture / mon cousin

You can find instructions and a download link in our flashcards module.

Lesson Content
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