How to use the Passive Voice in French [+16 Examples]

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In this French grammar lesson you will learn about how to use the passive voice in French.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • what the passive voice is
  • how to use the passive voice in French: simple tenses
  • how to use the passive voice in French: compound tenses
  • When to use par and de
  • how the passive voice is used in sentences in French
  • how you can quiz yourself on how to form the passive voice in French
  • how Anki files can be downloaded on the topic of how to form the passive voice in French

Please refer to the French C1 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar, if you are curious about how this fits in the overall structure of French C1.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about how to use the passive voice in French!

Table of Contents

What is the Passive Voice?

You use the passive voice to to take the perspective of the person or object that experiences the action, rather than the person or object that performs the action.

When you do this, the most crucial person or thing will become the subject of the sentence.

Take a look at the following active sentence.

The boy throws the ball.

The boy is the subject.

Throws is the verb.

The ball is the object.

Now can see how the same sentence has been turned into a passive one.

The ball is thrown by the boy.

The ball has now become the subject of the sentence.

How to use the Passive Voice in French: Simple Tenses

You will now see how to use the passive voice in French for simple tenses.

On the left you can see the active sentences.

On the right you can see the passive sentences.

  1. le présent

Le garçon lance la balle.

The boy throws the ball.

La balle est lancée par le garçon.

The ball is thrown by the boy.

  1. l’imparfait

Chaque samedi, je faisais le repas.

Every Saturday, I made the meal.

Chaque samedi, le repas était fait par moi.

Every Saturday, the meal was made by me.

  1. le futur simple

Les étudiants passeront le test la semaine prochaine.

The students will take the test next week.

Le test sera passé par les étudiants la semaine prochaine.

The test will be taken by the students next week.

  1. le conditionnel présent

Votre décision la rendrait heureuse

Your decision would make her happy

Elle serait heureuse de votre décision.

She would be happy with your decision.

When you look at all of the examples, you can see 4 things.

  1. The objects become the subject.
  2. The auxiliary être is conjugated in the simple tenses, followed by the particip passé of the verb.
  3. The complements are introduced by par and de.
  4. The particip passé agrees with the subject of the auxiliary être

How to use the Passive Voice in French: Compound Tenses

You will now see how to use the passive voice in French for compound tenses.

On the left you can see the active sentences.

On the right you can see the passive sentences.

  1. le passé composé

Je l’ai suivi hier.

I was following him yesterday.

Il a été suivi par moi hier.

He was followed by me yesterday.

  1. le plus-que-parfait

Ma sœur avait entendu mes parents.

My sister had heard my parents.

Mes parents avaient été entendus par ma sœur.

My parents had been heard by my sister.

  1. le futur antérieur

Mes cousins auront vu le film.

My cousins will have seen the film.

Le film aura été vu par mes cousins.

The film will have been seen by my cousins.

  1. le conditionnel passé

Le gagnant aurait reçu un prix

The winner would have received a prize.

Un prix aurait été reçu par le gagnant.

A prize would have been received by the winner.

When you look at all of the examples, you can see 4 things.

  1. The objects become the subject.
  2. The auxiliary être is conjugated in the compound tenses, followed by the particip passé of the verb.
  3. The complements are introduced by par.
  4. The particip passé agrees with the subject of the auxiliary être

When to use Par and De

aimé deloved by
connu deknown to
craint defeared by
detesté dehated by
étonné deshocked by
ignoré deignored by
oublié deforgotten by
respecté derespected by
surpris desuprised by

Most complements will be introduced with par (by).

Only some complements will be introduced with de (by/to/with).

You will use de, if the passive sentence has a verb of state.

You can see the some of the most used verbs of state in the table.

Example Sentences on How to use the Passive Voice in French

The final section of this lesson on how to use the passive voice in French is about seeing the subjunctive in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding on how to use the passive voice in French through examples.

Le garçon lance la balle.

The boy throws the ball.

La balle est lancée par le garçon.

The ball is thrown by the boy.

Chaque samedi, je faisais le repas.

Every Saturday, I made the meal.

Chaque samedi, le repas était fait par moi.

Every Saturday, the meal was made by me.

Les étudiants passeront le test la semaine prochaine.

The students will take the test next week.

Le test sera passé par les étudiants la semaine prochaine.

The test will be taken by the students next week.

Votre décision la rendrait heureuse

Your decision would make her happy

Elle serait heureuse de votre décision.

She would be happy with your decision.

Je l’ai suivi hier.

I was following him yesterday.

Il a été suivi par moi hier.

He was followed by me yesterday.

Ma sœur avait entendu mes parents.

My sister had heard my parents.

Mes parents avaient été entendus par ma sœur.

My parents had been heard by my sister.

Mes cousins auront vu le film.

My cousins will have seen the film.

Le film aura été vu par mes cousins.

The film will have been seen by my cousins.

Le gagnant aurait reçu un prix

The winner would have received a prize.

Un prix aurait été reçu par le gagnant.

A prize would have been received by the winner.

Quiz Yourself on How to use the Passive Voice in French

It’s not enough to just read this lesson.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

It is also for this reason that it is recommended to download the Anki Decks and do them.

At the end of every lesson you can do a small test.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want.

Anki File for How to use the Passive Voice in French

It is important to do the Anki excercises for this lesson, so that you can remember what you just studied.

By downloading the Anki File for French C1, you can practice every French C1 lesson that is on Language Atlas.

At this moment the Anki File for this lesson doesn’t exist yet. However, in due time this will be available on Language Atlas.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or don’t know how to use Anki or merge Anki files please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

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