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 conjugated to one of the simple tenses, followed by the past participle of the verb

- We use the preposition par to introduce the complement.

How to go from an active to a passive sentence:

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:

Présent:

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

Imparfait:                                                                     

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

Futur:

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

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

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 Forum 6 questions, 17 answers

GregoryC1Kwiziq community member

a été réveillé vs était réveillé

In filling in the blank for Bob __ par la reveil tous les jours (Bob was awaken by the alarm every day), I typed "a été réveillé par" instead of "était réveillé". Could you help me understand why the imparfait was incorrect? Thanks!

Greg

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Gregory,

The tense you used in 'a été réveillé ' is the perfect tense ( passé composé).

The imparfait 'était réveillé' is correct as the action is repetitive.

e.g.

J'ai été réveillé par les éboueurs dans la nuit = I was woken up/awaken by the rubbish collectors last night (One action in the past done and dusted.)

compared with - 

John était réveillé par les éboueurs toutes les nuits = John was woken up/awaken  by the dustmen every night  (Repetitive action which happened every night.)

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Gregory,

Actually, the imperfect is correct and you answered in the passé composé.

Bob a été réveillé... -- a été is passé composé of être
Bob était révaillé... -- était is imperfect of être

You need the imperfect in this sentence because the action is repeated over a longer period (...was awaken every day...)

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi Chris, 

As the verb 'to wake up' is se réveiller why is it not 'Bob s'était réveillé ....

John

a été réveillé vs était réveillé

In filling in the blank for Bob __ par la reveil tous les jours (Bob was awaken by the alarm every day), I typed "a été réveillé par" instead of "était réveillé". Could you help me understand why the imparfait was incorrect? Thanks!

Greg

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JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Un lion chassera une antilope

In the passive the correct answer is given as 'une antilope sera chassée par un lion'.

As chasser is an -er verb that I guess takes avoir why isn't the answer 'une antilope aura chassé par un lion'?

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour John !

I think here you're mixing Le Passé Composé (or Futur Antérieur to be exact) and the passive voice :)

You are correct that in compound tenses, -er verbs use avoir, but here Le Passif is not a tense, but rather a perspective.

Indeed, if you look at the two sentences, the difference is who is doing the action:

Un lion chassera une antilope.   -> the lion is hunting.

Une antilope sera chassée par un lion.  -> the antilope is being hunted.

Now look at the sentence you suggested:

Une antilope aura chassé par un lion.  -> An antilope will have hunted by a lion.

-> Here the sentence has a complete different meaning and is actually incorrect :)

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Merci Aurélie, Now it's clear as long as I remember your useful examples

John

Un lion chassera une antilope

In the passive the correct answer is given as 'une antilope sera chassée par un lion'.

As chasser is an -er verb that I guess takes avoir why isn't the answer 'une antilope aura chassé par un lion'?

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SkylarC1Kwiziq community member

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
Asked 1 year ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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.
GunnarC1Kwiziq community member

I had the same reaction as Skylar (using hos/her before mentioning the person to whom the thing belongs doesn’t really work in my opinion) and it feels awkward to respond that way even if you know that this is what is expected. This is also one of the situations where I always feel tempted to resort to Passe Simple (“fut caressé”) instead of “était caressé”). Would that be OK here?

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

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NancyC1Kwiziq community member

Why the imparfait and not the passé composé?

Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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.

Why the imparfait and not the passé composé?

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TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

"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.
Asked 2 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi,

You can say both 'suivi de' et 'suivi par' but they convey different meanings.

For instance you will say:

Le roi est entré dans la salle suivi de sa cour The king entered the room followed by his court

Le juge est entré dans le palais de justice  suivi des huissiers = The judge entered the court house followed by the ushers

Une période de beau temps suivie d'orages A period of good weather followed by thunder

With 'suivi de',  the emphasis is on the order of appearance.

In 'suivi par' there is more emphasis on the action of following something/someone being followed by someone -

Le  mari était suivi par un détective privé The husband was followed by a private detective

Ce cours est très bien suivi par les étudiants = This lecture is very well attended by students 

Je sui suivi par mon médecin I am under the regular care of my doctor

Hope this helps!

 

 

 

RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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,
AaronC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Both constructions are passive, friends. There must be a better explanation, or "de" should be acceptable.

AaronC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Cécile. In all of the "par" examples, but none of the "de" examples, the phrase comes directly after some version of the verb "être". What if we were to mix them up?

- Le roi est entré dans la salle. Il a été suivi de sa cour.

Would that be okay?

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Aaron, 

You would probably say -

Le roi est entré dans la salle étant suivi de sa cour...

AaronC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Ah, okay. Thanks again Cécile.

I'll also leave the following links for anyone who wants to see some examples of "[être] suivi(e) de/par" from the internet, to compare them:

- https://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/search?query=est+suivi+de

- https://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/search?query=est+suivie+de

- https://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/search?query=est+suivi+par

- https://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/search?query=est+suivie+par

"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.

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UmiC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

La voix passive with compound tenses vs simple tenses

Asked 2 years ago
UmiC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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.
UmiC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Dear Chris, Thank you very much for your input! Yes, what you wrote makes sense!!!!

La voix passive with compound tenses vs simple tenses

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