How do I form the passive?

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First let’s start with a description of what the passive is. The passive voice is the opposite of the active voice.

In an active sentence, the subject is doing the action

In a passive sentence, the subject of the sentence is having the action done to it.

Active: I ate the chocolate - je mange le chocolat

(I am the subject and I am eating the chocolate)

Passive: The chocolate is eaten by me - le chocolat est mangé par moi

(The chocolate is the subject and it is being eaten)

Forming the passive in French is not as complicated as it might seem. Let’s go from the start to change je mange le chocolat into the passive.

1) The first thing to remember is that the passive uses the verb être as well as the action verb. So for this sentence the two verbs we are using are être + manger

2) You need to put être into the tense that you want the sentence to be in. So in this case our sentence is in the present.

3) Être also needs to be conjugated according to the new subject of the sentence. Our new subject is chocolat. It is singular. So the present singular of être is est.

4) So far we have ‘le chocolat est.’ Now we need to add in our action verb which is manger. We always use the past participle of the verb. So now our sentence reads: ‘le chocolat est mangé’

5) The final thing to do is to add in who or what did the action. In this case, it was me who ate the chocolate. To say ‘me’ we use the emphatic pronoun moi.

So our final sentence reads:

Le chocolat est mangé par moi

Changing the tense is easy because only être is different:

Le chocolat sera mangé par moi (future)

Le chocolat était mangé par moi (past)

One last thing to remember is that because you are using être, the past participle following it must always agree in gender and number with the subject of the sentence.

La pizza est mangée par moi

Les bonbons sont mangés par moi

Now you can form the passive voice. I hope that helped!

Rhiannon H. A Level French tutor, 13 plus  French tutor, GCSE French ...

About the author

is an online A Level French tutor with MyTutor studying at Cardiff University

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