The French Passive Form

The French Passive Form

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Added by December 4, 2017


Learn How to Form the Passive in French

1. Structure of the Passive Form in French

Hello everybody !

Do you know what the passive form is? Basically I’d say most sentences are in the active form : the subject does the action.

Example :

VOUS APPRENEZ LE FRANÇAIS. (You are learning French)

You are doing the action of learning French. You’re in charge, so to speak.

But if I say…

LE FRANÇAIS EST APPRIS DANS LE MONDE ENTIER. (French is learned throughout the world.)

…Is the French language doing anything ? Absolutely not. It is passively being learned by you guys, without having to do anything.

Now if you observe the two examples I have given you, can you find out how we form the passive in French ?

We form the passive exactly like you, English speakers. We use the verb ÊTRE (to be) in the relevant tense, and we add the past participle of the verb.


I’ll give you another example. This is one we learn at school in France when learning the passive.

Active form :

LE CHAT MANGE LA SOURIS. (The cat is eating the mouse).

I know it’s gross. We’re a bit obsessed with eating in France… Let’s turn this sentence into the passive.

Passive form :

LA SOURIS EST MANGÉE PAR LE CHAT. (The mouse is eaten by the cat).

Watch out here !

First, you have to know your PAST PARTICIPLES. Check out the lesson on past participles if needed.

Second, since we’re using the verb ÊTRE, the past participles will agree with the subject. In the cat and mouse passive form sentence, LA SOURIS is feminine, so we add an E at the end of MANGÉ.


Learn the Passive form in French


2. The Passive Form Used with Different Tenses

Cool ? Let’s look at this same silly sentence in various other tenses. You’ll notice that the past participle never changes, but the verb ÊTRE will conjugated in the different tenses listed below.

Passé Composé :


(The mouse was eaten by the cat)

Futur Simple :

LA SOURIS SERA MANGÉE PAR LE CHAT. (The mouse will be eaten by the cat)

Futur Proche :

LA SOURIS VA ÊTRE MANGÉE PAR LE CHAT. (The mouse is going to be eaten by the cat)

Conditionnel Présent :

LA SOURIS SERAIT MANGÉE PAR LE CHAT. (The mouse would be eaten by the cat)

You get the picture ? Let’s try this out now. Here’s a couple of exercises for you.


A. Turn the following sentences in the passive form

1. Le prof écrit la leçon.

2. Le maire a transformé la ville de Paris.

3. Le réchauffement climatique modifie certains paysages.

4. Le guide touristique expliquera l’histoire du Musée du Louvre.


Learn how to form the passive in french

Translations (to help you if needed)

  1. The teacher writes the lesson.
  2. The mayor has tranformed the city of Paris.
  3. Global warming is changing certain sceneries.
  4. The touristic guide will explain the history of the Louvre Museum.




B. Now let’s try to find the active form of the following sentences. Watch out with the conjugations of your verbs in the various tenses given.

1. La plage est nettoyée par des employés municipaux.

2. Le français est appris par beaucoup de gens.

3. Le livre a été créé par des étudiants brillants.

4. La récompense sera remise par le gagnant de l’année dernière.


Translations (to help you if needed)

  1. The beach is cleaned by civil servants.
  2. French is learned by a lot of people.
  3. The book was created by brilliant students.
  4. The reward will be given by last year’s winner.


Answers  A. 1. La leçon a été écrite par le prof. 2. La ville de Paris a été transformée par le maire. 3. Certains paysages sont modifiés par le réchauffement climatique. 4. L’histoire du musée du Louvre sera expliquée par le guide touristique. B. 1. Des employés municipaux nettoient la plage. 2. Beaucoup de gens apprennent le français. 3. Des étudiants brillants ont créé le livre. 4. Le gagnant de l’année dernière remettra la récompense.

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