Passive Voice Conjugations

Conjugaisons de la voix passive

French passive voice
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Like compound tenses, the passive voice has two components:

  verb conjugation
1. être depends on tense/mood
2. main verb past participle

To turn the active voice into the passive voice, the verb être is conjugated into whatever tense or mood was used in the active voice, and the main verb—the one originally conjugated into that tense or mood—turns into a past participle. The addition of être means that there is always one more verb in the passive voice than in the active voice. Simple verb forms, which have a single verb in the active voice, have two verbs in the passive, while compound verb forms, which have two in the active voice, have three in the passive.

Par exemple…

Here is the verb voir (to see) in the present tense and passé composé active and passive voices: I see vs I am seen / I saw vs I was seen.

Present tense (simple conjugation)   Passé composé (compound conjugation)
Active Passive   Active Passive
je vois je suis vu(e)   j’ai vu j’ai été vu(e)
tu vois tu es vu(e)   tu as vu tu as été vu(e)
il voit il est vu   il a vu il a été vu
elle voit elle est vue   elle a vu elle a été vue
nous voyons nous sommes vu(e)s   nous avons vu nous avons été vu(e)s
vous voyez vous êtes vu(e)(s)   vous avez vu vous avez été vu(e)(s)
ils voient ils sont vus   ils ont vu ils ont été vus
elles voient elles sont vues   elles ont vu elles ont été vues

  Note that, as with être verbs in the compound tenses, the past participle of the main verb must agree with the subject in the passive voice.

Par exemple…

Elle est vue à la télé le lundi.   She’s seen on TV on Mondays.
Ces traitements sont vus comme invasifs.   These treatments are seen as (considered) invasive.

All verb tenses and moods can be used in the passive voice; it’s just a matter of conjugating être into that tense or mood.

 Active voice Passive voice
present Charles lave le chien.
Charles is washing the dog.
 Le chien est lavé par Charles.
The dog is being washed by Charles.
imperfect Charles lavait le film.
Charles was washing the dog.
 Le chien était lavé par Charles.
The dog was being washed by Charles.
conditional Charles laverait le chien.
Charles would wash the dog.
 Le chien serait lavé par Charles.
The dog would be washed by Charles.
subjunctive Je veux que Charles lave le chien.
I want Charles to wash the dog.
 Je veux que le chien soit lavé par Charles.
I want the dog to be washed by Charles.
future perfect   Charles aura lavé le chien.
Charles will have washed the dog.
 Le chien aura été lavé par Charles.
The dog will have been washed by Charles.

For dual-verb constructions, in which a semi-auxiliary verb precedes an infinitive, the semi-auxiliary stays the same, être remains in the infinitive, and the main verb, as always, becomes a past participle.

Charles peut laver le chien.
Charles can wash the dog.
 Le chien peut être lavé par Charles.
The dog can be washed by Charles.

 Related lessons

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French passive voice
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