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Voice is a grammatical term related to verb conjugation. The voice of a verb form expresses the relationship between that verb and its subject. French has three voices:
- Active voice
- Passive voice
- Pronominal voice
Voix active | Active voice
The default voice is active and indicates that the subject does something. You use the active voice every day without even thinking about it.
|Le chat voit la souris.||The cat sees the mouse.|
|Un bruit a réveillé mes enfants.||A noise woke up my children.|
|Je parle français.||I speak French.|
In the passive voice, something is done to the subject. English speakers are told* to avoid it as much as possible.
|La souris est vue par le chat.||The mouse is seen by the cat.|
|Mes enfants ont été réveillés par un bruit.||My children were woken up by a noise.|
|Le français est parlé sur cinq continents.||French is spoken on five continents.|
* See what I did there?
The pronominal voice expresses that the subject does something to itself. It’s much more common in French than in English.
|Le chat et la souris se voient.||The cat and mouse see each other.|
|Mes enfants se sont réveillés à 8h.||My children woke up at 8am.|
|Le français se parle ici.||French is spoken here, We speak French.|
The pronominal voice is sometimes erroneously called the reflexive voice, but reflexive verbs are in fact just one of three types of pronominal verbs.
- Introduction to French verbs
- What is verb conjugation?
- Verb conjugation tables
- French verb tenses, moods, voices
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