Voice

French voice
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La voix

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.

Par exemple…

Le chat voit la souris.   The cat sees the mouse.
Un bruit a rĂ©veillĂ© mes enfants.   A noise woke up my children.
Je parle français.   I speak French.

Voix passive | Passive voice

In the passive voice, something is done to the subject. English speakers are told* to avoid it as much as possible.

Par exemple…

La souris est vue par le chat.   The mouse is seen by the cat.
Mes enfants ont Ă©tĂ© rĂ©veillĂ©s par un bruit.   My children were woken up by a noise.
Le français est parlĂ© sur cinq continents.   French is spoken on five continents.

* See what I did there?

Voix pronominale | Pronominal voice

The pronominal voice expresses that the subject does something to itself. It’s much more common in French than in English.

Par exemple…

Le chat et la souris se voient.   The cat and mouse see each other.
Mes enfants se sont rĂ©veillĂ©s Ă  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.

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French verbal voice

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