Forming La Voix Passive with compound tenses (passive voice)

In English, an active sentence is turned into a passive one (the Passive voice) as follows:

The cat is eating the mouse.    ->    The mouse is being eaten by the cat.

Look at passive sentences in French, conjugated in compound tenses (Passé composé, Plus-que-parfait, Futur antérieur, Conditionnel passé):

Elles ont été surprises par cette révélation.
They were surprised by this revelation.

Il avait été averti par son supérieur.
He had been warned by his superior.

La loi aura été écrite par ses pairs.
The law will have been written by his peers. 

Des explications auraient été données par votre mentor.
Explanations would have been given by your mentor.

Notice that just like in English, the pattern is as follows:

- The object becomes the subject

- We use the auxiliary verb être conjugated in a compound tense*, followed by the past participle of the verb

- We use the preposition par to introduce the complement.

Note that the past participle agrees with the subject of the auxiliary être.
 

*In order to turn a sentence from active to passive voice, the tense of the auxiliary être must be the same as the tense of the main verb of the active sentence.
For example:

Mes amis ont regardé les oiseaux.  -> Les oiseaux ont été regardés par mes amis.
                 Passé Composé                              Passé Composé

Mon chien avait regardé les voitures.  -> Les voitures avaient été regardées par mon chien.             
                   Plus-que-Parfait                                  Plus-que-Parfait

Les enfants auront suivi le guide.     ->    Le guide aura été suivi par les enfants.                 Futur Antérieur                           Futur Antérieur

 

See also Forming La Voix Passive with simple tenses (passive voice) 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Il avait été averti par son supérieur.
He had been warned by his superior.


Elles ont été surprises par cette révélation.
They were surprised by this revelation.


La loi aura été écrite par ses pairs.
The law will have been written by his peers. 


Des explications auraient été données par votre mentor.
Explanations would have been given by your mentor.


Q&A

Katie

Kwiziq community member

30 October 2018

1 reply

I beg your pardon. I see I'd got the tense wrong.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

31 October 2018

31/10/18

okay, thanks...

Katie

Kwiziq community member

30 October 2018

6 replies

Is it essential to change the "des pâtes" to "les pâtes" for the passive? That's what I got marked wrong for.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

31 October 2018

31/10/18

auto-corrected ...

Katie

Kwiziq community member

31 October 2018

31/10/18

OK, but you don't comment on the "les" and "des". Perhaps that's trivial?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

2 November 2018

2/11/18

Sorry Katie, I marked the wrong question . Can you give me the full context ?

Katie

Kwiziq community member

2 November 2018

2/11/18

I don't know how to retrieve it. But it was something like, "Il a fait des pâtes" to turn into the passive and I'd written something like "des pâtes ont été faites", but the correct answer was "les pâtes,,,"

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

4 November 2018

4/11/18

Hi Katie,

You can say both 'les' or 'des' in this context .

'Des' is more exact but sounds strange in the passive so that is probably why 'les' is marked correct.

Hope this helps!

Katie

Kwiziq community member

5 November 2018

5/11/18

Thank you! Yes, I did think "des" sounded odd in the passive...

Mark

Kwiziq community member

20 October 2018

5 replies

Is it possible to say "La souris était mangée par le chat. -- The mouse was eaten by the cat."?

How is this sentence different from "La souris a été mangée par le chat. -- The mouse was eaten by the cat.", please? Thank you. This is something I get stuck on a lot.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 October 2018

21/10/18

To your first question: yes it is possible. The difference is that 

... était mangée is imparfait and

... a été mangée is passé composé. 

Mark

Kwiziq community member

21 October 2018

21/10/18

Thank you. But when would you use the imparfait and when would passé composé? What's the difference in meaning here between the two tenses? (Assuming you were the cat.)

Mark

Kwiziq community member

21 October 2018

21/10/18

Sorry, I meant: "But when would you use the imparfait and when would you use the passé composé?"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

22 October 2018

22/10/18

Usage of imparfait vs. passé composé is a separate topic in itself which I can't answer exhaustively in a short post. There are several lessons on this topic on kwiziq, however. I suggest you either browse the Library or progress through the lessons until the start to appear naturally in your lesson plan.

Or, alternatively, if you're impatient, why not try Google?

Mark

Kwiziq community member

22 October 2018

22/10/18

Thank you, Chris.

Anne

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2018

2 replies

What's wrong with La lettre a été envoyée par Einstein lui-même.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

20 August 2018

20/08/18

Hi Anne - on its own, there's nothing wrong it, but the kwiz question I think you're referring to asks for The letter had been sent by Einstein himself which requires the pluperfect tense.

Hope that helps!

Anne

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2018

20/08/18

Thank you.

Donna

Kwiziq community member

7 July 2018

2 replies

When do you use "ont été" without "par"?

Speaking about vegan activists this week, News in Slow French used these forms. I can't even find them on conjugation sites! Are they la voix passive? They don't use "par"...

"Boucheries ont été vandalisées ces dernier mois."

"Magazins ont été aspergés de faux sang."

D'autres ont eu brisées les vitrines."

Very confusing. Thanks for your help!

https://www.newsinslowfrench.com/slow-french/384/news/3

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 July 2018

8/07/18

Hi Donna,

It is the 'voix passive' . In those little snippets of information we are not told who did those deeds in the sentences, so no 'par' required. But the magasins all have endured these actions.

N.B. The final one should be "D'autres ont eu les vitres brisées". 

(Others had their windows broken.)

Hope this helps!

Donna

Kwiziq community member

8 July 2018

8/07/18

Thank you, Cécile.

Phillip

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2018

2 replies

This lesson and the quiz are wrong. It is using avoir not être.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2018

14/06/18

Can you post an example of what you believe to be wrong?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2018

14/06/18

Just on a hunch, mybe you believe this sentence to be wrong?

La souris a été mangée par le chat. -- The mouse was eaten by the cat.

Yes, there is a form of avoir in this sentence. It is needed to form the passé composé of être, which is a été.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

smriti

Kwiziq community member

26 May 2018

1 reply

Hi . Please confirm how to form the negation for passive form in compound tenses

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

27 May 2018

27/05/18

Hi Smriti,

It would be the same as with active form, the ne...pas is placed around the the auxiliary verb in the past tenses.

Elles n'ont pas été surprises par cette révélation.

Il n'avait pas été averti par son supérieur...

Hope this helps!

 

 

Brian

Kwiziq community member

9 May 2018

1 reply

It looks like there's a problem in the third box (second green one). The text makes no sense.

This doesn't make sense and it doesn't include any example!
"In order to turn a sentence from active to passive voice, the  tense of the auxiliary  be  must be the  Saami have the tense of the verb hand  of the active sentence. 
For example:"

Brian

Kwiziq community member

9 May 2018

9/05/18

Sorry - my browser was automatically translating from French to English.  When I told it to restore the original it all made sense!

Arman

Kwiziq community member

28 December 2017

2 replies

No micro quiz?

Hi, I can't seem to find the micro-quiz to any of these lessons? It's been like this for a week or so now.

Jim

Kwiziq community member

30 December 2017

30/12/17

I suspect that the problem relates to the device you are using? It all works as it should on my PC with Windows 10 installed and the quizzes are there at the end of the section.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

16 February 2018

16/02/18

You'll be pleased to know micro kwizzes have been restored. You can read more here:

https://french.kwiziq.com/blog/micro-kwizzes-back/

Don

Kwiziq community member

7 November 2017

6 replies

Nitpicking correction to the text

Where you write "In order to turn a sentence from active to passive voice, the tense of the auxiliary être must be the same as the tense of the main verb of the active sentence," shouldn't you instead say "the auxiliary VERB" or "the auxiliary VERB ÊTRE/AVOIR", especially since the examples that follow use "avoir" and not "être."

Jim

Kwiziq community member

7 November 2017

7/11/17

Hi Don, In the examples, avoir is not used in the passive voice, it is in the active voice only. As I read it no correction is required. Être is used in the passive voice. Let's see if Aurélie is in agreement. Hope this helps. Alan

Chris

Kwiziq community member

7 November 2017

7/11/17

I concur. Only êtreq is used in the passive voice. -- Chris.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

7 November 2017

7/11/17

Bonjour à tous ! Yes, the auxiliary verb for the passive voice is always "être" :) Bonne journée !

Sue

Kwiziq community member

25 January 2018

25/01/18

First word in statement and answer vary between LES and DES.....very minor but gets marked as wrong!

Jim

Kwiziq community member

25 January 2018

25/01/18

Hi Sue, Yes! They do vary because the active subject becomes the passive object and the active object the passive subject. So the Articles change accordingly -- does this help to answer your point? Regards, Alan

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

30 January 2018

30/01/18

Bonjour Don and Sue !

@Don : I think your confusion comes from the fact that être itself takes the auxiliary avoir in compound tenses, but in these examples, it is indeed être which is used (and conjugated) in the passive voice :)

@Sue : Could you tell me what sentence it was ? I had a look through the questions, and I haven't found any where the article changes between the two voices.

Bonne journée à tous !

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