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Passive voice

Events may be recounted in the active or the passive voice.


active voice: Eric Rohmer a tourné ce film. (Eric Rohmer made this film.)
passive voice: Ce film a été tourné par Eric Rohmer. (This film was made by Eric Rohmer.)

The passive voice is formed by using the verb être with the past participle of the principal verb. (The tense of the verb être determines the tense of the verb.) To indicate an agent (the person who performs the action), the preposition par is used:

Cette industrie sera bientôt développée dans le tiers monde. (This industry will soon be developed in the third world.)
Désolé, mais cette voiture a été achetée par un autre client. (Sorry, but this car has been purchased by another client.)

In French the passive voice is used sparingly. Occasionally, impersonal expressions with on are used in its stead, as are reflexive expressions:

Ici on parle français. (French is spoken here.)
Ce journal se vend partout. (This newspaper is sold everywhere.)

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