La forme passive

French Grammar (see all)

Want to improve your French? Test our online French lessons for free!

La forme passive

The passive is formed with the conjugated verb être + the past participle of the main verb. Être is conjugated into the same tense as that of the active form.
Le chat mange la souris. (mange = (indicative) present)
The cat is eating the mouse.
La souris est mangée par le chat. (est = (indicative) present)
The mouse is being eaten by the cat.
Le chat a mangé la souris. (a mangé = passé composé)
The cat ate the mouse.
La souris a été mangée par le chat. (a été = passé composé)
The mouse was eaten by the cat.
Le chat mangera la souris. (mangera = future)
The cat will eat the mouse.
La souris sera mangée par le chat. (sera = future)
The mouse will be eaten by the cat.

In the passive form, the past participle agrees with the subject.
Le chat mangera la souris.
The cat will eat the mouse.
La souris sera mangée par le chat.
The mouse will be eaten by the cat.
Le chat mangera les souris.
The cat will eat the mice.
Les souris seront mangées par le chat.
The mice will be eaten by the cat.

Note: The passive form is only used for verbs which aren’t followed by a preposition. Examples: ouvrir une porte (to open a door), manger une glace (to eat an ice cream), lire un livre (to read a book), acheter des fruits (to buy fruit), etc. These verbs can’t be used in the passive: parler à (to speak to), avoir besoin de (to need), partir pour (to leave for), etc.
Solange a acheté 12 pommes
Solange bought 12 apples
12 pommes ont été achetées par Solange (we say acheter quelque chose)
12 apples were bought by Solange
Fabienne parle à Bertrand
Fabienne is speaking to Bertrand
no passive form possible, we say parler à quelqu’un



Still having difficulties with La forme passive? Want to improve your French? Test our online French lessons and receive a free level assessment!


Do you have smart way of remembering this rule? A tip to avoid making a mistake on La forme passive? Share it with us!