The French Verb Voices

senior citizens stretching their arms toward the sky during outdoor activity

In French, the verb voice defines the relation that links the verb to its subject. A verb can be used in its active, passive, or pronominal voice.

The Active Voice

In the active voice, the subject does the action carried by the verb and the complement indicates the action’s beneficiary.

E.g. la grand-mère lave l’enfant.

The Passive Voice

In the passive voice, the subject is the action’s beneficiary whereas the complement indicates the one who does the action. The auxiliary être is used to go from the active to the passive voice.

E.g. l’enfant est lavé par sa grand-mère.

The Pronominal Voice

In the pronominal voice, the subject is also the action’s beneficiary. The reflexive pronoun is used with the verb.

E.g. l’enfant se lave.

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