45 Days of French – Day 42

Hour 22 of Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (ATYF) brings us the passive voice. I’ve been wondering if we were going to see a passive voice introduced, ever since Essential French (EF) declined to offer it. Hour 22 also offers the causative faire construction.

This Hour also covers medical vocabulary. If you have a pain, and need it described, this chapter should give you a head start!

Passive Voice
We have seen the active voice throughout this book. Now we are offered the passive voice. One more voice is mentioned, the pronominal. I’m not sure if this last is something completely new, or just the reflexive/pronominal verb form, which has been seen, but  which I do not recall being described as a “voice”.

In the passive, the subject receives the action, rather than doing/being. In effect, what would be the direct object in the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence, much like in an English passive structure. For this reason, intransitive verbs can not be placed in the passive voice. And the lack of a direct object in passive constructions is even more rigidly kept than in English.

To form the passive, conjugate être in the appropriate tense, and follow it with the past participle of the desired verb. The fact that intransitive verbs cannot be placed in the passive means there is never a confusion between the passé composé and the passive voice.

Remember that the past participle of être is été, and that it uses avoir as its auxiliary.

The passive voice adds a concept of agency, connected to the verb by a prepositional phrase, to describe who actually performs the action. It is not always present, of course. Usually, the preposition that governs the agent is par, but a number of verbs govern the agent with de, such as aimé, suivi, accompagné, entouré, couvert and rempli (all in their past participles as required by the passive construction).

Causative Faire
To express that you are having something done (by someone else), you want to use the causative faire, or faire faire, construction. Basically, conjugate faire in the appropriate tense, and follow it with the verb for the desired action in the infinitive. To indicate who you want to do the action, add an indirect object to the sentence (all the books examples governed the indirect object with à).

Of course, indirect objects can be turned into indirect object pronouns. If you do this, the indirect object pronoun precedes the conjugated form of faire.

The rest of the Hour is medical and dental care vocabulary. As I said before, a good place to start if you aren’t feeling well.

About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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1 Response to 45 Days of French – Day 42

  1. Pingback: 45 Days of French | σφόδρα – exceedingly

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