Passive voice: Italian grammar lesson 231

Progress
Takeaways
Facts
Article
Quiz
FAQs

Key Takeaways

Dive into the nuances of the passive voice in both English and Italian! This guide will show you how to shift the spotlight from the doer to the action itself, with practical examples and clear explanations on crafting passive sentences in Italian. 🇮🇹✨

  • Passive Voice Basics: Learn the difference between active and passive voice, focusing on how the passive voice moves the emphasis from the subject to the action or the object of the sentence. 🎭
  • Italian Passive Construction: Master the Italian passive voice using the verb essere plus the past participle, and remember to match the gender and number with the subject. 📘
  • Agent Inclusion: Discover when to use da to indicate the doer of the action in passive sentences, and how to contract it with definite articles for a smoother flow. 🕵️‍♂️
  • Tense Transformation: See how different tenses affect the passive voice in Italian, with examples from the present to the conditional, ensuring your verbs are conjugated correctly. ⏳
  • Passive Without an Agent: Sometimes it’s not about who did it but what was done. Learn to form passive sentences that leave out the doer for more emphasis on the action. 🎉
  • Real-Life Examples: Get a grip on how the passive voice is used in everyday Italian with practical sentences that you can use right away. 🌟

Quick facts

What does the passive voice emphasize in a sentence?

The passive voice emphasizes the action or the object rather than the doer.

How similar is the passive voice in Italian to English?

The passive voice in Italian is quite similar to English, using "essere" and the past participle.

When is the passive voice commonly used?

The passive voice is often used when the agent is unknown or irrelevant.

How do you form the passive voice in Italian?

Use "essere" in the appropriate tense and the past participle, followed by "da" (by) or its contractions.

What happens to the past participle in Italian passive voice?

The past participle must agree in gender and number with the subject.

Can you provide an example of the passive voice in the present tense?

"Il contratto è firmato da noi" means "The contract is signed by us."

How do you say "The contract was signed" in Italian in the passato prossimo tense?

"Il contratto è stato firmato da noi" translates to "The contract was signed by us."

What is the passive voice construction for future tense in Italian?

"Il contratto sarà firmato da noi" means "The contract will be signed by us."

How is the passive voice without an agent formed in Italian?

The passive voice without an agent places focus on the action: "La cena è servita alle 8" (Dinner is served at 8).

What is an example of the imperfect subjunctive in passive voice in Italian?

"Voleva che il contratto fosse firmato da noi" translates to "He wanted the contract to be signed by us."

My Thoughts

What is passive voice?

Take a look at the following two sentences and think about what they mean and how they’re different:

  1. The prime minister held a conference yesterday.
  2. A conference was held by the prime minister yesterday.

In the first sentence, the verb is active. Meaning the subject (the prime minister) does the action (held).

In the second sentence, the verb is passive. Meaning the subject of the sentence (a conference) is acted upon.

The first sentence places more emphasis on the prime minister, whereas the second sentence emphasizes the conference.

The passive voice reverses the subject (the doer) and object of action by moving the emphasis away from the doer and more on the action itself.

Let’s have a look at the following sentences:

  • When was this school built?
  • My car was stolen.
  • Horrible things were said about that.

In this sentence, we used the passive because the agent of the action is unknown or impersonal.

We use the passive voice in Italian, too, and luckily it’s very similar to how it is used in English.

Let’s learn more about it!

How to use the passive voice in Italian?

To understand how the passive voice works in Italian, let’s analyze the same idea first using the active voice and then the passive voice:

I miei genitori pagano l’affitto.

My parents pay the rent.

L’affitto è pagato dai miei genitori.

The rent is paid by my parents.

As you can see, we use the verb essere and the past participle of the main verb followed by da (by) or its contractions (dal, dallo, dalla, dai, dagli, dalle).

Essere should be in the same tense as the verb in its corresponding active sentence. And the past participle agrees in gender and number with the subject.

For example, if in the active voice, the verb is in the present, we’ll use the present in the passive voice too.

How to make a verb passive in Italian?

When we use the passive voice in Italian, the verb essere should be conjugated accordingly, depending on what we want to say.

In the following examples, we’ll use the same idea but with different tenses so that you understand the transformation between sentences A (active voice) and sentences B (passive voice).

Presente indicativo:

A: Noi firmiamo il contratto.

A: We sign the contract.

And

B: Il contratto è firmato da noi.

B: The contract is signed by us.

Passato prossimo:

A: Noi abbiamo firmato il contratto.

A: We signed the contract.

And

B: Il contratto è stato firmato da noi.

B: The contract was signed by us.

Imperfetto:

A: Noi firmavamo il contratto.

A: We signed the contract.

And

B: Il contratto era firmato da noi.

B: The contract was signed by us.

Futuro:

A: Noi firmeremo il contratto.

A: We will sign the contract.

And

B: Il contratto sarà firmato da noi.

B: The contract will be signed by us.

Congiuntivo imperfetto:

A: Voleva che noi firmassimo il contratto.

A: He wanted us to sign the contract.

And

B: Voleva che il contratto fosse firmato da noi.

B: He wanted the contract to be signed by us.

Condizionale presente:

A: Noi firmeremmo il contratto.

A: We would sign the contract.

And

B: Il contratto sarebbe firmato da noi.

B: The contract would be signed by us.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

How to form the passive voice without an agent?

Like in English, in Italian, the doer is sometimes unmentioned.

This places more emphasis on the action itself, without concern for who did what.

Here are some examples:

La cena è servita alle 8.

Dinner is served at 8.

Il palazzo è stato costruito venti anni fa.

The building was built twenty years ago.

Le tue cose sono state buttate per sbaglio.

Your stuff was thrown out by mistake.

Riccardo fu tanto amato nella sua vita.

Riccardo was very loved in his life.

Voi sarete sempre benvenuti.

You will always be welcomed.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

What is passive voice?

The passive voice reverses the subject (the doer) and object of action by moving the emphasis away from the doer and more on the action itself.

How to use the passive voice in Italian?

By following this structure: the corresponding conjugated form of "essere" (to be) + past participle + da/dai/dalla, etc.

How to form the passive voice without an agent?

By placing more emphasis on the action itself, without concern for who did what.

Italian word of the day
strada
Example
Come vado alla stazione? Prendi questa strada.
How do I get to the station? Take this road.
Follow me to fluency​

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free courses and other resources.

Leave a Reply

Try my courses for free​
Stefano
[TheChamp-Login redirect_url="https://www.thinkinitalian.com/app/"]
Click to learn Italian words in the text

Click any highlighted Italian word to hear its pronunciation, see its translation, and ask the AI assistant to explain it.

clickable sentence
clickable sentence 2
How long to fluency?

Find out how long it will take you to master Italian!
Get on the right track in 3 minutes.

dolce vita logo

We're already friends!

Coming from Luca and Marina?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
all language resources

We're already friends!

Coming from All Language Resources?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
GRAB A COUPON NOW, REDEEM IT LATER
50% OFF

To receive free resources once a week together with my best offers, just tell me where to send everything. Opt out at any time.

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.