Passive Voice

Italian passive voice
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Voce passiva

As seen in this sentence, the passive voice is used to indicate that something is being done to a subject by an agent. It’s passive because the subject is being acted upon, rather than acting as in the active voice. The agent may be implied or introduced by the preposition da.

Per esempio…

La gallina è seguita dai suoi pulcini.   The chicken is followed by her chicks.
Questo insegnante è odiato dai suoi colleghi.   This teacher is hated by his colleagues.
Questo film è stato girato in Italia (da uno studente).   This movie was filmed in Italy (by a student).
La decisione è molto apprezzata (da tutti).   The decision is greatly appreciated (by everyone).

 Da notare

Only transitive verbs (verbs with direct objects) can be used in the passive voice. Just as the subject of an active sentence becomes the agent, the direct object becomes the subject.

Per esempio…

Active Gli ingegneri progettano le auto.
Ingegneri is the subject, auto is the direct object.
  Engineers design cars.
Passive Le auto sono progettate dagli ingegneri.
Auto is the subject, ingegneri is the agent.
  Cars are designed by engineers.

Using the passive voice

There are two good reasons to use the passive voice.

1) Emphasize the agent

In the passive voice, the agent is placed at the end of the sentence, which gives it extra weight.

 In confronto…

Passive   Active
Questo insegnante è odiato da tutti i suoi colleghi.    Tutti i suoi colleghi odiano questo insegnante.
Il film è stato girato da uno studente.   Uno studente ha girato il film.

2) Anonymous subject

With the passive voice, you can avoid saying who or what is doing something by leaving out the agent, whereas in the active voice, you have to specify a subject.

Per esempio…

Passive   Active
La decisione è molto apprezzata.   Tutti / Le persone apprezzano la decisione.
Il pubblico apprezza la decisione.
Questo film è stato girato in Italia.   Qualcuno ha girato questo film in Italia..

 Related lessons

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Voce passivea - Italian passive voice

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