Italian Passive: A Simple Guide.

The passive form in Italian (or English) is used when we want to focus on the object of the action, rather than the agent who carries out the action. For example:

  • Serena teaches the class [active form, focus on the agent = Serena]
  • The class is taught by Serena [passive form, focus on the object = la classe]

Passive forms can only be used with transitive verbs (verbs that take a direct object). In fact, every transitive verb can be used in both active and passive constructions, as in this example:

  • Mio nonno ha costruito questa casa [active form]
  • Questa casa è stata costruita da mio nonno [passive form]

How to Make the Passive Voice in Italian

To form the passive form in Italian, use the verb “essere” (conjugated in the corresponding tense of the active voice), followed by the past participle of the main verb, and the preposition “da” (which introduces the agent carrying out the action).

Let’s see the difference between passive and active forms in Italian in a few examples:

Active Forms in ItalianPassive Forms in Italian
Anna ha preparato i biscotti I biscotti sono stati cucinati da Anna
Marco ha cucinato la lasagna La lasagna è stata cucinata da Marco
I bambini fanno il puzzle Il puzzle è fatto dai bambini
I romani hanno costruito questo ponte Questo ponte è stato costruito dai romani
Il tornado ha distrutto la casaLa casa è stata distrutta dal tornado
Active vs. Passive form in Italian
Active Forms in EnglishPassive Forms in English
Anna baked cookiesThe cookies were baked by Anna
Marco has made the lasagnaThe lasagna has been made by Marco
The children do the puzzleThe puzzle is done by the children
The Romans built this bridgeThis bridge was built by the Romans
The tornado destroyed the houseThe house was destroyed by the tornado
Active vs. Passive form in English

English vs. Italian

The passive voice is more common in romance language, e.g. italian then in English. So, although you’re not using the passive form in English that much, be prepared to listen to it a lot in Italian.

When the Passive Construction is used in Italian: 

The passive voice is especially used:

  • To emphasize the object of the action
  • In news articles
  • Scientific papers
  • Legal documents 
  • To narrate facts and events past  

About the Author

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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Ciao, I'm Serena!

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

7 Romance Short Stories for Italian Language Learners