Lesson 18 – Passive verbs

So far all the verbs that we have encountered have been in what is called the active voice. This means that someone or something has carried out an action. We use this voice to say what the subject does.

For example:

Cartam confirmat – He confirms the charter.

The subject is ‘he’ and the object is ‘charter’.

However, we will also encounter verbs in the passive voice. This means that an action is done to the subject of the sentence. We use this voice to say what happens to the subject.

For example:

Carta confirmatur – The charter is confirmed.

The subject is ‘charter’.

The passive voice occurs in all the tenses. Luckily, however, in most instances the passive endings are similar for all four conjugations.

Have a look at the summary below.

Present passive tense
Carta confirmatur – The charter is confirmed.

Imperfect passive tense
Carta confirmabatur – The charter was being confirmed.

Future passive tense
Carta confirmabitur – The charter will be confirmed.

Perfect passive tense
Carta confirmata est – The charter was / has been confirmed.

Pluperfect passive tense
Carta confirmata erat – The charter had been confirmed

Future perfect passive tense
Carta confirmata erit – The charter will have been confirmed.

Forming the passive 1

Handy hint

The present, imperfect and future tenses all share the endings below.

Latin English
-r I
-ris you (singular)
-tur he/she/it
-mur we
-mini you (plural)
-ntur they

Present passive tense

To form a present passive verb you need to add the relevant endings to the stem of the verb.

Exception

To form the first person singular, add the relevant ending, ‘-r’ to the first person singular present active tense, rather than to the stem.

For example:

Latin English
voco I call
vocor I am called

First and second conjugations

To get the stem, remove ‘-re’ from the infinitive form of the verb.

For example:

The stem for voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) ‘to call’ would be ‘voca’.
The stem for habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) ‘to have’ would be ‘habe’.

Then add the relevant endings.

For example:

Present passive of voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

Latin English
vocor I am called, I am being called
vocaris you are called, you are being called
vocatur he/she/it is called, he/she/it is being called
vocamur we are called, we are being called
vocamini you are called, you are being called
vocantur they are called, they are being called

Third conjugation

To get the stem, remove ‘-ere’ from the infinitive form of the verb.

For example:

The stem for duco, ducere, duxi, ductum (3) ‘to lead’ would be ‘duc’.

Add ‘-e’ to the stem for the second person singular, ‘-i’ for the third person singular, first person plural and second person plural, and ‘-u’ for the third person plural.

For example:

Present passive of duco, ducere, duxi, ductum (3) to lead

Latin English
ducor I am led, I am being led
duceris you are led, you are being led
ducitur he/she/it is led, he/she/it is being led
ducimur we are led, we are being led
ducimini you are led, you are being led
ducuntur they are led, they are being led

Fourth conjugation

To get the stem, remove ‘-re’ from the infinitive form of the verb.

For example:

The stem for audio, audire, audivi, auditum (4) ‘to hear’ would be ‘audi’.

Then add the relevant endings.

Exception

For verbs of the fourth conjugation, you need to add a -u to the stem for the third person plural before adding the ending.

For example:

Present passive of audio, audire, audivi, auditum (4) to hear

Latin English
audior I am heard, I am being heard
audiris you are heard, you are being heard
auditur he/she/it is heard, he/she/it is being heard
audimur we are heard, we are being heard
audimini you are heard, you are being heard
audiuntur they are heard, they are being heard

Imperfect passive tense

Handy hint

The present, imperfect and future tenses all share the endings below.

Latin English
-r I
-ris you (singular)
-tur he/she/it
-mur we
-mini you (plural)
-ntur they

The endings for the imperfect passive tense are the same as the other tenses in this group, but they need to be preceded with ‘ba-’.

Endings
Latin English
bar I
baris you (singular)
batur he/she/it
bamur we
bamini you (plural)
bantur they

To form an imperfect passive you need to add these endings to the stem of the verb.

First, second and third conjugations

To get the stem, remove ‘-re’ from the infinitive form of the verb and add the relevant endings.

Imperfect passive of voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

Latin English
vocabar I was being called
vocabaris you were being called
vocabatur he/she/it was being called
vocabamur we were being called
vocabamini you were being called
vocabantur they were being called

Fourth conjugation

To get the stem, remove ‘-re’ from the infinitive form of the verb, add ‘-e’ and then add the relevant endings.

For example:

audio, audire, audivi, auditum the stem ‘audi-’ becomes ‘audie-’.

Latin English
audiebar I was being heard
audiebaris you were being heard
audiebatur he/she/it was being heard
audiebamur we were being heard
audiebamini you were being heard
audiebantur they were being heard

Future passive tense

Handy hint

The present, imperfect and future tenses all share the endings below.

Latin English
-r I
-ris you (singular)
-tur he/she/it
-mur we
-mini you (plural)
-ntur they

First and second conjugations

The endings for the future passive tense are the same as the other tenses in this group, but for the first and second conjugation they need to be preceded with ‘-bo’, ‘-be’, ‘-bi’, ‘- bi’, ‘-bi’, ‘-bu’.

Endings for the first and second conjugations

Latin English
bor I
beris you (singular)
bitur he/she/it
bimur we
bimini you (plural)
buntur they

To form a future passive tense you need to add these endings to the stem of the verb.

To get the stem, remove ‘-re’ from the infinitive form of the verb and add the relevant endings.

For example:

Future passive of voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

Latin English
vocabor I will be called
vocaberis you will be called
vocabitur he/she/it will be called
vocabimur we will be called
vocabimini you will be called
vocabuntur they will be called

Third and fourth conjugation

To form the future passive tense for third and fourth conjugation verbs, remove the ‘-re’ from the infinitive form of the verb to get the stem as above, but this time, for fourth conjugation verbs only, add ‘-e’ to the stem. Then add the relevant endings.

For example:

The stem for duco, ducere, duxi, ductum (3) ‘to lead’ would be ‘duce’.

The stem for audio, audire, audivi, auditum (4) ‘to hear’ would be ‘audi’ + ‘-e’ = audie.

Exception

Note that for the first person singular of conjugations three and four, the vowel ‘-a’ should be used instead of ‘-e’.

Future passive of duco, ducere, duxi, ductum (3) to lead

Latin English
ducar I will be led
duceris you will be led
ducetur he/she/it will be led
ducemur we will be led
ducemini you will be led
ducentur they will be led

Future passive of audio, audire, audivi, auditum (4) to hear

Latin English
audiar I will be heard
audieris you will be heard
audietur he/she/it will be heard
audiemur we will be heard
audiemini you will be heard
audientur they will be heard

Forming the passive 2

Handy hint

To form the perfect passive, pluperfect passive and future perfect passive tense change the ‘-m’ ending of the supine to ‘-s’ to form the past participle.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1)  vocatus, -a, -um

Remember that a past participle must agree with the word it modifies in gender, number and case and it declines like ‘bonus, -a, -um’ .

Perfect passive tense

Add the present tense of the verb sum, esse, fui, -, ‘to be’ to the past participle.

Present passive of voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

Latin English
vocatus, vocata, vocatum sum I have been called, I was called
vocatus, vocata, vocatum es you have been called, you were called
vocatus, vocata, vocatum est he/she/it has been called, he/she/it was called
vocati, vocate, vocata sumus we have been called, we were called
vocati, vocate, vocata estis you have been called, you were called
vocati, vocate, vocata sunt they have been called, they were called

Handy hint

Often you will find that the perfect tense of the verb ‘sum’, ‘esse’, ‘fui, – ’‘to be’, is used instead of the present tense.

Pluperfect passive tense

Handy hint

To form the perfect passive, pluperfect passive and future perfect passive tense change the ‘-m’ ending of the supine to ‘-s’ to form the past participle.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1)  vocatus, -a, -um

Remember that a past participle must agree with word it modifies in gender, number and case and it declines like ‘bonus, -a, -um’ .

To form the pluperfect passive tense use the past participle like the other tenses in this group, but with the imperfect tense of the verb sum, esse, fui, -, ‘to be’.

For example

Latin English
vocatus, vocata, vocatum eram I had been called
vocatus, vocata, vocatum eras you had been called
vocatus, vocata, vocatum erat he/she/it had been called
vocati, vocate, vocata eramus we had been called
vocati, vocate, vocata eratis you had been called
vocati, vocate, vocata erant they had been called

Future perfect passive tense

Handy hint

To form the perfect passive, pluperfect passive and future perfect passive tense change the ‘-m’ ending of the supine to ‘-s’ to form the past participle.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1)  vocatus, -a, -um

Remember that a past participle must agree with word it modifies in gender, number and case and it declines like ‘bonus, -a, -um’ .

To form the future perfect passive tense use the past participle like the other tenses in this group, but with the future tense of the verb sum, esse, fui, -, ‘to be’.

For example

Latin English
vocatus, vocata, vocatum ero I will have been called
vocatus, vocata, vocatum eris you will have been called
vocatus, vocata, vocatum erit he/she/it will have been called
vocati, vocate, vocata erimus we will have been called
vocati, vocate, vocata eritis you will have been called
vocati, vocate, vocata erunt they will have been called

Checklist

Are you confident with

  • the meaning of a present passive tense?
  • the form of a present passive tense?
  • the meaning of an imperfect passive tense?
  • the form of an imperfect passive tense?
  • the meaning of a future passive tense?
  • the form of a future passive tense?
  • the meaning of a perfect passive tense?
  • the form of a perfect passive tense?
  • the meaning of a pluperfect passive tense?
  • the form of a pluperfect passive tense?
  • the meaning of a future perfect passive tense?
  • the form of a future perfect passive tense?

What next?