Passive

Introduction

The passive voice (compared to the active voice) emphasizes an action. Who or what causes the action is not important, unknown or is thought to be general knowledge.

Beispiel

  • Kion faras la ambulanco ĉi tie? Ĉu okazis akcidento?
  • Jes, viro estas trafita de flava aŭto. La vundito estas helpita de flegistoj kaj nun li estas portata en malsanulejon, kie li estos plukuracota.
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Usage

We emphasize an action with the passive voice. The doer – person or thing who causes or carries out the action – is not emphasized and can, therefore, be left out completely (we can mention the doer with de).

ActivePassive
Flava aŭto trafis viron.A yellow car hit a man. Viro estas trafita (de flava aŭto).A man was hit (by a yellow car).
Flegistoj helpis la vunditon.Paramedics helped the injured man. La vundito estas helpita (de flegistoj).The injured man was helped (by paramedics).
Per ambulanco la flegistoj nun portas la viron en malsanulejon.An ambulance took the man to the hospital. Per ambulanco la viro nun estas portata en malsanulejon (de flegistoj). The man is being taken to the hospital in an ambulance (by the paramedics.
Tie kuracisto plukuracos lin.There a doctor will continue to treat him. Tie li estos plukuracota (de kuracisto).There he will be treated further (by a doctor).

Construction

We use a form of esti and the passive participle of the main the main verb. The passive participle must match the subject of the sentence in number, so we use the plural ending (-j) where appropriate.

Example:
Viro estas trafita.A man was hit.
Du viroj estas trafitaj.Two men were hit.
Viro kaj virino estas trafitaj.A man and a woman were hit.

When constructing the passive, we have to pay attention to the perspective. Does the action take place in the present (estas), past (estis) or future (estos)? Is it currently taking place (-at-), has it already taken place (-it-) or is it about to take place (-ot-)?

Below, we explain what the individual combinations of the forms of esti (estas/estis/estos) and participles (-at-/-it-/-ot-) mean.

Present

We use the the present tense of esti (estas) to refer to present time. The participle forms express whether the action is in progress (at), has already taken place (it) or is about to take place (ot).

ExampleMeaning
La viro estas portata en malsanulejon.The man is being taken to hospital. The action is currently in progress.
La viro estas portita en malsanulejon.The man has been taken to the hosiptal./The man was taken to hospital. The action has already taken place.
La viro estas portota en malsanulejon.The man is about to be taken to hospital. The action is about to take place.

Past

We use the past tense of esti (estis) to refer to past events. The participle forms express whether the action was in progress (at), had already taken place (it) or was about to take place (ot).

ExampleMeaning
Kiam la polico alvenis, la viro estis portata en malsanulejon.When the police arrived, the man was being taken to hospital. Action was in progress at that particular moment in the past.
Kiam la polico alvenis, la viro estis portita en malsanulejon.When the police arrived, the man had already been taken to hospital. At that moment in the past the action had already taken place.
Kiam la polico alvenis, la viro estis portota en malsanulejon.When the police arrived, the man was about to be taken to hospital. At that moment in the past the action was about to take place.

Future

We use the future tense of esti (estos) to refer to future actions. The participle forms express whether the action will be in progress (at), will have already taken place (it) or will be about to take place (ot).

ExampleMeaning
Kiam la polico alvenos, la viro estos portata en malsanulejon.When the police arrive, the man will be being taken to hospital. Action will be in progress at this moment in the future.
Kiam la polico alvenos, la viro estos portita en malsanulejon.When the police arrive, he will already have been taken to hospital. At this moment in the future the action will have already taken place.
Kiam la polico alvenos, la viro estos portota en malsanulejon.When the police arrive, the man will be about to be taken to hospital. At this moment in the future the action will be about to take place.

Conditional

We use the conditional tense of esti (estus) when we are refering to a condition (see: Conditional Clauses). The participle forms express whether the action would be in progress (at), would have already taken place (it) or would be about to take place (ot).

ExampleMeaning
Se la ambulanco estus alveninta pli rapida, la viro jam estus portata en malsanulejon.If the ambulance had arrived faster, the man would be being taken to hospital now. The action would be in progress.
Se la ambulanco estus alveninta pli rapida, la viro jam estus portita en malsanulejon.If the ambulance had arrived faster, the man would have already been taken to hospital. The action would already have taken place.
Se la ambulanco estus alveninta pli rapida, la viro jam estus portota en malsanulejon.If the ambulance had arrived faster, the man would be about to be taken to hospital. The action would be about to take place.

Passive with Modal Verbs

If the passive is constructed with a modal verb (devi, povi etc.), we add the corresponding tense ending to the modal verb and use esti in the infinitve form. The participle form we use (at, it, ot) depends on the situation. Not all combinations make sense.

Example:
Li povas esti portota al malsanulejo.He can be taken to hospital soon.

Everything is ready, it is about to happen.

Li volis esti portita al malsanulejo.He wanted to be taken to hospital.

He’s in hospital now and that was what he wanted..

Li devus esti portata al malsanulejo.He should be taken to hospital.

He should be on the way to hospital.