Lv 5
gta asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

FRENCH: Indirect object in the active sentence?

Please, I read that: in French, you cannot say “The passengers will be offered a snack.” ... “because “passengers” is an indirect object in the active sentence.”

Instead, use:

A snack will be offered to the passengers:

Une collation sera offerte aux passengers.

[Booth, French Verb Tenses p. 289]

I do not understand the reasoning, so I wrote this rule for myself to use:

Don't begin a sentence with the recipient.

Is this rule helpful or will it fail me?



With respect, choosing a Best Answer may take a little time: I wait for the recommendations of readers.

Update 2:

My apologies: it is "passagers".

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It has to do with the prepositional verbs.

    You can say: Les passagers recevront une collation.

    les passagers = subject

    recevoir = verb

    une collation = direct object

    This is just another way to translate the sentence (as you know, we don't always translate literally). But, as you stated above, the problem comes when it's an indirect object.

    Une collation sera offerte aux passagers. (note: -agers, not -engers)

    une collation = subject

    offrir = verb

    aux passagers = indirect object... with a preposition (à)

    Reason: to offer to = offrir à

    The tricky part is that in English, the "to" is left out in the beginning of the sentence:

    (To) the passengers will be offered a snack = Aux passagers une collation sera offerte. (bad order in French, I just put it literally!)

    The "aux" is not left out in French, and cannot be put in the beginning of the sentence. So, basically, you are right with your rule about the recipients, but it's mainly because there is a preposition before the recipients.

    Source(s): native speaker
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    The tricky thing is converting English passives to other languages, actually. Normally, when you want to translate what is passive voice in English to French, you use the reciprocal verb in French. But that just won't work very well, in this instance. So, you just need to completely rework the sentence in the French, making the subject a different part of speech. That's what is really going on.

    It's not that you absolutely cannot make the recipient of an action into a subject. It's just that it sounds better this way.

    You see, the reciprocal verb is normally used to express the equivalent of our passive voice only for animate subjects. But a snack isn't normally animate -- unless it's what a tiger eats, like an antelope on the hoof. And who would be offering THAT kind of snack, and to WHAT kind of passengers???

    Also, please note that English passenger has that nasal consonant, "n" in it. But in French, it's "passager" without the "n" if going by sea or air (for a male) or passagere (with the accent grave over the first "e") if female; or a voyageur (if male) or voyageure (if female) if going by land -- at least according to the usually reliable Mansion's French-English dictionary.

    Source(s): Teacher of English to speakers of other languages; linguistics degree; 4 years high school French and 1 year in college, plus the ever handy Mansion's French-English Dictionary
  • 1 decade ago

    In french, your example would be a passive voice, as the passengers

    would offer a snack to themselves.

    Yes, if the indir. object is written or said first, indicates a passive voice,

    from passengers to passengers, got it???

    It's a matter of syntaxe.

    But you may say: les passagers vont se faire offrir un snack!

    This matches your question. Is very frenchy; I just recalled, fum

    bling and fishing in my mind! There you go, mate!


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    the rule of the indirect object is correct. It's the same thing with verbs like give, tell e.g:

    "I was told" will be "on m'a dit", with the impersonal "on" as when you say "I was told" you don't want to say who.

    I was given = On m'a donné

    "The passengers will be offered a snack", you can use "on" too = On offrira une collation aux passagers. But your sentence starting by "une collation" (direct object) is correct.

    Source(s): I'm French*
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Ok I will use dog for example, this may not be helpful cus I've kind of forgotten all this stuff, but aren't u able to say the snack was eaten by the dog? Isn't the same as saying the passanger will be offered a snack.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It is helpful, tu fais ce qui est correct!

  • Rodica
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    For me it's about passive an active voice.

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