The passive form

We generally use the verb essere (to be) + past participle + da (by) to express something that happens passively.

Le piadine sono mangiate da Ciro.

The flatbreads are eaten by Ciro.

Le tigelle sono fatte dalla chef Carlotta.

The muffins are made by chef Carlotta.

The form of essere used should be in the same tense as the active phrase.

Il gatto mangerà un topo (futuro) → Un topo sarà mangiato dal gatto (sarà  = futuro).

The cat will eat a mouse (future) → A mouse will be eaten by the cat (sarà  = future).

Il gatto ha mangiato un topo (passato prossimo) → Un topo è stato mangiato dal gatto (è stato mangiato = passato prossimo).

The cat has eaten a mouse (perfect tense) → A mouse has been eaten by the cat (è stato mangiato = perfect tense).

The participle agrees with the subject in both gender (♂♀) and number (singular or plural).

Il quadro fu dipinto da Botticelli.

The picture was painted by Botticelli. (Quadro is a masculine noun, so dipinto has the masculine ending -o, rather than the feminine ending -a.)

La sciarpa sarà tessuta a mano.

The scarf will be woven by hand.

The da is fused with any definite article (il, la, etc.) that follows it.

La pizzaiola ha cucinato la pizza → La pizza è stata cucinata dalla pizzaiola. 

The pizzamaker has cooked the pizza → The pizza has been cooked by the pizzamaker. 


  • The passive form is used to emphasize the person or thing to which the action is being done, rather than the person or thing who is doing the action.

Gabriele Muccino ha diretto il film.  Il film è stato diretto da Gabriele Muccino.

Gabriele Muccino directed the film. → The film was directed by Gabriele Muccino.

  • It is not always clear, in the passive form, exactly who is performing the action in question.

Tutti i voli sono stati cancellati (non si sa da chi).

All flights have been canceled (we don't know by whom).

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