French is understood in Canada.


Senior Member
I saw a text written like this:

French is understood in Canada.

Shouldn't it be like "French is spoken in Canada."?
  • hydsky

    Senior Member
    of course it's different, but is it okay to write as passive like the given sentence above?
    e.g. people in Canada understand French.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Yes, it's OK to make French the passive subject of a sentence. :)

    You are correct in thinking that we would usually say "People in Canada understand French", but in certain contexts someone might prefer the passive form for stylistic reasons.


    Senior Member
    Just a note:
    'People in Canada understand French' is, of course, simply not true. [I realize Cagey was simply making a grammatical point, but it's relevant to address factual issues, I think. See below.]

    French is understood in Canada,

    is true with the qualification: in official, esp. federal government situations; this is to say that a person has a right to be served in French [=French is to be understood, should one use it in speaking to a representative of the federal government]. This is closer to 'understood' [e.g. in making a request], than 'people speaking,' though all federal employees dealing with the public in most areas, must 'get by' as least speaking French.

    Of course what the quoted sentence is likely trying to say is, "French is an official language in Canada." This includes the existence of French versions of all key documents related to federal functioning.

    Again, none of this relates to Cagey's formidable knowledge of the English language. I'm simply, as a Canadian resident, letting the OP know of some possibly relevant facts.


    American English
    You could probably get away with "French is understood in Quebec", but that's about it.
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