Below is the quote from Le Mariage de Figaro:

Il fallait un calculateur, ce fut un danseur qui l'obtint.

So the author was intended to express that a dancer was employed or obtained in a passive voice, right? Why not s'obtint? Please explain it to me in English, many thanks!

1 Answer 1


Le désespoir m'allait saisir ; on pense à moi pour une place, mais par malheur j'y étais propre : il fallait un calculateur, ce fut un danseur qui l'obtint.

Ce fut un danseur qui obtint la place de calculateur. → Ce fut un danseur qui l'obtint.

l' is the direct object personal pronoun that stands for la place de calculateur.

(A dancer got the job (it), (and not Figaro).

There is no passive voice in that sentence. The verb used is obtenir. We would have a passive voice with the verb s'obtenir(reflexive) in for example:

Ce travail s'obtient sans qualification.

which means the same as:

Ce travail est obtenu sans qualification.

(You can get this job without qualification.)

  • @Lambie The word le is a personal pronoun. (There are several words spelled le, the one in this sentence is the one that is a personal pronoun.) Its function in the sentence is a direct object. Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 0:36
  • @Gilles Je le sais, Et je vous dis à tous les deux, en anglais on dit: direct object pronoun. On ne dit pas: object personal pronoun. Voilà, c'est tout. Et je m'excuse d'avoir parlé de faute orthographique....
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 15:27
  • @Lambie Don't say en anglais on dit ou we say because you do not represent the English language all to yourself. "Quirk" has of course personal pronouns, a lot of grammar books use the terms of object personnal pronouns
    – None
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 15:58
  • or subject personal pronouns. Other sorts of pronouns can be subjects or objects in the sentence... "Mine is very old", "I like that/yours" "What are you saying?" "Don't tell anyone" etc.
    – None
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 15:59
  • @Laure Can't argue with perfection. If that is what one is striving for, no matter the method.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 16:29

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