I recently received this sentence in an email, and I was unsure about the subtle difference between dire and se dire.

Nous essayons de donner une vision fidèle de ce qui s’est dit durant le conseil.

My initial assumption is that se dire is roughly 'to be said' with a focus on the language actually being spoken whereas dire focuses the attention on the speaker. Is avoir été dit not proper French?

  • 1
    The passive voice is one of the many meanings the reflexive can have, and has here, as you thought.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 13:30

2 Answers 2


yes, you could translate

ce qui s'est dit


what have been said

you could also say

... une vision fidèle de ce qui a été dit ...

but beware, in some case "il s'est dit" = "he told himself"
"Il s'est dit que ce serait une bonne idée" means "He told himself it would be a great idea"

  • So, that is to say that in this case, there is no significant difference between ce qui s'est dit and ce qui a été dit? Does one feel more natural than the other, or is it simply a matter of preference?
    – KGR
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 14:24
  • 2
    I think it is simply a matter of preference. For me there is no difference between the 2 forms. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 14:50

It is simply a difference in time-reference. In "s'est dit" we have the present tense in the passive format, whereas in "a été dit" we have "passé composé" in the passive format.

  • 2
    Il s'est dit is not present in passive mode (that would be Il est dit) but the verb se dire (pronominal) in passé composé tense.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 20:35
  • Yes, the present in the passive mode should be "il se dit". I think that "il est dit" is not very common because 'se dire" is a "pronominal" verb. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 4:06
  • That's not what's being questioned here. The question is about the difference between dire and se dire Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 3:51

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