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Passive Voice

Passive Voice
The passive voice is less usual than the active voice. The active voice is the "normal" voice. But sometimes we need the passive voice. In this lesson we look at how to construct the passive voice, when to use it and how to conjugate it.

Construction of the Passive Voice


The structure of the passive voice is very simple: subject + auxiliary verb (be) + main verb (past participle) The main verb is always in its past participle form. Look at these examples:

subject

auxiliary verb (to be) is are

main verb (past participle) drunk employed by everyone. by this company. in euro. in dollars. in yen?

Water 100 people I We Are

am are they

paid not paid paid

Use of the Passive Voice


We use the passive when:

we want to make the active object more important we do not know the active subject

Passive Voice

Verb subject President Kennedy My wallet

object was killed has been stolen. by Lee Harvey Oswald.

give importance to active object (President Kennedy) active subject unknown

Note that we always use by to introduce the passive object (Fish are eaten by cats). Look at this sentence:

He was killed with a gun.

Normally we use by to introduce the passive object. But the gun is not the active subject. The gun did not kill him. He was killed by somebody with a gun. In the active voice, it would be: Somebody killed him with a gun. The gun is the instrument. Somebody is the "agent" or "doer".

Conjugation for the Passive Voice


We can form the passive in any tense. In fact, conjugation of verbs in the passive tense is rather easy, as the main verb is always in past participle form and the auxiliary verb is always be. To form the required tense, we conjugate the auxiliary verb. So, for example:

present simple: It is made present continuous: It is being made present perfect: It has been made

Here are some examples with most of the possible tenses: infinitive Simple present past future to be washed It is washed. It was washed. It will be washed.

conditional It would be washed. continuous present It is being washed.

Passive Voice
past future It was being washed. It will be being washed.

conditional It would be being washed. perfect simple present past future It has been washed. It had been washed. It will have been washed.

conditional It would have been washed. perfect continuous present past future It has been being washed. It had been being washed. It will have been being washed.

conditional It would have been being washed.

Passive Voice - Exercises on Form


Write passive sentences in Simple Present. the documents / print ___________________________________ the window / open ___________________________________ the shoes / buy ___________________________________ the car / wash ___________________________________ the litter / throw away ___________________________________ the letter / send ___________________________________ the book / read / not ___________________________________ the songs / sing / not ___________________________________ the food / eat / not ___________________________________ the shop / close / not ___________________________________

Passive Voice Exercise on Passive Voice - Present Progressive

Rewrite the sentences in passive voice. 1. Sheila is drinking a cup of tea ______________________________________ 2. My father is washing the car. ______________________________________ 3. Farmer Joe is milking the cows ______________________________________ 4. She is taking a picture of him ______________________________________ 5. I am writing a poem. ______________________________________ 6. We are not playing football ______________________________________ 7. He is not wearing a tie. ______________________________________ 8. Is she preparing the party? ______________________________________ 9. Are they talking about the meeting? ______________________________________ 10. Is she watering the flowers? ______________________________________

Passive Voice - Exercises on Form Write passive sentences in Simple Past.

the test / write ______________________________________ the table / set ______________________________________ the cat / feed ______________________________________ the lights / switch on ______________________________________ the house / build ______________________________________ dinner / serve ______________________________________ this computer / sell / not ______________________________________ the car / stop / not ______________________________________ the tables / clean / not ______________________________________