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GRAMMAR POINT: THE PASSIVE VOICE

ACTIVE SENTENCES PASSIVE SENTENCES


The thing / person doing the action is the The thing receiving the action is the
subject (S) of the sentence and the thing subject of the sentence and the thing /
receiving the action is the object (O). person doing the action is mentioned (or
not!) at the end of the sentence.
Ex: John is washing the car.
(S) (O) Ex: The car is being washed (by John).
(S)

HOW TO FORM THE PASSIVE VOICE

PASSIVE = BE + Past Participle (PP)


PAST PARTICIPLE OF A PAST PARTICIPLE OF AN
REGULAR VERB IRREGULAR VERB

V + -ed 3rd column


Ex: invent > past participle = invented Ex: break > past participle = broken

Some common tenses used in the passive voice:

Present Simpleam / is / are + PPNice clothes are sold in this shop.Present Continuousam /
is / are being + PPHe is being taught how to drive.Past Simplewas / were + PPTom was
bitten by a snake.Past Continuouswas / were being + PPA story was being told when I
entered the room.Present perfecthave / has been + PPThe doctor has been called.Present
perfect Continuoushave / has been being + PPLately, all the work has been being done by
Kate.Past Perfecthad been + PPThe cake had already been eaten when we arrived.Past
Perfect Continuoushad been being+ PPThe restaurant's succulent meals had been being
prepared by Chef Hall for ten years before he retired. Future with WILLwill be + PPI hope he
will not be sent to prison.Future with GOING TOam / is / are going to be + PPTheir house is
going to be sold.Conditional 1would be + PPThese books would be read if there were
more pictures in them.Conditional 2would have been + PPA mail would have been sent if
there had been a computer.Modal ("present")modal + be + PPThe doctor must be called at
once.Modal ("past")modal + have been + PPHe should have been punished for that.
WHEN TO USE THE PASSIVE VOICE

We use the Passive Voice …


when we do not know the agent (= the person/thing that does / is doing / did … the
action).
Ex: My bike was stolen last weekend. (I don’t know who stole my bike.)
when the agent is not important.
Ex: The dishes are being washed. (the focus here is on the dishes, not on the
person who is washing the dishes.)
Note: When we want to add who or what did the action, we use by.
The dishes are being washed by John. (not Kate)
when the agent is obvious.
Ex:The thief was arrested yesterday. (Only the police can arrest thieves.)

OTHER REMARKS
Do not use by with a pronoun.
Ex: He has washed the car. → The car has been washed by him.

When an active sentence has two objects (a direct object and an indirect object), it
is possible to make two passive sentences.
Ex: Her boyfriend sent her a dozen roses for her birthday.
→ A dozen roses were sent to her (by her boyfriend) for her birthday.
→ She was sent a dozen roses for her birthday.

Impersonal Passive. Impersonal Passive is only possible with verbs of perception


(e. g. say, think, know).
Ex:They say that women are as intelligent as men.
→ It is said that women are as intelligent as men.
Note: You can also say:
→ Women are said to be as intelligent as men.

TIME TO PRACTISE!
Exercise 1: Transform into PASSIVE sentences. (Pay attention to the tense.)
Present Simple Tourists take many pictures of the Eiffel Tower.
_____________________________________________________
Present Simple Does your mother help you?
_____________________________________________________
Present Continuous Someone is cleaning your room, Sir.
_____________________________________________________
Present Continuous The children are painting a fresco at their school.
_____________________________________________________
1. Past Simple Burglars broke into her house.
_____________________________________________________
2. Past Simple Did they send the letter?
_____________________________________________________
3. Past Continuous He was telling a story when I arrived.
_____________________________________________________
4. Present Perfect They have eaten all the cookies.
_____________________________________________________
5. Present Perfect Has she typed the letter?
_____________________________________________________
6. Future with WILL Kate will buy a new dress.
_____________________________________________________
7. Future with WILL He will not repair her bike.
_____________________________________________________
8. Modal You must fill in this form.
_____________________________________________________
9. Modal He should leave the window open.
_____________________________________________________

Exercise 2: Transform into ACTIVE sentences. (Pay attention to the tense.).


1. Present Simple This restaurant is owned by the Jacksons.
_____________________________________________________
2. Present Continuous A new model is being tested.
_____________________________________________________
3. Past Simple Oliver Twist was written by Charles Dickens.
_____________________________________________________
4. Past Continuous The issue was being talked about when I entered the room.
_____________________________________________________
5. Present Perfect A terrible mistake has been made by our boss.
_____________________________________________________
6. Future with WILL He will be found guilty by the court.
_____________________________________________________
Exercise 3: Transform into two PASSIVE sentences.
1. They told me a lie. __________________________________________
__________________________________________
2. I have made you a cup of tea. __________________________________________
__________________________________________
3. Kate will give them some advice. __________________________________________
__________________________________________

Exercise 4: ACTIVE voice or PASSIVE voice?


1. Present Simple Italian ___________________ in this restaurant.
(SPEAK)
My father ___________________ 3 foreign languages.
2. Present Continuous We ___________________ our grandchildren to the zoo today.
(TAKE)
Their son ___________________ right away to the hospital.
3. Past Simple They ___________________ their grandparents last week.
(CALL)
The firemen ___________________ immediately.

4. Present Perfect They ___________________ a new virus.


(DISCOVER)
A new planet ___________________ in the solar system.
5. Future with WILL Don’t worry! Our secret ___________________.
(KEEP)
We ___________________ all our photos in this album.
6. Modal These trees must ___________________ now.
(PLANT)
If he wants a beautiful garden, he should ___________________
these flowers.
SOLUTIONS

Exercise 1: Transform into PASSIVE sentences.


1. Present Simple Many pictures of the Eiffel Tower are taken (by tourists).
2. Present Simple Are you helped by your mother?
3. Present Continuous Your room is being cleaned, Sir.
4. Present Continuous A fresco is being painted at their school.
5. Past Simple Her house was broken into.
6. Past Simple Was the letter sent?
7. Past Continuous A story was being told when I arrived.
8. Present Perfect All the cookies have been eaten.
9. Present Perfect Has the letter been typed?
10. Future with WILL A new dress will be bought.
11. Future with WILL Her bike will not be repaired.
12. Modal This form must be filled in.
13. Modal The window should be left open.
Exercise 2: Transform into ACTIVE sentences. (Pay attention to the tense.).
1. Present Simple The Jacksons own this restaurant.
2. Present Continuous They / He … are / is testing a new model.
3. Past Simple Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist.
4. Past Continuous They were talking about the issue when I entered the room.
5. Present Perfect Our boss has made a terrible mistake.
6. Future with WILL The court will find him guilty.
Exercise 3: Transform into two PASSIVE sentences.
1. They told me a lie. → I was told a lie.
→ A lie was told to me.

2. I have made you a cup of tea. → You have been made a cup of tea.
→ A cup of tea has been made for you.

3. Kate will give them some advice. → They will be given some advice (by Kate).
→ Some advice will be given to them (by Kate).
Exercise 4: ACTIVE voice or PASSIVE voice?
1. Present Simple Italian is spoken in this restaurant. (passive)
My father speaks 3 foreign languages. (active)
2. Present Continuous We are taking our grandchildren to the zoo today. (active)
Their son is being taken right away to the hospital. (passive)
3. Past Simple They called their grandparents last week. (active)
The firemen were called immediately. (passive)
4. Present Perfect They have discovered a new virus. (active)
A new planet has been discovered in the solar system. (passive)
5. Future with WILL Don’t worry! Our secret will be kept. (passive)
We will keep all our photos in this album. (active)
6. Modal These trees must be planted now. (passive)
If he wants a beautiful garden, he should plant these flowers. (active)