You are on page 1of 2

Passive Voice

Form: to be + past participle (3rd form of the verb)
Transitive and intransitive verbs
- Verbs which have objects are called ‘transitive verbs’  A young man helped the old lady across the road. (old lady = the object)
- Verbs which do not have objects are called intransitive verbs  Diane walks to college.
- Only transitive verbs can be made passive  The old lady was helped across the road by a young man.
- Some transitive verbs cannot be made passive: become, fit, have, lack, let, like, resemble, suit
 to move important information to the beginning of the sentence
 The new swimming pool has just been opened.
 to change focus => the passive can change the emphasis of a sentence  John won the prize. (focus on John) / The prize was won by John. (focus on the prize)
 to be impersonal in a scientific or technical process  The plastic casings are produced in China.
 when the performer of the action is general (e.g. people) or obvious from the context, or unimportant, or is intentionally not named  All pupils are taught computer skills. / The match has been
cancelled. / The workers have been told that the factory will close next week.
→ we can also use it + passive decide to show an impersonal decision  It has been decided to close the factory.
Using by and with
- the person or organisation that does the action is called ‘the agent’ => when wanting to say who does the action we use by  The Government built hundreds of houses last year. / Hundreds of
houses were built by the Government last year.
- the thing that is used to perform an action is called ‘the instrument’ => if we want to include this we use with  John broke the windows with a baseball bat. / The windows were broken by John
with a baseball bat.
Verbs with two objects  verbs such as bring, give, lend, pass, pay, promise, sell, send, show, tell can be made passive in two ways  They gave Sarah a prize.  Sarah was given a prize. / A prize
was given to Sarah.
Verbs with object and complement  some verbs have an adjective or noun phrase as a complement. When they are made passive, the complements still follow the verb
e.g. People consider her attractive. / She is considered attractive.
They elected Jim class representative. / Jim was elected class representative.
Verbs and prepositions  when a prepositional verb is made passive, the preposition goes at the end of the sentence and has no object  Someone is looking after the children. / The children are
being looked after.
Make  the passive forms of make are followed by to-infinitive  They made Helen write the test again. / Helen was made to write the test again.
See, hear, feel  see, hear, feel, watch, notice etc have different meanings when followed by bare infinitive or ing  I saw him leave. (completed) / I saw him leaving. (incomplete)


going to  She’s going to have a tooth taken out. chosen etc. USE  to describe a service performed by someone for us or to describe something unfortunate that happens to someone  We had our house painted last year.  we may also mention the place where we have things done  I have my hair cut at my local hairdresser’s. either in present simple or past simple form with a to-infinitive. believe. know etc. They are introduced by a passive form of the report verb. (= I managed to do it in the end) Get someone to do something / have someone do something  I got him to check the figures a second time just to make sure. past reference  we use a present reporting verb and refer to a state or action in the past  The robbers are thought to have stolen more than £3 million.  past verb. or past. present reference  we use a present reporting verb and refer to a state or action in the present  The patient is said to be as well as can be expected. arrested.  He’s getting his nose altered. / She had her house broken into. Smith was believed to have taken the car by mistake.Hearsay reports  describe what people say. past simple  I had my hair cut a week ago. / He’s got his nose altered. but not for present perfect.  past verb.  He got arrested on the way out of the stadium. Get meaning manage  used with a sense of achieving something  I got my work finished in the end. The report can refer to the present. Have and get something done.  we don’t mention the agent unless this is important  I’m going to have my photograph taken by a top fashion photographer. / I got accepted for the job! 2 . the Prime Minister was said to be undecided. or I had him check the figures a second time just to make sure. reference to time of reporting  we use a past reporting verb and refer to a state or action at the time the report was made  Last week. consider. and are often used in news reporting. reference before time of reporting  we use a past reporting verb and refer to a state or action at the time before the report was made  Mr.most common tenses: present continuous  We’re having our flat decorated. report. accepted. think. present perfect  He has had his nose altered. Get married  get also forms expressions with married.  GET SOMETHING DONE  in everyday speech we often use get instead of have for present continuous and past simple. or a time before the time of reporting  present verb.  present verb. Infinitive  We want to have our car repaired. other uses of get  HAVE SOMETHING DONE (causative have)  have + object + past participle .