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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,
especially in English, where the passive voiced is used much more
than in Spanish.

CONSTRUCTION OF THE PASSIVE VOICE


The structure of the passive voice is very simple:
subject + auxiliary verb (be) + main verb (past participle) +
complem.
Peter +

was +

employed +

by this company.

The main verb is always in its past participle form.


Look at these examples:
subject

auxiliary verb
(to be)

main verb (past


participle)

Water

Is

drunk

by everyone.

100
people

Are

Employed

by this
company.

Am

paid

in euro.

We

Are

not Paid

Are

They

paid

in dollars.
in yen?

THE USE OF BY
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

continuous

perfect simple

perfect

to be washed
present

It is washed.

Past

It was washed.

Future

It will be washed.

conditional

It would be washed.

present

It is being washed.

Past

It was being washed.

Future

It will be being washed.

conditional

It would be being washed.

present

It has been washed.

Past

It had been washed.

Future

It will have been washed.

conditional

It would have been washed.

present

It has been being washed.

continuous

Past

It had been being washed.

Future

It will have been


being washed.

Condicional

It would have been


being washed.

USE OF THE PASSIVE VOICE


We use the passive when:

we want to make the active object more important

Ex. President Kennedy was killed by Lee H. Oswald.

we do not know the active subject

Ex. My wallet has been stolen.

we wish to make an statement sound impersonal (perhaps out


of modesty, or when we have some unpleasant statement to
make).

Ex. The new adjustments that will be introduced wont be


very popular.

THE USE OF IMPERSONAL IT


Another type of sentence in the passive is that consisting of
Subject+Verb (say, feel, expect, etc.)+Noun clause Object:
Ex. (Active): Someone says that he knows very influential people
Ex. (Passive): It is said that he knows some very influential
people.
This sentence can be substituted by another one where the subject
of the noun clause can be made the subject of the whole sentence
and the verb takes the infinitive form.

Ex. He is said to know very influential people.

SENTENCES WITH TWO OBJECTS


There is one particular construction in the passive that may appear
strange. In a sentence like the following, there are two objects, one
direct and one indirect:
Ex. (Active voice) The crowd gave the King a great reception.
IO
DO
If this is expressed in the passive, we generally make the indirect
object the subject, especially as the indirect object in this type of
sentence is personal, and we tend to be more interested in persons
than things.
Ex. (Passive) The King was given a great reception by the
crowd.
Subject
DO
There are occasions, however, when we wish to make the direct
object the subject (or the "focus of interest") of the passive
construction. In such cases, we would give more importance to what
is done than to whom it is done:
Ex. (Active)We will offer a high salary to a really suitable applicant.
Ex. (Passive) A high salary will be offered to a really suitable
applicant.