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THE PASSIVE VOICE

We use Passive Voice when our focus is on the action, not on the person who did it.
The most important thing on the sentence, in this tense, is the action, not the subject.
For example:
My watch was stolen.
There, we are highlighting the fact that the watch disappeared, without caring who
might have taken it.
When speaking or writing in Passive Voice, we can follow these basic rules:
 The object of the active sentence is the subject of the passive voice.
 The verb of the active sentence has to be changed to its participle form,
depending on the tense of the active sentence.
 The subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive voice,
or is completely dropped.
Examples:
Tense Subject Verb Object
Simple Active Joanne writes the essay.
present
Passive The essay is written by Joanne.*
Simple past Active Joanne wrote the essay.
Passive The essay Was written by Joanne.*
Present Active Joanne Has written the essay.
perfect
Passive The essay Has been by Joanne.*
written
*If you want to mention the subject, use “by” in your sentence.
We also use Passive Voice in the following situations:
 When we don’t know the subject, or the subject isn’t important.
Someone cleaned the living room
The room was cleaned.
 When it is obvious to the listener or the reader who the subject is.
The cleaner cleaned the room
The room was cleaned.
SIMPLE PRESENT
In the present, the passive voice uses the verbs “is” and “are” + the past participle
of the main verb.

The passive voice present is often used to describe:

 Processes.
 General thoughts, opinions, and beliefs

A. Affirmative statements
Object + am / is / are + verb in past participle + complement.
o Examples:
o Active: The gardener waters the flowers every evening.
o Passive: The flowers are watered by the gardener every evening.
o Active: Many people read this writer’s article.
o Passive: This writer’s article is read by many people.
o Active: My mother paints the walls.
o Passive: The walls are painted by my mother.

B. Negative statements
Object + am / is / are + not + verb in past participle + complement.
o Examples:
o Active: The gardener doesn’t water the flowers every evening.
o Passive: The flowers aren’t watered by the gardener every evening.
Active: Many people don’t read this writer’s article.
Passive: This writer’s article is not read by many people.
o Active: My mother doesn’t paint the walls.
o Passive: The walls are not painted by my mother.

C. Interrogative statements
Am / is / are + object + verb in past participle + complement?
o Examples:
o Active: Does the gardener water the flowers every evening?
o Passive: Are the flowers watered by the gardener every evening?
o Active: Do many people read this writer’s article?
o Passive: Is this writer’s article read by many people?
o

SIMPLE PAST

In the past, the passive voice uses the verbs “was” and “were” + past participle of
the main verb.
The passive voice past is often used to describe:

 Events in history
 Crimes / Accidents

A. Affirmative statements
Object + was / were + verb in past participle + complement.
o Examples:
o Active: She sang a song.
o Passive: A song was sung by her.
o Active: Somebody hit me.
o Passive: I was hit by somebody.
o Active: We stopped the bus.
o Passive: The bus was stopped by us.

B. Negative statements
Object + was / were + not + verb in past participle + complement.
o Examples:
o Active: She didn’t sing a song.
o Passive: A song wasn’t sung by her.
o Active: They didn’t let him go.
o Passive: He was not let go by them.
o Active: We didn’t stop the bus.
o Passive: The bus wasn’t stopped by us.

C. Interrogative statements
Was / were + object + verb in past participle + complement?
o Examples:
o Active: Did you tell them?
o Passive: Were they told by you?
o Active: Did he send the letter?
o Passive: Was the letter sent by him?

o
SIMPLE FUTURE

Something is done by someone in the future.


Active: Subject + will/shall + first form of the verb + object
Passive: Object of the active sentence + will/shall + be + past participle form of the
verb + by + subject of the active sentence

o Examples
o Active: We will take the horses to the stable.
o Passive: The horses will be taken to the stable.
o Active: Will the boss give me a job?
o Passive: Will I be given a job by the boss?

A. Changing a negative sentence into the passive


o Example:
i. Active: She will not help us.
ii. Passive: We will not be helped by her.

B. Changing an Interrogative sentence into the passive


o Example:
i. Active: Will you help him?
ii. Passive: Will he be helped by you?

PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE


Subject + to be (conjugated)+ past participle+ rest of sentence
A. Affirmative
o Examples
i. Active: I am writing a poem.
ii. Passive: A poem is being written by me.
iii. Active: Julie is drinking a cup of tea.
iv. Passive: A cup of tea is being drunk by Julie.
v. Active: My father is washing the car.
vi. Passive: The car is being washed by my father.
B. Negative
o Examples
i. Active: I am not writing a poem.
ii. Passive: A poem is not being written by me.
iii. Active: Julie is not drinking a cup of tea
iv. Passive: A cup of tea is not being drunk by Julie
v. Active: My father is not washing the car.
vi. Passive: The car is not being washed by my father.
vii.
C. Interrogative
o Examples
i. Active: Am I writing a poem?
ii. Passive: Is a poem being written by me?
iii. Active: Is Julie drinking a cup of tea?
iv. Passive: Is a cup of tea being drunk by Julie?
v. Active: Is my father washing the car?
vi. Passive: Is the car being washed by my father?

PAST CONTINUOUS TENSE


Subject + to be (conjugated) + past participle + rest of sentence
A. Affirmative
o Example
i. Active: I was repairing their bikes.
ii. Passive: Their bikes were being repaired by me.
iii. Active: Louis was feeding the dogs.
iv. Passive: The dogs were being fed by Louis.
v. Active: My parents were reading these lines.
vi. Passive: These lines were being read by my parents.
vii.
B. Negative
o Example
i. Active: I was not repairing their bikes.
ii. Passive: Their bikes were not being repaired by me.
iii. Active: Louis wasn’t feeding the dogs.
iv. Passive: The dogs weren’t being fed by Louis.
v. Active: My parents were not reading these lines.
vi. Passive: These lines were not being read by my parents.
vii.
C. Interrogative
o Example
i. Active: Was I repairing their bikes?
ii. Passive: Were their bikes being repaired by me?
iii. Active: Was Louis feeding the dogs?
iv. Passive: Were the dogs being fed by Louis?
v. Active: Were my parents reading these lines?
vi. Passive: Were these lines being read by my parents?

FUTURE CONTINUOUS TENSE


Subject + to be (conjugated) + past participle+ rest of sentence
A. Affirmative
o Example
i. Active: I will be cleaning my room in winter.
ii. Passive: My room will be being cleaned in winter.
iii. Active: My mom will be preparing dinner.
iv. Passive: The dinner will be being prepared by my mom.
v.
B. Negative
o Example
i. Active: I won’t be cleaning my room in winter.
ii. Passive: My room won’t be being cleaned in winter.
iii. Active: My mom won’t be preparing dinner.
iv. Passive: The dinner won’t be being prepared by my mom.
C. Interrogative
o Example
i. Active: Will I be cleaning my room in winter?
ii. Passive: Will my room be being cleaned by me in winter?
iii. Active: Will my mom be preparing the dinner?
iv. Passive: Will the dinner be being prepared by my mom?
v.
vi.
PRESENT PERFECT

Something has been done by someone at sometime up to now.


Active: Subject + has/have + past participle form of the verb + object
Passive: Object of the active sentence + has/have + been + past participle form of
the verb + by + subject of the active sentence
o Examples:
o Active: They have cleaned the clinic.
o Passive: The clinic has been cleaned by them.
o Active: Have the police caught the man?
o Passive: Has the man been caught by the police?
o Active: I have written a story.
o Passive: A story has been written by me.

A. Changing a negative sentence into the passive


o Examples:
i. Active: I have not received a telegram.
ii. Passive: A telegram has not been received by me.
iii. Active: She has not written a story.
iv. Passive: A story has not been written by her.

B. Changing an interrogative sentence into the passive


o Examples:
i. Active: Have you kept the secret?
ii. Passive: Has the secret been kept by you?
iii. Active: Who has done this?
iv. Passive: By whom has this been done?
v. Active: Why have you told a lie?
vi. Passive: Why has a lie been told by you?

In the present perfect tense, we make passive verb forms by putting has/have +
been before the past participle form of the verb.
o Examples:
Active:
 I have finished the job.
 The cat has drunk the milk.
 The girls have plucked the flowers.
 I have watched that movie.
Passive:
 The job has been finished by me.
 The milk has been drunk by the cat.
 The flowers have been plucked by the girls.
 That movie has been watched by me.
PAST PERFECT

A. Affirmative sentences:
Object +had been+ past participle form of the verb + by + subject of active
sentence
o Examples:
o Active: I had never experienced such difficulty.
o Passive: Such difficulty had never been experienced by me.
o Active: I had not listened to him.
o Passive: He had not been listened to by me.
o Active: I had finished my work.
o Passive: My work had been finished by me.

B. Negative sentences:
Object of the active sentence + hadn´t + been + past participle form of the
verb+ by + subject of the active sentence
o Examples:
o Active: They had not won the cricket match.
o Passive: The cricket match hadn’t been won by them.
o Active: I hadn’t written a letter.
o Passive: A letter hadn’t been written by me.
C. Interrogative sentences
Had+ object + been + past participle form of the verb+ by subject of the
active sentence + interrogative sign
o Examples:
o Active: Had she prepared dinner?
o Passive: Had dinner been prepared by her?
o Active: Had she invited them?
o Passive: Had they been invited by her?
o Active: Had he given a lecture?
o Passive: Had a lecture been given by him?
i.

FUTURE PERFECT:
The future perfect is composed of two elements
the simple future of the verb "to have" (will have) + the past participle of the main
verb
o Example
o He will have finished
passive
Subject + will + have been + participle+ Sentence
o Examples
o Active: Alice will have done the shopping. (active voice)
o Passive: The shopping will have been done by Alice. (passive voice)
o Active: I shall have learnt the lesson. (active voice)
o Passive: The lesson will have been learnt by me. (passive voice)
o Active: The children will have seen the show. (active voice)
o Passive: The show will have been seen by the children. (passive
voice)
INFINITIVES
The passive infinitive is used in some constructions using the passive voice. It is
particularly common after auxiliary verbs (may, should, could) to indicate what is
possible or what is correct. The passive infinitive is formed:

to be + past participle
o Examples
o Active: I am expecting to be given a pay-rise next month.
o Passive: Next month a pay-rise is expected to be given by me.
o Active: She is hoping to be elected president.
o Passive: To be elected a president is been hoped by her.
o
i.
PERSON IN THE OBJECT POSITION

We can also formulate passive sentences with a person in object position.

o Examples:
o Active: Somebody pushed me.
o Passive: I was pushed.
o Active: They have invited us.
o Passive: We have been invited.
o Active: Someone was interviewing Jane.
o Passive: Jane was being interviewed.

PERSON AND A OBJECT IN THE OBJECT POSITION


Some sentences have both an object and person in the object position. You
can choose either one to formulate the passive sentence.
o Examples:
o Active: Someone handed me a note
o Passive: I was handed a note. / A note was handed to me.
o Active: They have sent us a copy.
o Passive: We have been sent a copy. / A copy has been sent
to us.
IMPERSONAL PASSIVE
We place “it” as the subject

We make the normal Passive in the first verb. The rest of the sentence doesn’t
change

o Examples:
It is claimed that the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the
world.
o It is believed that it is an important discovery.
Past
o It´s thought that you lived in London.
o It´s believed that John Lennon was a great musician.
Past Progressive
o It´s Thought that the government was building new schools.
Future
o It´s believed that the factory will make profit soon

SPECIAL NOTES
Note 1: There are some verbs that don’t take an object. The sentences can be
perfectly understood without an object. These verbs are “Intransitive Verbs”.
Ana slept well.
This type of sentences can’t be changed to Passive Voice. Other examples of
intransitive verbs: die, arrive, go.
Note 2: If the active sentence starts with no one or nobody, the passive voice will be
negative.
No one turned on the TV.
The TV wasn’t turned on.
Note 3: If there is a preposition between the verb and the object, the preposition will
remain after the verb.
They talked about the issue.
The issue was talked about.
COMMON MISTAKES
1. Changing the tense to a similar tense.
The incidents were reported.
Someone has reported the incidents.
The incidents have been reported.

A church will be built.


They are going to build a church.
A church is going to be built.

2. Forgetting the verb “to be”.


The incidents have reported.
Someone has reported the incidents.
The incidents have been reported.

A church is going to built.


They are going to build a church.
A church is going to be built.

3. Using the Present Continuous instead of the Past Participle.


The incidents have been reporting.
Someone has reported the incidents.
The incidents have been reported.
A church is going to be building.
They are going to build a church.
A church is going to be built.

4. Plural / singular confusion


The incidents had been reported.
Someone has reported the incidents
The incidents have been reported.

A church is going to be built.


They are going to build a church.
A church is going to be