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Date: Oct 28 2008

Topic: Grammar

Author: nad1a


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First of all, let's talk about the difference between Active and Passive Voice:

Active voice = the subject is acting, doing something

Passive vocie = the subject is “receiving” an action; someone or something does something to the subject


Journalists write articles. - Active voice

Journalists” is the subject here; Who writes? Journalists.

articles” is the object here – What do journalist write? Artciles.


So when turning Active Voice into Passive – the subject and the object change places.

Articles are written by journalists. - Passive Voice

Articles” is the subject here. What is written? Articles.

Journalists” is the object here. By whom are they written? By Journalists.





(1) FORM:


We form the passive using the Object (I, you , he, somebody or something etc) + form of the verb “BE” (depending on the tense) + past participle. That is, we just change the form of the verb 'be' according to the tense and we add the past participle.

Notice how the verb 'be' changes in the different tenses followed by the past participle:


He does the job. - Active, Present Simple

The job is done by him. - Passive, Present Simple

The jury is making a decision. - Active, Present Progressive

A decision is being made by the jury. - Passive, Present Progressive

My father has painted this picture. - Active, Present Perfect

This picture has been painted by my father. - Passive, Present Perfect.


He did the job. - Active, Past Simple

The job was done by him. - Passive, Past Simple

The jury was making a decision. - Active, Past Progressive

A decision was being made by the jury. - Passive, Past Progressive

My father had painted this picture. - Active, Past Perfect

This picture had been painted by my father. - Passive, Past Perfect.


He will do the job. - Active, Future Simple

The job will be done by him. - Passive, Future Simple

My father will have painted this picture. - Active, Future Perfect

This picture will have been painted by my father. - Passive, Future Perfect.


You cannot construct passive sentences in the Present Perfect Progressive, Future Progressive and Past Perfect Progressive:

The contract had been being revised.



Just like we change the verb 'to be' according to the tense, it can also take all the other possible verb forms:

INFINITIVE – 'to do something' is changed to 'something to be done'

You are to refuse the deal. - The deal is to be refused.

You have to refuse the deal. - The deal has to be refused.

PRESENT PARTICIPLE – 'doing something' is changed to 'being done'

He likes others challenging him. - He likes being challenged by others.

PERFECT -ING FORM – 'having done something' is changed to 'something having been done'

Having addressed the issue, they went on with the schedule for the meeting. - The issue having been addressed, they went on with the schedule for the meeting.

MODALS + be + past participle – 'should not have done something' is changed to 'should not have been done'

I'm sorry, we should not have left you alone. - I'm sorry, you should not have been left alone.

(2) USAGE:

The Passive Voice is often used in formal or scientific texts. We use it in formal talks, essays etc to make our speech more official or sophisticated.

We use the passive to construct sentences in which

2. 1

    (a) the agent (the person or thing performing an action) is known, unimportant or obvious.)
    The candidate's resume was examined, and he was called in for an interview.
    (It is obvious that a prospective employer performed this action.)
    All customer complaints must be dealt with immediately.
    (It doesn't matter who deals with them as long as they are dealt with.)

    (b) the agent must not be mentioned (often to avoid being impolite, or to avoid mentioning who is responsible for the action).
    Perhaps the report should be studied in more detail.
    (more polite than saying 'you should study the report in more detail')

    These invoices should have been sent yesterday.
    (avoids mentioning who should have sent them.)


Although the passive allows us to omit the agent, sometimes we construct a passive sentence because we want to use a more formal style and not for any of the reason stated above. In such cases, we might want to mention the agent. This is mostly done by using the word by.


The machinery was serviced by a team of experienced technicians.


When the agent is not a person or thing that acts, but rather a means through which something is done, we use the word with.

The door was opened with a crowbar.


In relative clauses, the relative pronoun and 'BE' can be omitted.

Candidates who are selected for a second interview will be tested on their writing skills.

Candidates selected for a second interview will be tested on their writing skills.

The Agreement, which is signed by both parties, is not to be broken.

The Agreement, signed by both parties, is not to be broken.



Adverbs in passive sentences are usually inserted between the “BE” and the Past Participle.

They were heavily penalized.

More Language Activities


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Thanks…. By This Articule..  I helped much…...........tomorrow I have a test on This text

10:50 PM Aug 10 2010 |




Cool. You give me the best lesson for me.

02:38 AM Oct 16 2009 |



El Salvador

thanks for this lesson is great. but i would like to know how can i do a question in future perfect in passive voice. so i hope ur answer bye take care.

09:17 PM May 01 2009 |



quite helpful stuff!

Thanks !

07:13 PM Apr 16 2009 |




thank you !!

11:36 AM Apr 15 2009 |



very nice….

08:07 PM Apr 13 2009 |



very fascinating and glorifying

06:08 PM Apr 12 2009 |




07:22 PM Apr 07 2009 |




It's quite useful!! thanksLaughing

12:33 PM Mar 31 2009 |



cool Cool

07:59 AM Mar 27 2009 |

Samuel Desfortin


Active and passive voice lesson was one of my favourite topics when I was in Senior High School.

Thanx for the lesson here. I like it

09:18 PM Mar 22 2009 |



thank u i really like this lesson.and i get it.

09:09 PM Mar 22 2009 |


Syrian Arab Republic

nice ()


09:44 AM Mar 22 2009 |

hakan olgun


importand project for students so thanks

06:07 AM Mar 17 2009 |




RE: nevardo "why intransitive verbs are not used to form passive voice? and what does intransitve verbs mean? and which are intransitive verbs?"

passive voice is formed by shifting the object and making it the subject of the sentence.

as intransitive verbs do not take an object, there is no object to promote.

"They eat a lof of apples."
"eat" is a transitive verb here, because it requires an object; what do they eat? apples.
so we can use the object 'apples' and make it a subject: "A lot of apples are eaten."

but if you just say:
"They eat." – "eat" is an intransitive verb here because there is no object – we don't say what they eat exactly, we just mean that they eat in general.
as there is no object here , it is impossible to form passive voice to say what was eaten.


01:17 PM Mar 01 2009 |




Hello teacher:

thanks a lot for that topic. May you explain to me why intransitive verbs are not used to form passive voice? and what does intransitve verbs mean? and which are intransitive verbs?

11:23 AM Feb 28 2009 |



Thank very much. I like your lessons.
You´re a good teacher!

01:11 AM Feb 27 2009 |



Saudi Arabia

thank you

very useful

03:11 PM Feb 25 2009 |





02:53 AM Feb 24 2009 |



Viet Nam

thanks :D

02:46 PM Feb 19 2009 |

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