Grammar: Introduction to The Passive Voice

A: The active voice is when the subject performs the action or experiences the state. The passive voice is when the action happens to the subject. Only transitive verbs (verbs which take an object) can be used in the passive. Some verbs e.g. to be born are normally only used in the passive. The passive is formed by the appropriate tense or aspect of the verb ‘to be’ + past participle. 

For example:
He designs cars. Active Voice
Cars are designed (by him). Passive Voice

NeoTip
Always remember that Intransitive Verbs are never used in the passive voice.
The girl has been died in the hospital“. is  a wrong sentence because ‘Die’  is an Intransitive Verb.
The correct sentence is, ‘The girl has died in the hospital’.
Thus option B is correct in the above example. 

Other examples of Intransitive Verbs are as under:

This has happened a million times.
This has been happened a million times.
The book belonged to me.
The book is belonged to me.
He became a doctor. 
He was become a doctor. 

Most important passive verb forms are as under.

Past : kill – was,were killed
was/were killing – was,were being killed
had killed – had been killed
had been killing – had been being killed
Present: kills/Kill – is,are,am killed
is/are/am killing – is,are,am being killed
has/have killed – has, have been killed
has, have been killing – has, have been being killed
Future: will killed – will be killed
will be killing – will be being killed
will have killed – will have been killed
will have been killing – will have been being killed

B: Passive is used when object rather than the subject becomes important so agent is not important. Look at some of the common examples with and without Agent.

1. The gases are heated over a burner.
2. He was arrested.
3. The world is believed to be round.
4. My bicycle has been moved.
5. He arrived and was greeted by the mayor.
6. The window was broken by the thief.
7. The book has been written by me.

C: Passive focuses on the action rather than the actor; it is
not always correct to use passive. We normally emphasise the subject to
simplify our conversation. 


The room
was entered by Dr. Wheeler, at which point words of advice regarding
active verbs were spoken by him. It was decided by the rebellious class
that the final paper of the semester would be written entirely in
passive voice. Remarks were made by a distraught Wheeler; protests were
made by the students. A seat was gotten out of by one student. His desk
was stood upon by him, and a vow was made by him that he would never
write another active sentence. He was challenged to a duel. Blood was
shed. Butts were kicked. Lives were lost. Shrieks could be heard. The
halls of Henderson were run down by people who were concerned. When the
room was entered by them, carnage was seen by them. When Wheeler was
found standing over the bodies, only these words were spoken by him:
“Mistakes were made.”

Exercises

1. Which of the followings are passives?

1. She was very excited.
2. She was asked to leave.
3. The child is being very good.
4. The child is being looked after by her mother.
5. You will be taken to the airport.
6. You will be very pleased with the service.
7. She has worked here for many years.
8. She has been a great colleague.
9. She has been promoted many times.
10. She was born in London.

2. Apply the active or passive forms.

A few weeks ago, while I (1)_____________ ( shop) at the supermarket near my house ,
I (2) _____________ (rob). I was at the checkout counter, paying my groceries. When
I (3) _____________(give) my change by the cashier, I (4) _____________ (put) it in my purse. As I (5) _____________ out of the store , I (6) _____________ (feel ) a pull at my purse . Suddenly , I (7)_____________ ( see) a man run past me. I ran back into the store and told the manager what happened. The manager called the police immediately. However I thought he will never (8) _____________ (catch). When the police arrived I told them “ My wallet (9) _____________ (steal ) Actually, the thief got on the train and disappeared. Unfortunately my wallet (10) ______ (find) yet.

3. Write the passive forms!

1. He was(tell) many times to stop talking in class.
2. He was (disappoint) by the movie.
3. He was (convince) by his brother to stay home.
4. The present was (give) to her by her co-worker.
5. The thief was (catch) by the police.
6. This book is being (read) by all the students.
7. “Leisure” was (write) by William Davies.
8. A new college is soon going to be (build) here.
9. Many mistakes were (make) by the students.
10. The meeting was (hold) in the hall.

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1 thought on “Grammar: Introduction to The Passive Voice”

  1. ANSWERS

    1. Which of the followings are passives?
    1. She was very excited. ACTIVE
    2. She was asked to leave. PASSIVE
    3. The child is being very good. ACTIVE
    4. The child is being looked after by her mother. PASSIVE
    5. You will be taken to the airport. PASSIVE
    6. You will be very pleased with the service. ACTIVE
    7. She has worked here for many years. ACTIVE
    8. She has been a great colleague. ACTIVE
    9. She has been promoted many times. PASSIVE
    10. She was born in London. ACTIVE

    2. Apply the active or passive forms.
    A few weeks ago, while I (1) WAS SHOPPING at the supermarket near my house ,
    I (2) WAS ROBBED. I was at the checkout counter, paying my groceries. When
    I (3) WAS GIVEN my change by the cashier, I (4) PUT it in my purse. As I (5) WENT out of the store , I (6) FELT a pull at my purse . Suddenly , I (7) SAW a man run past me. I ran back into the store and told the manager what happened. The manager called the police immediately. However I thought he will never (8) BE CAUTGHT. When the police arrived I told them “ My wallet (9) HAS BEEN STOLEN. Actually, the thief got on the train and disappeared. Unfortunately my wallet (10) HAS NOT BEEN FOUND yet.

    3. Write the passive forms!
    1. He was (TOLD) many times to stop talking in class.
    2. He was (DISSAPOINTED) by the movie.
    3. He was (CONVINCED) by his brother to stay home.
    4. The present was (GIVEN) to her by her co-worker.
    5. The thief was (CAUGHT) by the police.
    6. This book is being (READ) by all the students.
    7. "Leisure" was (WRITTEN) by William Davies.
    8. A new college is soon going to be (BUILT) here.
    9. Many mistakes were (MADE) by the students.
    10. The meeting was (HELD) in the hall.

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