ENGLISH GRAMMAR The Passive Voice

THE PASSIVE VOICE
INTRODUCTION
The passive of an active tense is formed by putting the verb to be into the same tense as the active verb
and adding the past participle of the active verb. The subject of the active verb becomes the ‘agent’ of the
passive verb. The agent is very often not mentioned. When it is mentioned it is preceded by by and placed
at the end of the clause.
Active: My grandfather planted this tree.
Passive: This tree was planted by my grandfather.
PASSIVE VERB TENSES
Present Simple
Past Simple
Future Simple
Present Continuous
Past Continuous
Going to
Present Perfect
Past Perfect
Infinitive
Modals
1

ACTIVE VOICE
He delivers the letters.
He delivered the letters.
He will deliver the letters.
He is delivering the letters.
He was delivering the letters.
He is going to deliver the letters.
He has delivered the letters.
He had delivered the letters.
He has to deliver the letters.
He must deliver the letters.
SIMPLE

PRESENT

PAST

CONTINUOUS

PERFECT

+ S + am/is/are + Ptp

S + am/is/are + being + Ptp

S + have/has + been + Ptp

- S + am/is/are + not + Ptp

S + am/is/are + not +being + Ptp

S + have/has + not + been + Ptp

? Am/Is/Are + S + Ptp ?

Am/Is/Are) + S + being + Ptp ?

Have/Has) + S + been + Ptp ?

+ S + was/were + Ptp

S + was/were + being + Ptp

S + had + been + Ptp

- S + was/were + not + Ptp

S + was/were + not + being + Ptp

S + had + not + been + Ptp

? Was/Were + S +PtpV ?

Was/Were + S + being + Ptp?

Had + S + been + Ptp

+ S + will + be + Ptp
FUTURE

PASSIVE VOICE
The letters are delivered.
The letters were delivered.
The letters will be delivered.
The letters are being delivered.
The letters were being delivered.
The letters are going to be delivered.
The letters have been delivered.
The letters had been delivered.
The letters have to be delivered.
The letters must be delivered.

- S + will + not + be + Ptp
? Will + S + be + Ptp ?
+ S + V to be (am/is/are) + going to +
be + Ptp

GOING TO - S + V to be (am/is/are) + not + going
?

to + be + Ptp
V to be (am/is/are) + S + going to +
be + Ptp ?

if the subject of the active voice sentence is something like somebody. 2 AGENT To say who did the action that we are talking about. 4. The tense remains unchanged. ie. The new library will be opened by the Queen. The murderer was arrested last night. Our house was designed by a famous architect. when the agent (=the person who does the action) is unknown. if it is easy to understand who did something without it being mentioned. – less polite) 3.  we use will for Future Simple questions. USE The Passive is used: 1.  we change the main verb of the active voice sentence into the passive voice. (What we are interested in is the fact that he has been taken to hospital and not who has taken him. Agatha Christie wrote this book. people. This book was written by Agatha Christie. Past Continuous and Going To questions. (more polite) (You haven’t cleaned the car. reports. unimportant or obvious from the context.Short answers To make short answers:  we use the verb to be (am/is/are/was/were) for Present Simple. headlines. etc. . (Obviously by the police) 2. Our car was stolen last night. events. instructions. He has been taken to hospital. Present Continuous. as in processes. We usually only refer to the agent when it gives us some important information which otherwise would be missing from the sentence. ACTIVE TO PASSIVE To change a sentence from the active voice to the passive voice:  the object of the active voice sentence becomes the subject of the passive voice sentence. they. when the action is more important than the agent. to make more polite or formal statements. (We don’t know who stole it) 2. to refer to the agent.  the subject of the active voice sentence becomes the agent of the passive sentence.) This church was built in 1815. (It is not necessary to mention that he has been arrested by the police because it is self-evident. if we are not interested in who has done what we are talking about or it is not important to mention it. We don’t mention the agent: 1. (Unimportant agent) He has been arrested. noun (by the teacher) or pronoun (by him) at the end of the sentence.) 4. and advertisements.  we use the verb have (have/has/had) for Present Perfect and Past Perfect questions. you.) 3. new items. Jane was shot. The car hasn’t been cleaned. (We don’t know who shot her. if we don’t know who has done what we are talking about. → The window was broken. Past Simple. Someone broke the window. 30 people were killed in the earthquake. to put emphasis on the agent. we use the preposition by and the name (by Peter) . It is placed after the past participle and it is preceded by the preposition by.

By making the direct (inanimate) object the subject of the passive voice. write. Some of the verbs that take two objects are: give. for example. (eggs. give somebody something. bring. 1995 . A Practical English Grammar. Jervis. Grammar Time 5. The door was opened with a key.V. This book was written by Agatha Christie. 3 This book was given to me by Rick. I was given this book by Rick. pay. Thomson and A. (Mr Blak = agent)  with to refer to the instrument. Evans. send. offer.S. Leslie SUBJECT took this photograph ACTIVE VERB OBJECT This photograph SUBJECT was taken PASSIVE VERB yesterday. If the indirect object of the active voice sentence is a personal pronoun it has to be changed into a subject pronoun to be the subject of the passive voice sentence. Longman. tell. TIME COMPLEMENT by Leslie AGENT yesterday. we use:  by with the agent to refer to by whom the action is being done. Carling and S. The door was opened by Mr Black. it needs the preposition to. which is also the way that we usually prefer. Longman. b. object or material that was used for something to be done. cheese and peppers. Martinet. J. 1986 .A. we can convert the active sentence into a passive one in two ways: a. When the indirect object is alone after the verb in the passive voice sentence. Grammar Time 6. SUBJECT I You He She It ←→ ←→ ←→ ←→ ←→ OBJECT me you him her it SUBJECT We You They ←→ ←→ ←→ OBJECT us you them BIBLIOGRAPHY . Oxford University Press. 2003 . Grammar Time 4. TIME COMPLEMENT BY OR WITH? In the passive voice. Longman.M.ENGLISH GRAMMAR The Passive Voice Agatha Christie wrote this book. Jervis. (a key = the object that was used) The omelette was made with eggs.V. by making the indirect (animate) object the subject of the passive voice sentence. cheese and peppers = the material that was used) DOUBLE OBJECT VERBS When we have verbs that take two objects like.M. etc. 2003 . Rick gave me (indirect object) this book (direct object). Longman. 2003 . Carling. show. Round-Up (English Grammar Practice).

4. Fiat. ________________________________ (the phone/answer) by a young girl? d. Change the following sentences into passive sentences using the words in brackets. FIAT Fiat 0 was started (started/was started) by a group of Italian businessmen in 1899. 4 2. b. This car 5____________________ (called/was called) the Topolino – the Italian name for Mickey Mouse. and in 1963 Fiat 6 _____________________ (exported/was exported) more than 300. c. g. Use the Present Simple. There was a track on the roof where the cars 4____________________ (tested/were tested) by technicians. Complete the sentences with the correct passive form of the verbs in brackets. The car ________________________ (not damaged) in the accident. In 1920. His travel expenses ________________________ (not pay) by his company. (The electric light bulb/invent/by Thomas Edison) _________________________________________________________________________________ c. My salary _____________________ (pay) every month. h. 1 _________________ (produced/was produced) 132 cars. In 1936. b. English ____________________ (speak) in many countries. How _______________________ (your name/spell)? f. (The office/paint/last week) _________________________________________________________________________________ d. These cars _________________________ (not make) in Japan. Where ______________________________ (this pot/make)? i. When ______________________________ (tennis/invent)? f. How often ______________________________ (the Olympic Games(hold)? e. a. Use the Past Simple. ______________________________ (the building/use) any more? d. a. e. In 1903. When _______________________________ (this bridge/build)? 3. Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb. Someone painted the office last week. Complete the sentences with the correct passive form of the verbs in brackets. The company grew. (The accident/see/by several people) _________________________________________________________________________________ e. Fiat is based in Turin. My car ______________________ (repair) last week. Fiat launched the Fiat 500. a. We sell tickets for all shows at the Box Office. near Turin. (Tickets for all shows/sell/at the Box Office) _________________________________________________________________________________ b. The post ______________________ (deliver) at about 7 o’clock every morning. Choose the correct form of the verbs in brackets. Fiat 3_________________ (started/was started) making cars at a new factory at Lingotto. g. c. Several people saw the accident. Today. The original building _________________________ (pull) down in 1965. The film ________________________ (make) ten years ago. Where do they make these video recorders? (Where/these video recorders/make) _________________________________________________________________________________ .EXERCISES 1. This song ________________________ (not write) by John Lennon. i.000 vehicles. Some of these cars 2 _____________________ (exported/were exported) by the company to the United States and Britain. The name of the people who committed the crime _____________________ (not know). and its cars 7_________________ (sold/are sold) all over the world. h.

Brian Brody directed The Ultimate Space Adventure. a. 5 _________________________________________________________________________________ e. A thief stole my purse. Pierre Matie will design her costume. c.ENGLISH GRAMMAR The Passive Voice 5. Paper is made from wood. Is paper made from wood ? ___________________________________________? ___________________________________________? ___________________________________________? ___________________________________________? ___________________________________________? ___________________________________________? ___________________________________________? . Champagne is made in France. _________________________________________________________________________________ h. _________________________________________________________________________________ e. Rewrite these sentences in the passive voice. Someone built this house 200 years ago. Someone found my wallet. _________________________________________________________________________________ b. g. They will deliver my computer on Monday. The police will arrest the robbers. _________________________________________________________________________________ 6. They will build a new bridge next year. _________________________________________________________________________________ f. Someone stole Jim’s bike lat night. One of the students broke the window. f. _________________________________________________________________________________ d. e. People throw away tones of rubbish every day. _________________________________________________________________________________ c. _________________________________________________________________________________ c. d. This picture was painted by Peter. _________________________________________________________________________________ g. The letters will be sent next week. a. British astronomers discovered a new planet. _________________________________________________________________________________ b. _________________________________________________________________________________ 7. a. Form the question. They make coffee in Brazil. Mary invited Paul to her birthday party. The animals are fed three times a day. They produce cars in this factory. b. _________________________________________________________________________________ d. h. They serve breakfast at eight o’clock every day. This article was written by Stanley. _________________________________________________________________________________ h. _________________________________________________________________________________ f. The thieves will be arrested by the police. The telephone was invented by Mr Bell. Rewrite these sentences in the passive voice. _________________________________________________________________________________ g.

The first hot dog / eat / in the 1860s. CDs are made of plastic. One man _____________________ (catch) immediately. The toothbrush / invent / in the 15th century. _________________________________________________________________________________ h. The first bicycle / ride in 1791. c. This programme _______________________ (watch) by millions of people. e. _________________________________________________________________________________ f. j. Books _____________________ (write) by authors. a. _________________________________________________________________________________ 6 9. The party was organised by Paul. _________________________________________________________________________________ c. The biology class _________________________ (teach) by Mr Green. h. 10. The first computer mouse / use / 1964. Hundreds of people _______________________ (kill) in accidents every year. The two men ________________________ (charge) with burglary. The police _____________________ (call) and they arrived very quickly. ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ . g. Both men _____________________ (take) to the police station where they _________________________ (question) separately by a police officer. English _____________________ (speak) all over the world. The first CDs / sell / in the 1980s. _________________________________________________________________________________ e. They will use the children’s descriptions to catch the thief. Somebody has stolen a bus from outside the school. Two men _________________________ (see) breaking into a house in my street last night. Put the verbs in brackets into Past Simple Passive. Complete with the passive. Some children saw the thief. Rewrite the following passage in the Passive. Read and complete. b.i. The first electric guitar / play / in 1923. The other escaped. a. Use Present Simple. _________________________________________________________________________________ b. _________________________________________________________________________________ g. The first eyeglasses / wear / in the 1200s. ___________________________________________? ___________________________________________? 8. Lunch _____________________ (serve) at twelve o’clock. The first public basketball game / play / in 1892. Paper __________________________ (make) from wood. The police are searching for the bus now. _________________________________________________________________________________ d. 11. but he ______________________ (find) very soon. f. d. London __________________________ (visit) by thousands of tourists every year. Use Past Simple.

Her mother bought Mary some sweets. ___________________________________________________ . The owner had just locked up the shop when a robber with a gun threatened him. Experts are looking at them now. Some people saw a UFO in the sky above London last night. ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ 16. ______________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________ b. The students will also have to do all the writing themselves. My uncle painted this picture. Someone broke into a local jewellery shop yesterday. ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ 13. The police have organized a search for the robber. The teachers will choose the best project about the environment. Bob has sold Ted a second-hand car. The school will give the winner a set of encyclopaedias. People have given photographs of the UFO to the police. he will tell them the truth. ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ 14. Turn from Active to Passive in two ways. The army sent a helicopter to look at it more closer. Rewrite the following passage in the Passive. Rewrite the following passage in the Passive. Someone has offered him a lot of money for it. Rewrite the following passage in the Passive. He gave me a present. Doctors are treating the owner of the shop for shock. The robber told him to unlock the shop and give him all the diamonds in the safe. He will deliver the painting tomorrow. a. The students must include pictures and drawings in their projects. When they give him the money. Rewrite the following passage in the Passive. _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________ d. They reported it to the police. He painted it one night while he was sleepwalking! ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ 7 ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ 15. They hope they will find him in a few days. The waiter will bring us the bill.ENGLISH GRAMMAR The Passive Voice 12. The UFO shot the helicopter down and killed both men in it. _______________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________ c. Then the robber tied him up. Our school is organizing a contest.

Has anybody put the cases upstairs? _________________________________________________________________________________ 6. Someone should take this rubbish away. 1. Larry is going to send a letter to Tom. _________________________________________________________________________________ . They showed the tourists the sights of Athens. The mail-order company sent Mrs Green a parcel. _________________________________________________________________________________ m. _________________________________________________________________________________ i. John gave Elizabeth that beautiful ring. Shakespeare wrote King Lear. We teach our students English and French. They paid the artist £1. _________________________________________________________________________________ j. The secretary has given Mrs Jones some letters. Turn from Active to Passive. He must give the message to the right person. _________________________________________________________________________________ 8. Her students have sent her flowers. Someone’s going to send her some flowers. _________________________________________________________________________________ l. _________________________________________________________________________________ g. _________________________________________________________________________________ 18. They sell oysters in the shop next door. Someone is helping her with the housework. _________________________________________________________________________________ h.000 for his painting. _________________________________________________________________________________ f. _________________________________________________________________________________ d. They have to answer the questions on this sheet. They haven’t delivered the food yet. _________________________________________________________________________________ c. __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________ 8 17._________________________________________________________________________________ e. They’ll ask you a lot of questions. _________________________________________________________________________________ k. My friend sent me an invitation. Someone bought flowers for the bride. _________________________________________________________________________________ 3. _________________________________________________________________________________ 7. _________________________________________________________________________________ 2. The traffic warden had already given him a ticket for illegal parking. _________________________________________________________________________________ e. _________________________________________________________________________________ 5. They pay her an excellent salary. _________________________________________________________________________________ b. _________________________________________________________________________________ 4. Rewrite these sentences in the passive voice. a.

_________________________________________________________________________________ 21. _________________________________________________________________________________ 25. _________________________________________________________________________________ 26. _________________________________________________________________________________ 10. Somebody had cleaned my shoes and brushed my suit. _________________________________________________________________________________ 28. They cancelled all the flights because of fog. _________________________________________________________________________________ 12. _________________________________________________________________________________ 14. _________________________________________________________________________________ 16. The estate agent showed the house to the young people. People don’t use this road very often. The bill includes service. They are going to hold next year’s congress in San Francisco. You should open the wine about three hours before you use it. _________________________________________________________________________________ 15. John gave Elizabeth that beautiful ring. _________________________________________________________________________________ 24. They are building a new ring-road round the city. They had to postpone the meeting because of illness. We will pay the gardener a lot of money. They didn’t pay me much for that job. _________________________________________________________________________________ 29. _________________________________________________________________________________ 31. _________________________________________________________________________________ 17. _________________________________________________________________________________ 32. _________________________________________________________________________________ 30. _________________________________________________________________________________ 23. Somebody accused me of stealing the money. _________________________________________________________________________________ . _________________________________________________________________________________ 18. I didn’t realize that someone was recording our conversation. They told us a secret. People should send their complaints to the head office.ENGLISH GRAMMAR The Passive Voice 9 9. Brian told me that somebody had attacked and robbed him in the street. _________________________________________________________________________________ 27. _________________________________________________________________________________ 20. Would they lend me their car? _________________________________________________________________________________ 13. They have offered Sarah a very good job. Have they offered him a better job? _________________________________________________________________________________ 11. They have changed the date of the meeting. In some districts farmers use pigs to find truffles. We use this room only on special occasions. _________________________________________________________________________________ 22. Someone is going to repair the roof next week. _________________________________________________________________________________ 19.

_________________________________________________________________________________ 36. Someone gave them free tickets for the concert. Doctor Simms is examining her. _________________________________________________________________________________ . _________________________________________________________________________________ 51. _________________________________________________________________________________ 41. We will put all these things into boxes. _________________________________________________________________________________ 39. _________________________________________________________________________________ 37. _________________________________________________________________________________ 35. Archaeologists have discovered an ancient temple. _________________________________________________________________________________ 52. _________________________________________________________________________________ 54. _________________________________________________________________________________ 42. Professor Smith should write the book. _________________________________________________________________________________ 44. The villagers gave the travellers food and water. They are going to finish the new road in a few days. _________________________________________________________________________________ 49. She is telling the children a story. They should decorate the room with flowers. The children send me messages every day. Mr Elliot will pay the workers.10 33. _________________________________________________________________________________ 50. You must not cross this line. A very talented young girl wrote the story. They gave Bob a CD player for his birthday. _________________________________________________________________________________ 46. They’ve offered Sally a job. _________________________________________________________________________________ 53. _________________________________________________________________________________ 45. They had picked the oranges before the storm. _________________________________________________________________________________ 40. You must stop him now. _________________________________________________________________________________ 43. The youngest student in the class has written the best composition. _________________________________________________________________________________ 48. _________________________________________________________________________________ 38. Millions of people use the Internet every day. The firefighters rescued the teenagers from the burning building. _________________________________________________________________________________ 57. The prime minister will give a medal to the winners. Poisonous chemicals have polluted the river. _________________________________________________________________________________ 55. They cancelled the match because of the rain. Two men were following Tom. _________________________________________________________________________________ 34. _________________________________________________________________________________ 56. They can’t find Joanna. _________________________________________________________________________________ 47.