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 ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________________________________ 40. _________________________________________________________________________________ 53. A very talented young girl wrote the story. They gave Bob a CD player for his birthday. We will put all these things into boxes. _________________________________________________________________________________ 48. _________________________________________________________________________________ 37. The prime minister will give a medal to the winners. Someone gave them free tickets for the concert. _________________________________________________________________________________ 41. Archaeologists have discovered an ancient temple. Doctor Simms is examining her. The firefighters rescued the teenagers from the burning building. They are going to finish the new road in a few days. Two men were following Tom. _________________________________________________________________________________ 56. _________________________________________________________________________________ 49. Mr Elliot will pay the workers. _________________________________________________________________________________ 44. _________________________________________________________________________________ 55. _________________________________________________________________________________ 51. _________________________________________________________________________________ 43. _________________________________________________________________________________ 38. _________________________________________________________________________________ 45. The villagers gave the travellers food and water. They had picked the oranges before the storm. _________________________________________________________________________________ 54. They cancelled the match because of the rain. _________________________________________________________________________________ 34. _________________________________________________________________________________ 50. _________________________________________________________________________________ 52.10 33. _________________________________________________________________________________ 36. They should decorate the room with flowers. The children send me messages every day. _________________________________________________________________________________ 39. _________________________________________________________________________________ 42. _________________________________________________________________________________ 46. You must stop him now. You must not cross this line. _________________________________________________________________________________ 35. They can’t find Joanna. _________________________________________________________________________________ 57. The youngest student in the class has written the best composition. _________________________________________________________________________________ 47. Poisonous chemicals have polluted the river. She is telling the children a story. They’ve offered Sally a job. Millions of people use the Internet every day. _________________________________________________________________________________ . Professor Smith should write the book.

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