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Passive Voice: Important Rules and Useful Examples

Passive Voice: Important Rules and Useful Examples

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Understanding how to construct sentences in the passive voice is an essential skill that can enhance the variety and sophistication of your communication. Throughout this lesson, we will delve into the key rules that govern the formation of passive constructions and explore their appropriate usage in various contexts.

Understanding Passive Voice

Active vs Passive Voice: Important Rules and Useful Examples

Definition of Passive Voice

Passive voice occurs when the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb. The focus is not on who is performing the action, but rather on the action itself or the recipient of that action. Sentences in passive voice typically follow this structure: the object + be + past participle + by + the subject. For example, “The cake was eaten by us,” puts emphasis on the cake and the action of it being eaten.

Active vs. Passive Voice

Active Voice

The active voice illustrates a sentence where the subject performs the action that stated by the verb.

Form: SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT.

  • I do my home work.
  • My mom cooks the dinner.
  • Our teacher gives us a lot of homework.
  • She receives a letter from her father.

Passive Voice

In contrast, passive voice is describe a sentence in which the subject receives an action.

Form: SUBJECT + VERB + “TO BE” + PAST PARTICIPLE.

  • My homework is done (by me).
  • The dinner is cooked (by my mom).
  • We are given a lot of homework (by our teacher).
  • A letter from her father is received (by her).

Note: “By+…” can be taken out in passive voice.

When to Use Passive Voice?

 1. In formal texts

Examples:

  • Active: They invite him to the party.
  • Passive: He is invited to the party. (sounds more formal)

2. To show interest in the person or object that receive an action rather than the person or object that performs the action.

Examples:

  • The party was held in a luxury hotel. (we’re interest in the party rather than who held it.)
  • All tickets were sold out! (we’re interest in the ticket rather than who sold it.)

3. When we don’t know (or do not want to express) who performed the action.

Examples:

  • My purse was stolen!
  • A whole pot of jam was eaten!

Passive Voice For All Tenses

Passive voice for all tenses in English.

Note:

  • V1: Base Form of Verb
  • V2: Past Simple
  • V3: Past Participle

Present Simple Tense

Learn passive voice for present simple tense in English.

Form:

  • Active: S + V1 + O.
  • Passive: S + is/am/are +V3.

Example:

  • Active: He receives a letter.
  • Passive: A letter is received by him.

Present Continuous Tense

Form:

  • Active: S + am/are/is +V-ing + O.
  • Passive: S + am/are/is +being + V3.

Example:

  • Active: She is cooking the dinner.
  • Passive: The dinner is being cooked by her.

Past Simple Tense

Form:

  • Active: S + V2+O.
  • Passive: S+was/were+V3.

Example:

  • Active: I did my homework last night.
  • Passive: Homework was done by me last night.

Past Continuous Tense

Form:

  • Active: S + was/were + V-ing + O.
  • Passive: S+was/were + being +V3.

Example:

  • Active: He was playing the volleyball yesterday afternoon.
  • Passive: The volleyball was being played by him yesterday afternoon.

Present Perfect Tense

Form:

  • Active: S + have/has + V3 + O.
  • Passive: S+have/has been +V3.

Example:

  • Active: I have studied English for 10 years.
  • Passive: English has been studied for 10 year.

Past Perfect Tense

Form:

  • Active: S + had + V3 + O.
  • Passive: S + had been +V3.

Example:

  • Active: I had bought a new car.
  • Passive: A new car had been bought by me.

Future Simple Tense

Form:

  • Active: S + will + V1 + O.
  • Passive: S + will be +V3.

Example:

  • Active: I will make a cake on my Mom’s birthday.
  • Passive: A cake will be made on my Mom’s birthday.

Future Tense with Going to

Form:

  • Active: S + am/are/is going to + V1 + O.
  • Passive: S + am/are/is going to be +V3.

Example:

  • Active: She is going to do housework.
  • Passive: Housework is going to be done by her.

Modals Verb

Form:

  • Active: S + can/could/may/might… + V1 + O.
  • Passive: S + can/could/may/might…be +V3.

Example:

  • Active: She could lift this box.
  • Passive: This box could be lifted by her.

Modal Perfect

Form:

  • Active: S + should/could/may/might…have + V3+ O.
  • Passive: S + should/could/may/might…have been + V3.

Example:

  • Active: You should have finished the task on time.
  • Passive: The task should have been finished on time.

Interactive Exercises

Exercise 1: Change from Active to Passive Voice

Rewrite the following active sentences in the passive voice. Be sure to keep the same tense.

  1. The team is preparing the report.
  2. The chef cooked a delicious meal.
  3. The students will present the project next week.
  4. The company has shipped your order.
  5. The mechanic fixed the car.
  6. The teacher is grading the exams.
  7. The artist painted a beautiful portrait.
  8. The gardener has planted new flowers.
  9. The committee will announce the results tomorrow.
  10. The kids are making a mess in the living room.

Answers:

  1. The report is being prepared by the team.
  2. A delicious meal was cooked by the chef.
  3. The project will be presented by the students next week.
  4. Your order has been shipped by the company.
  5. The car was fixed by the mechanic.
  6. The exams are being graded by the teacher.
  7. A beautiful portrait was painted by the artist.
  8. New flowers have been planted by the gardener.
  9. The results will be announced by the committee tomorrow.
  10. A mess is being made in the living room by the kids.

Exercise 2: Identify the Correct Passive Voice Sentence

Choose the correct passive voice sentence from the options provided.

  1. The novel (was written/was wrote) by the author last year.
  2. The windows (are cleaned/were cleaned) every Saturday.
  3. The song (has been sung/was been sung) by the choir beautifully.
  4. The homework (must be finished/must finished) before the deadline.
  5. The instructions (will be given/are given) by the instructor shortly.
  6. The trophy (is being awarded/was being awarded) to the winner as we speak.
  7. The agreement (has been signed/had been signed) by both parties.
  8. The message (was being delivered/is being delivered) when the system crashed.
  9. The new policy (is being implemented/was being implemented) starting next month.
  10. The cake (was being baked/is being baked) when the power went out.

Answers:

  1. was written 
  2. are cleaned 
  3. has been sung
  4. must be finished 
  5. will be given 
  6. is being awarded 
  7. has been signed 
  8. was being delivered 
  9. is being implemented 
  10. was being baked 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I convert a sentence from active to passive voice?

To convert from active to passive, you first identify the object of the active sentence. Make this object the subject of the passive sentence. Then, add the appropriate form of the verb “to be” followed by the past participle of the main verb. If necessary, you may include “by” followed by the original subject to indicate who performed the action.

Can you provide some examples of passive voice in different tenses?

Sure, here are some examples:

  • Present simple: “The mail is delivered daily.”
  • Past simple: “The window was broken by the storm.”
  • Future simple: “The project will be completed by next week.”
  • Present perfect: “The agreement has been signed.”

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using passive voice?

Common mistakes include overusing passive voice, which can make writing seem dull or evasive. Make sure the subject of your sentence is clear, as sentences with obscured subjects can be confusing. Also, watch out for the correct form of ‘to be’ to match the tense of your sentence.

In what situations is using passive voice considered inappropriate?

Passive voice is typically avoided in writing that requires action and clarity, such as in most forms of academic writing, journalism, and calls to action. It’s also less appropriate when it’s important to know who performed the action.

How does passive voice affect the clarity of writing?

While passive voice can reduce the clarity of writing by shifting the focus away from the subject performing the action, it can also be used intentionally to emphasize the action itself or when the performer is unknown or irrelevant.

What tools can help me check if I’ve used passive voice correctly?

Grammar checking tools like Grammarly can help identify passive constructions. Additionally, word processing software often has built-in grammar checks that can highlight passive voice, allowing you to reconsider its usage.

Mustapha mohammed lawan

Tuesday 24th of October 2023

It's educating and so Interesting!

vineet

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

i am not going to school is it passive?

Nithya

Friday 8th of July 2022

So confused with this.. difficult to get!

Jovanni

Friday 16th of July 2021

I AM SOOO CONFUSED

vineet

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

hehheheheeheh

Kiran Kumar

Monday 15th of March 2021

Ki