The-passive-voice

Grammar: Passive Voice

The-passive-voice

The passive voice is used when the person who does the action (the subject) is not known, or when we want to emphasise a situation from a different perspective.

  • Penguins attacked my sister is active, because the subject (penguins) uses the verb (attacked) directly.
  • My sister was attacked is passive, because the subject (my sister) receives the verb (was attacked), and does not do the action.

Every passive sentence needs two things – the verb to be, and the main action in the past participle form. In our example we have *was” and “attacked“.

The verb to be in the example is in the past simple, which means that the sentence *my sister was attacked by wild penguins” is the past simple passive. The tense of the verb to be is the tense of our passive sentence.

 

Examples showing the Present and Past Simple and Continuous tenses in Affirmative, Negative and Question forms.

ACTIVE PASSIVE
Present Simple Affirmative I write a letter A letter is written (by me)
Present Simple Negative I don’t write a letter A letter wasn’t written (by me)
Present Simple Question Do you write a letter? Is a letter written by you?
Present Continuous Affirmative I am writing a letter A letter is being written
Present Continuous Negative I am not writing a letter A letter is not being written
Present Continuous Question Are you writing a letter? Is a letter being written?
Past Simple Affirmative I wrote a letter A letter was written
Past Simple Negative I didn’t write a letter A letter wasn’t written
Past Simple Question Did you write a letter? Was a letter written?
Past Continuous Affirmative I was writing a letter A letter was being written
Past Continuous Negative I wasn’t writing a letter A letter wasn’t being written
Past Continuous Question Were you writing a letter? Was a letter being written?

 

Some other examples to think about. Do you know these tenses? Can you make active sentences using these tenses and then make them passive?

ACTIVE PASSIVE
He has told that story many times That story has been told many times
He has been telling the same story for years That story has been being told by him for years
He had told them before they left. They had been told before they left.
He had been telling them for years. They had been being told for years.
She will do it. It will be done (by her)
They are going to do it It is going to be done (by them)
They will have done it It will have been done (by them)
They will have been doing it It will have been being done (by them)

 

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