We use the passive voice in 3 situations:
- When the subject is not known
e.g. Someone killed the president
The president was killed (by someone)
- When the subject is obvious
e.g. The cleaner has cleaned the office
The office has been cleaned (by the cleaner)
- When the subject is not important
e.g. Alex Huckle eats all of the pies.
All of the pies are eaten by Alex Huckle
Form: how to build your own phrases
OBJECT + TO BE + PARTICIPLE + BY + SUBJECT + COMPLIMENTS
+ My car was fixed by the mechanic.
– The window was not smashed by the football.
? Was the lesson taught by the head teacher?
For extra practice click HERE and access our free PDF exercises.
The best way to form the passive is with this simple 5 step rule:
Active = The man swept the floor last Friday.
Passive = The floor was swept by the man last Friday.
*you can omit by the man because it is irrelevant
- Object – singular or plural
- Tense – conjugate the verb to be in this tense
- Verb – past participle
- Subject – can it be omitted? (unknown, obvious, irrelevant)
- Complements – extra information
An important part of the passive is knowing how to conjugate the verb to be.
Present simple = is/are
Present continuous = is/are being
Present perfect = has/have been
Past perfect = had been
Past simple = was/were
Going to = is/are going to be
Would = would be
Can = can be
Will = will be
Must = must be
Could = could be
Might = might be
Should = should be
Modal perfect = would/could/might/should have been
Avoiding the passive: we rarely use the passive with continuous tenses.
In advanced grammar we generally these prefer phrases to passives in the present continuous, present perfect continuous, past continuous, past perfect continuous, future continuous tenses.
Study the examples:
The painting is
being displayed for 3 month. The painting is on display for 3 months.
The house is
being built right now. The house is under construction at the moment.
The contract is
being thought about. The contract is under consideration.
Preparations for the course are
being made. Preparations for the course are under way.
is being done. The project is in progress.
By September I will have been
being trained for 6 months. By September I will have been in training for 6 months.
PRACTICE YOUR SPEAKING WITH PASSIVES HERE
- What could be done to control the amount we use technology?
- When was the last time you had your car fixed?
- Is it said in your country that social media is very addictive?
- Will language learning be made easier thanks to technology?
- Who was your company set up by?
- Have you ever had your computer repaired by a professional?
- How will education be influenced by technology in the future?
- Is it widely believed that we are becoming very addicted to technology?
- Has your life been improved by technology?
- What would you do if you go mugged in the street?
- Is it thought that technology will change the way we live in the future?
- Is technology generally considered to have a good impact on our lives?
- Could your job be replaced by something technological like a robot or a computer?
- Who have you been taught English by?
- Is it said that the internet is a reliable source of information?
You might also want to check out the other passive forms.