The passive voice

We use the passive voice to focus people's attention to the important part of our message or when we don't know who or what carried out an action.

Notes

In this lesson you will learn how to use and make the passive form of active sentences, have fun!

Learn FREE with videos and interactive exercises

Active and passive sentences

English sentences can be either active or passive, but... what does it mean?

A sentence is ACTIVE when the subject of the sentence carries out the action:

  • I eat an apple.

A sentence is PASSIVE when the subject doesn't carry out the action:

  • An apple is eaten by me.

How to make the passive

Let's see how to make the passive form of a sentence.

The passive is made with the appropriate form of the verb BE + the PAST PARTICIPLE of the mai verb + BY + the thing/person that carries the action:

Active sentenceVerb tenseBE + PAST PARTICIPLEPassive sentence
I EAT AN APPLEEAT = Present simpleIS EATENAN APPLE IS EATEN BY ME
WE WROTE A STORYWROTE = Past simpleWAS WRITTENA STORY WAS WRITTEN BY US
THEY HAVE SEEN THE MOVIEHAVE SEEN = Present perfectHAS BEEN SEENTHE MOVIE HAS BEEN SEEN BY THEM

 

The informal passive

We use the informal passive to report what is generally understood by people/society. We use IT + PASSIVE + THAT when we don't want to tell the source of that information.

  • The suitcase was found to be empty.
  • It is said that he earns more than €5,000 per month.

Passive voice worksheet

It's time to practise!

 

Download the worksheet below and test yourself!