10/02/2016 Kamerin

Passive Voice 2

The Passive Voice
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How do we use the passive voice?

In our previous post on the passive, I explained why we use the passive voice. Now, let me show you some rules and how we create the grammatical structure of the passive.

The subject of a passive sentence would be the object of an active sentence, and vice versa.

PASSIVE: The cat was chased by the dog.        (SUBJECT  VERB  OBJECT)

ACTIVE: The dog chased the cat.        (SUBJECT  VERB  OBJECT)

So we can see that in the passive:

Receiver = Subject

The subject receives the action.

Doer (if mentioned) = Object  

The object performs or does the action.

  • Notice that when the doer is mentioned in the sentence it is introduced after the subject and verb with ‘by’.
  • Sometimes, there is no  “doer” of an action, but there is a source of the subject. When the source is mentioned it therefore becomes the object in the sentence.  In this case you would introduce the object with words like ‘from’ or ‘with’.  For example: Chocolate is made from cocoa beans.  Milkshakes are made with milk and ice cream.


All passive sentences must include a form of the verb to be followed by the past participle of the verb.

Here is table with the structures for the passive in the most commonly used verb tenses:

Present Simple S + am/is/are + Past Participle Love is spelt  l-o-v-e.
Present Continuous S + am/is/are + being +Past Participle My computer is being repaired.
Present Perfect S + has/have been + Past Participle I’ve been accepted to Harvard!
Past Simple S + was/were + Past Participle Your letter was received on Friday.
Past Continuous S + was/were being + Past Participle Our clothes were being washed.
Past Perfect S + had been + Past Participle They had been told not to come today.
Future Simple S + will be + Past Participle Exams will be taken on Monday.
Future Perfect S + will + have been + Past Participle Paychecks will have been sent by Thursday.
Infinitive S + to be + Past Participle Phones are to be turned off during the flight.

Try this quick quiz to check your understanding:

Write these sentences in the passive voice.

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About the Author

Kamerin American, honorary South African ;) Passionate about people, cultures and English.

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