The passive voice is simply a form where we emphasise the object of a sentence and what is done to the object, rather than who or what is doing it.
Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.
To make a passive sentence we need:
The verb “To Be” & The past participle of the verb.
It is formed like this:
To be + Past Participle.
“Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.”
Don’t forget that the only part of the passive construct that conjugates is the verb “To Be.”
The past participle always remains the same.
Tense is expressed by the form of the verb to be, for example:
It will be finished(future with will)
It was finished(past simple)
It has been finished(present perfect)
|It was done.||Past simple|
|It has been done.||Present perfect|
|It had been done.||Past perfect|
|It is being done.||Present continuous|
|It is done.||Present simple|
|It will be done.||Future (will)|
|It is going to be done.||Future (going to)|
|It will be being done||Future continuous|
|It will have been done.||Future perfect|
|It should be being done.||After a modal verb|
|It should have been done.||In the past after a modal verb|
|It would be done.||In conditional|
|I don’t like it being done.||When we need a gerund|
|He was happy to be invited||When we need an infinitive|
The passive voice is:
It is often used:
It is commonly used when:
The liquid was boiled and the resulting vapours were collected and analysed.News Media:
The Prime minister is expected to make an announcement today.Press / Media
It is requested that you make an appointment at the earliest opportunity.Formal Communication.
My bicycle was stolen!
The man was arrested.Irrelevant / unknown agent:
In these examples, if we want to say who did the action we would use “by”:
The passive voice is used much more in English than in other languages
The primary reason for this is that it is a common impersonal form.
In English might say:
“Smoking is prohibited.”
There are two further forms that are commonly used in the passive voice. Instead of saying
“People believe that he escaped at night.”
We could say either;
“It is believed that he escaped at night.” or
“He is believed to have escaped at night.”
Which are both forms that we will look at in detail in the next presentation. They often don’t translate very well into other languages.
Read the grammar topic about the passive voice. When you are satisfied that you understand, try the quizzes.
Each quiz contains the slides from the video presentation for reference.