Use of Passive
Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.
Example: My bike was stolen.
In the example above, the focus is on the fact that my bike was stolen. I do not know, however, who did it.
Sometimes a statement in passive is more polite than active voice, as the following example shows:
Example: A mistake was made.
In this case, I focus on the fact that a mistake was made, but I do not blame anyone (e.g. You have made a mistake.).
Form of Passive
Subject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (3rd column of irregular verbs)
Example: A letter was written.
When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:
- the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
- the finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle)
- the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)
Examples of Passive
|Simple Present||Active:||Rita||writes||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||is written||by Rita.|
|Simple Past||Active:||Rita||wrote||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||was written||by Rita.|
|Present Perfect||Active:||Rita||has written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||has been written||by Rita.|
|Future I||Active:||Rita||will write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||will be written||by Rita.|
|Hilfsverben||Active:||Rita||can write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||can be written||by Rita.|
Examples of Passive Level: upper intermediate
|Present Progressive||Active:||Rita||is writing||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||is being written||by Rita.|
|Past Progressive||Active:||Rita||was writing||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||was being written||by Rita.|
|Past Perfect||Active:||Rita||had written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||had been written||by Rita.|
|Future II||Active:||Rita||will have written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||will have been written||by Rita.|
|Conditional I||Active:||Rita||would write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||would be written||by Rita.|
|Conditional II||Active:||Rita||would have written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||would have been written||by Rita.|