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The Passive Voice

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When we want to focus on the object of a sentence instead of the subject, we use the passive voice.

Compare these two sentences:

John painted the picture. - The focus here is on John, he is the subject of the sentence.

The picture was painted by John. - The focus is on the picture, it is the object of the sentence.

Forming passives

Form the passive voice using an appropriate form of the verb 'to be' with the past participle form of the verb.

"Her purse was stolen last week."

"My car is being fixed."

"The books have to be returned to the library at the end of the week."

When do we use the passive voice?

There are a number of circumstances for using the passive.

1) Use it when you do not know who did an action.

"The door has been broken."

2) It is obvious or not important who did the action.

"This house was built 100 years ago." It's not important who built it (or unknown).

"I have been told to give my students more homework." - Obvious. In the active voice we would say, "The headmaster told me to give my students more homework."

Now complete these sentences using the passive voice:


  • 1) This coin is ___ of copper.

  • 2) Guernica was ___ by Picasso.

  • 3) The bottle has been ___.

  • 4) The pool has never been ___ in.

  • 5) The food was ___ cooked.

  • 6) University students are ___ by professors.

  • 7) The boxes will ___ been opened.

  • 8) The bell has been __.

  • 9) The children are ___ up early.

  • 10) A picture is ___ to be taken.