English Grammar in Use – Unit 42: Passive Voice

 Part A:

Study this example:

This house was built in 1961.

Was built is passive.

Compare active and passive:

Somebody built this house in 1961. (active)

subject object

This house was built in 1961. (passive)

subject

When we use an active verb, we say what the subject does:

My grandfather was a builder. He built this house in 1961.

It’s a big company. It employs two hundred people.

When we use a passive verb, we say what happens to the subject:

How old is this house?’ ‘It was built in 1961.’

Two hundred people are employed by the company.

Part B:

When we use the passive, who or what causes the action is often unknown or unimportant:

A lot of money was stolen in the robbery. (somebody stole it, but we don’t know who)

Is this room cleaned every day? (does somebody clean it? – it’s not important who)

If we want to say who does or what causes the action, we use by:

This house was built by my grandfather.

Two hundred people are employed by the company.

Part C:

The passive is be (is/was etc.) + past participle (done/cleaned/seen etc.):

(be) done (be) cleaned (be) damaged (be) built (be) seen etc.

For irregular past participles (done/seen/known etc.), see Appendix 1.

Study the active and passive forms of the present simple and past simple:

Present simple

active clean(s) I see(s) etc.

pass1ve am/is/are + cleaned/seen et c.

Many accidents are caused by careless driving.

I’m not invited to parties very often.

How is this word pronounced?

Past simple

active cleaned/saw etc.

passive was/were + cleaned/seen et c.

Somebody cleans this room every day.

This room is cleaned every day.

Somebody cleaned this room yesterday.

This room was cleaned yesterday.

We were woken up by a loud noise du ring the night.

‘Did you go to the party?’ ‘No, I wasn’t invited.’

How much money was stolen in the robbery?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

20 + six =