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English Grammar in Use – Unit 44: Passive Voice

Part A:

I was offered … / we were given … etc.

Some verbs can have two objects. For example, give:

Somebody gave the police the information. (=somebody gave the information to the police)

So it is possible to make two passive sentences:

The police were given the information. or

The information was given to the police.

Other verbs which can have two objects are:

Ask, offer, pay, show, teach, tell

When we use these verbs in the passive, most often we begin with the person:

I’ve been offered the job, but I don’t think I’ll accept it. (=they have offered me the job)

You will be given plenty of time to decide. (=we will give you plenty of time)

I didn’t see the original document but I was shown a copy. (=somebody showed me.)

Tim has an easy job – he’s paid a lot of money to do very little. (=they pay him a lot)

Part B:

I don’t like being …

The passive of doing/seeing etc. is being done / being seen etc. Compare:

Active: I don’t like people telling me what to do.

Passive: I don’t like being told what to do.

I remember being taken to the zoo when I was a child. (=I remember somebody taking me to the zoo)

Steve hates being kept waiting. (=he hates people keeping him waiting)

We managed to climb over the wall without being seen. (=without anybody seeing us)

Part C:

I was born …

We say ‘I was born … ‘ (not I am born):

I was born in Chicago.

Where were you born? (not Where are you born?) past


How many babies are born every day? present

Part D:


You can use get instead of be in the passive:

There was a fight at the party, but nobody got hurt. (= nobody was hurt)

I don’t get invited to many parties. (= I’m not invited)

I’m surprised Liz didn’t get offered the job. (= Liz wasn’t offered the job)

We use get only when things happen. For example, you cannot use get in these sentences:

Jessica is liked by everybody. (not gets liked – this is not a ‘happening’)

Peter was a mystery man. Very little was known about him. (not got known)

We use get mainly in informal spoken English. You can use be in all situations.

We also use get in the following expressions (which are not passive in meaning):

get married, get divorced get dressed (= put on your clothes)

get Lost (= not know where you are) get changed (=change your clothes)

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Sasan 2 days, 20 hours ago.

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  • #40593

    Dr. Hariri

    Would you rather be happy yet slow-witted and unimaginative, or unhappy yet bright and creative? For instance, would you rather live the life of a brilliant yet tortured artist, such as Vincent van Gogh, or that of a happy but carefree soul who is a bit simple-minded?

  • #40672


    I prefer to challenge this question at first and bring up my viewpoint next.
    There are different successful people in the world who reached the apex through different procedures. Although some have faced torture to reach their goals, it does not mean we have to necessarily lose something in our life to climb the ladder of success. Anyway, I suppose the most enjoyable part of life is making progress and relying on your abilities to flourish and thrive. So, I personally go for intelligence and innovation rather than happiness along with naivety. Many people have lived an ordinary life so far and repeating this story can never excite me at all. We need to gain new adventurous experiences and foster our abilities so as to break out of comfort zone.

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