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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

but

How many babies are born every day? present

Part D:

Get

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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