Before we go on, let’s take a step back and look at what we’re dealing with here. The Active Voice communicates that the subject does the action, while the Passive Voice communicates that the subject receives the action. We form the Passive Voice by using the verb ‘to be’ and a past participle. For example:
~Patrick cuts the pizza. (Active Voice)
~The pizza is cut by Patrick. (Passive Voice)
Looking further at the example above, we see that the main verb in the Active Voice is in the Present Simple, and the tense of the verb ‘to be’ in the Passive Voice is the Present Simple. Recognizing the tense of the main verb in the Active Voice is fundamental because it determines the tense of the verb ‘to be’ in the Passive Voice.
There are four common situations when it’s common to use the Passive Voice. The first is when it’s obvious who does the action in the sentence. For example:
~The criminal was apprehended last night.
In this case, it’s obvious that the police apprehended the criminal. The second situation in which it’s common to use the Passive Voice is when we don’t want to say who does the action. For example:
~You were seen stealing from the cash register.
Here we see that the person informing the thief doesn’t want to say who caught them. Somebody saw them, but we want to keep that person anonymous.
The third situation in which it’s common to use the Passive Voice is when it’s not important who does the action. For example:
~The Sagrada Familia was started in 1882.
In this example, the important information is the date when construction began, not who did it. And the last situation in which we use the Passive Voice is when we don’t know who does the action. For example:
~My bike was stolen.
Obviously in this case we don’t know who stole the bicycle. For extra practice with the Passive Voice, try the exercise we’ve included!
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- The present Continuous
- Remember vs Remind
- Much, Many, Few, Little
- Tail Questions — Part II
- Using ‘Should’ for the Past and Future
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