The Passive Voice (Part 1)

Hi  guys!!!

How’s 2016 treating you?

Today we are going to take a look at “The Passive Voice” as most students at Intermediate level struggle with them and, without a good base, even upper intermediate and First Certificcate students find it confusing when it comes to sentence transformations.

What is the passive voice?

When we form a sentence we tend to do it in active voice (Subject + verb + direct object), focusing the reader’s attention on the person performing that action. E.g.: “Steve eats an apple”

On the contrary, the passive voice focuses on the receiver of the action (in this case “an apple”). E.g.: “An apple is eaten by Steve”

Notice that both sentences have the same meaning despite having a different structure.

How is the passive formed?

Take a look at how the structure changes:

1.- The subject in active voice is now after the verb, we call it “Agent”

2.- The direct object (an apple) is now at the beginning of the sentence (it has become the subject)

3.- The verb stays in the same place but…. Why are there two words now? ❓

Passive tenses:

In the active voice sentence (“Steve eats an apple”) the verb is in present simple and, believe it or not, so it is in the passive voice one (“An apple is eaten by Steve”).But, why have we got two words now?

Notice how the verb carrying the tense is now the verb “to be” and how the main verb (carrying meaning) is now in Past Participle.

Knowing this, we can now form passives in any tense we want.

E.g.:

PRESENT CONTINUOUS: “Steve is eating an apple” vs “An apple is being eaten by Steve”

PAST SIMPLE: “Steve ate an apple” vs “An apple was eaten by Steve”

PAST CONTINUOUS: “Steve was eating an apple” vs “An apple was being eaten by Steve”

PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE: “Steve has eaten an apple” vs “An apple has been eaten by Steve”

Notice how, independently from the tense, in the passive the main verb is always in past participle.

So, would you like to give it a go? Here it is an exercise for you to practise the passive voice and, to avoid temptation, we will post the correct anwers in the next post! 😉

EXERCISE 1:

Turn these active voice sentences into the passive voice:

1.- Manchester United have won the game

2.- Mark and Kevin had the last piece of cake

3.- Jane is carrying an umbrella

4.- Someone has stolen my book

5.- My neighbours are calling the police

EXERCISE 2:

Complete the second sentence, with a minimum of 2 words and a maximum of 5, so that it has a similar meaning (the closer the better) to the first one  using the word given:

1.-My secretary will send you a message next week.

SENT

_____________________ to you by my secretary next week.

2.- John kicked the ball over the fence

WAS

The ______________________ fence by John

3.- Someone had obviously broken the glass on the floor

CLEARLY

The glass ______________________ on the floor

4.- The class have met many famous people on the school trip

BY

Many celebrities ______________________ the class on the school trip.

5.- The technician is fixing the computer now

REPAIRED

The computer is _______________ now.

Steve eats an apple

An apple is eaten by Steve

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