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Passive Voice Examples & Exercises – Present / Past

Passive Voice: Definition

In the active voice, the subject of the sentence DOES the action:

  • John painted the house last week.
    Subject / verb / object

In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence RECEIVES the action.

  • The house was painted last week.
    Subject / verb
Notice that the object of the active sentence (house) became the subject of the passive sentence.

Passive Voice: Use

The passive voice is used when:

  1. We do not know who did the action
    Example: The documents were stolen.
    (we don’t know who stole the documents)
  2. The receiver of the action is more important
    Example: The pyramids were built nearly 5,000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians.
    (we want to emphasize “pyramids” more than “ancient Egyptians”)

Passive Voice: Form

To change an active voice sentence to a passive voice sentence:

  1. Make the object of the active sentence into the subject of the passive sentence.
  2. Use the verb “to be” in the same tense as the main verb of the active sentence.
  3. Use the past participle of the main verb of the active sentence.

Here are some active and passive voice examples to help!

  • Active: People drink champagne on New Year’s Eve.
    Passive: Champagne is drunk on New Year’s Eve.
  • Active: Chefs use these machines to mix the ingredients.
    Passive: These machines are used to mix the ingredients.
  • Active: They renovated the restaurant in 2004.
    Passive: The restaurant was renovated in 2004.
  • Active: The teachers informed the students that the class had been cancelled.
    Passive: The students were informed that the class had been cancelled.

Passive Voice: Present

In the present, the passive voice uses the verbs is and are + past participle of the main verb.

The passive voice present is often used to describe:

  • Processes
    First the apples are picked, then they are cleaned, and finally they’re packed and shipped to the market.
  • General thoughts, opinions, and beliefs
    New York is considered the most diverse city in the U.S.
    It is believed that Amelia Earhart’s plane crashed in Pacific Ocean.
    Hungarian is seen as one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn.
    Skin cancers are thought to be caused by excessive exposure to the sun.

Passive Voice: Past

In the past, the passive voice uses the verbs was and were + past participle of the main verb.

The passive voice past is often used to describe:

  • Events in history
    George Washington was elected president in 1788.
  • Crimes / Accidents
    Two people were killed in a drive-by shooting on Friday night.
    Ten children were injured when part of the school roof collapsed.

…as well as in many other situations when the person who did the action is unknown or unimportant.

Quiz: Passive Voice Exercises - Present and Past

Change each sentence into the passive voice. Good luck!
Start

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